Sunday, November 6, 2011

Exquisite Bavarian Six Decade Filigree Rosary

Antique Bavarian rosaries are some of the most incredible rosaries ever produced and are highly collectible. They are unique to this region of Germany, and what truly sets them apart is the gorgeous filigree silverwork. (I have seen silver filigree work called spun silver by some antique and vintage jewelry dealers.)
These are generally strung rosaries, although some of them are linked. They have been produced for hundreds of years and are still produced in much the same manner today. Note the distinctive crucifix of filigree with an inlaid enameled cross set into the silver. Bavarian rosaries from the 1700s and early 1800s sometimes have a simple inset cross made of wood and mother of pearl. This rosary most likely dates from the late 1800s. Above the large cross, you'll almost always find a Credo cross, smaller and simpler in design. Although many of the rosaries are five decades, most are six. Over the years, these rosaries are strung and resturng- so the age cannot be determined by the stinging material. Beads also get replaced as the rosaries break and beads are lost- it is quite common to find slightly mismatched beads making up part of the rosary. The tiny spacer beads between each Ave bead are also commonly replaced after a rosary breaks and many of the tiny beads are lost. The German word for rosary is rosenkranz, and it does not refer simply to Bavarian rosaries, rather all rosaries. Using the word does not mean the rosary is old or new, simply German. Just as chapelet is the French word for rosary, whether antique or modern.
This beautiful rosary can be found on Antiques page 12 on The Sacred Bead. Antique Bavarian rosaries are increasingly difficult to find and are true, high-end collector rosaries. (This beautiful rosary is now in a private collection.)

 Main filigree cross with inset enameled cross, note the smaller Credo cross above and the little dangle at the bottom of the main cross.
 Six decades with filigree Pater beads.
 Exceptional filigree work!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Special Pre-Holidays Sale for My Blog Readers!

In appreciation for all of my blog readers, I am running a Pre-Holiday Sale of 15% off any item at The Sacred Bead! To get your 15% off just follow these instructions.
  • Visit The Sacred Bead.
  • Email me while there- mention the blog special.
  • State the Page Number and Title of the item you want.
  • If you live in the US, I ship all items over $50 by insured, first class for free.
  • International Customers- please tell me your location- I ship only by registered mail outside the US and must charge for this service.
  • I'll email you in return and send you an invoice from Paypal with the discounted price.
  • I'm happy to take US Postal Service money orders rather than Paypal- just let me know.
Remember, all items on The Sacred Bead are one of a kind- if you see something that will make a perfect gift for a loved one or even yourself, don't wait, I may never have another like it!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Two Mystery Rosaries

I have two rosaries, one on The Sacred Bead and another that a reader sent me pictures of that I could use a little assistance with! 
The first rosary is an absolutely beautiful art glass rosary from Italy. It is the beads that have me intrigued. Although I am a decades long bead collector and have a pretty vast knowledge of antique beads, I have never seen this particular bead before. It reminds me of saphiret beads in the way that the colors come from inside the beads. There is no coating on the outside, as in Aurora Borealis beads, rather the glow or flashes of color come from the inside. Saphiret beads were made with actual gold in the glass, so I am guessing a process similar to that produced these beads. When held to the light the Ave beads have a golden or yellow glow, while the Pater beads have a pinkish flash of color. From the style of the center, I am estimating that this rosary is from the middle of the 20th century. The rosary is for sale on The Sacred Bead on Antiques Page 7. If anyone knows the name of these beads, where they were made, or how they were made, I'd love to know!

 Note how each Ave bead is wirewapped and the larger round Pater beads have caps. Lovely, lovely rosary!

The second rosary is very similar to a WWI soldier rosary with pull chain style beads. There are three major differences though. The standard WWI rosaries are between 16 and 17 inches when laid flat, this rosary is 18 inches long. It has a different center- all the WWI rosaries have the same center with Mary on one side and Jesus carrying the cross on the reverse. The most significant difference is the shape of the beads. Rather than being round, the Ave beads are oval!  If anyone has any knowledge about rosaries like this I would certainly appreciate hearing from you- just go to The Sacred Bead and email me please. Thanks so much in advance for any help you can give!
 The rosary on the left is a WWI rosary, note the oval shaped beads on the mystery rosary on the right.
 On the left is the center always found on the WWI rosaries. Note how the construction of the connectors is identical in both rosaries.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Plenty of Moderately Priced Antique Rosaries on The Sacred Bead

As the Holiday Season approaches, many people are starting their search for just the right Christmas gifts. Antique and vintage rosaries make a fantastic gift for those who appreciate the exquisite craftsmanship and the beauty of rosaries that have been lovingly prayed on for decades. 
With the economy as it is, I have been concentrating on bringing many more moderately priced rosaries to The Sacred Bead. You'll still find some incredible and rare rosaries, but also plenty to fit any budget! Here is just a sampling of the most recent additions to The Sacred Bead. Don't forget that buying an antique or vintage rosary is an ecologically sound choice. These rosaries already exist- you are saving energy and resources every time you purchase and antique or vintage item rather than a new one.

 Lovely Faceted Crystal and Deep Blue Enamel Antique French Rosary. Antiques page 4
 Fabulous Amethyst Crystal (glass that resembles amethyst) with Extra Medals Antiques page 20
 Rare Handmade French Nun's Rosary from Quebec Antiques page 15
 Incredible Italian Art Glass Rosary Antiques page 7
 Lovely Antique French Rosary with Deep Garnet Glass Beads   Antiques page 25
 Art Deco Mother of Pearl Rosary with White Enamel Accents  Antiques page 33
 Antique French Rosary with Art Glass Beads and Extra Medals  Antiques p 20
 Beautiful Victorian Metal Rosary w Highly Detailed Crucifix Antiques page 21
Antique Rosary with Crystal Beads and Fancy Spacers   Antiques page 10

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Tradition of El Dia de Los Muertos

This whimsical image of a skeleton playing a guitar is one of many similar portrayals of skeletons enjoying life that are used during celebrations of the holiday , El Dia de los Muertos. Originating in Mexico but now found throughout the Americas, this holiday represents a blending of early Mexican celebrations and the new religion brought from Spain in the 16th century. All Saints and All Souls days fall roughly at the same time of year that the traditional Mexican festivities for the dead occurred, which explains why the holiday coincides with All Saints and All Souls days. As old customs were incorporated into the new religion brought by the Spaniards, El Dia de los Muertos became a time to both reflect on the meaning of life and to enjoy the presence of the ancestors. Rather than being a frightening symbol, the skeletons of this holiday are joyously represented. 
Skulls on rosaries are an ancient tradition in Europe and are becoming increasingly well known and used in modern times. Many people appreciate the symbolism of both El Dia de los Muertos and rosaries with skulls. The skull on a rosary is a contemplative tool, reminding those in prayer of man's brief earthly life and Jesus' victory over death.
You can find the following rosaries on The Sacred Bead and The SacredBead2 on Etsy.
 Antique inlaid crucifix, natural rust sponge coral and small carved bone skulls complete this interesting handmade rosary.
 Large antique skull and crossbones crucifix, bone and resin amber beads and tiny carved bone skull beads makeup this intriguing rosary.
 The center and crucifix are hand made bronze pieces, cast from antiques.
 Unique skulls made of large seeds with gorgeous natural rust sponge coral beads highlight this lovely rosary.

Friday, September 16, 2011

An Antique Art Glass Rosary with Beads That Resemble Bloodstone

This is a lovely antique French rosary with magnificent art glass beads that very closely resemble the semi-precious gemstone, bloodstone or blood jasper. The beads and the stone are a deep mossy green with specks of red. Since the Middle Ages and possibly before, the stone was believed to contain drops of Jesus' blood. It is one of the ancient stones that people have long believed has healing and protective qualities. The beads on this rosary are so realistic looking, without having another antique rosary with actual bloodstone beads to compare it to, I might have been fooled!
European bead makers of the 18th and 19th centuries were masters of glass beads resembling gemstones. Garnet, lapis, agate, amethyst and coral beads were rare and expensive, so the glass bead artists developed very realistic beads at a greatly reduced price. Real jet was very rare, making French jet, the black glass that looks like jet, extremely popular for both rosaries and jewelry.
The simplest test to tell if something is a gemstone or glass (this works with quartz type stones- rock crystal (pure quartz), agate, amethyst, citrine, chalcedony etc. but not with jet, coral or other organic gemstones) is to compare the temperature of the stone beads with similar glass beads. The stone beads will always feel cooler to the touch. Other clues are a uniformity of pattern found in glass beads but usually absent in the stone beads. That was another hint that this rosary was actually made with glass beads. Quartz based stone is harder than glass and usually shows less wear than similar glass beads.
This beautiful antique French rosary can be found on the Antiques Page 32 of The Sacred Bead.
 The beads are a deep green art glass with red inclusions, made to resemble bloodstone or blood jasper, a stone said to have drops of Jesus' blood within.
 Note the stylized M center and very typical antique French crucifix.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Irish Horn Rosaries

On a journey to the sacred sites of Ireland, visitors would buy an Irish Horn rosary as a souvenir of their travels through Ireland. Unique to Ireland, these rosaries were produced from the 1800s to the mid 20th century at which time their production was stopped. At sometime in the past, I know I read about a ban on using horn but I can't find the reference anymore. I believe the last rosaries were made in the 1970s. 
The beads, center and cross may all be made from horn. Other rosaries have metal centers or celluloid centers and crosses. But, all Irish horn rosaries had horn beads. Some were natural brown or tan in color, while others were dyed red or green. Some have a metal corpus on the cross- I have seen aluminum and also silver. The beige color corpus, most common to these rosaries, is usually made of celluloid.
Right now, I have one Irish Horn Rosary on The Sacred Bead. You can find it on Antique Rosaries page 11. They go quickly, as they have become quite a collector item. Said to have been all handmade, these are usually sturdy rosaries with plenty of use left in them. They are a wonderful gift for someone of Irish heritage!
 Natural horn beads and cross with a celluloid corpus. Note the interesting lyre shaped center. This rosary is in a private collection.
Irish Horn Rosary with dyed beads and aluminum center and corpus.
Below is a nice variety of vintage/antique Irish Horn rosaries showing various colors of beads, types of centers and crucifixes.

Monday, September 5, 2011

An Incredible Civelli Rosary Worn Amost Beyond Recognition

This is a wonderful example of a 1950s Civelli rosary that has been so worn from repeated prayer that almost all detail has worn away. These rosaries are beautiful at whatever stage they are found in. Whether pristine and never used or prayed upon for over a half a century, they are one of the most unique rosaries produced in the 20th century. They were a special commemorative rosary for the Holy Year in 1950 and designed by the Italian sculptor Civelli. Several versions were produced, one with the Holy Year center and another with a Queen of Peace center with a soil from the Roman Catacombs in the reverse of the center. This one has had medals attached from sacred sites. The Civelli rosaries are made from "ivorine," a celluloid type plastic made to resemble ivory. Celluloid was quite popular as a faux ivory material, as real ivory has always been rare and expensive. I find this rosary quite fascinating- the extreme wear has really made it look more like real ivory.
Although this rosary is in my private collection as a rare example, you can find many wonderful antique rosaries on The Sacred Bead. I will be adding more as the holiday season approaches.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Fabulous and Rare Six Decade Antique German Rosary with Skull and Crossbones Crucifix

This is such an unusual rosary for quite a few reasons. First, it is a strung rosary from Bavaria in Germany. For centuries, all rosaries were strung- the linked wire rosary is actually a rather modern invention from the 1700s or slightly before. Looking at most early European paintings, you'll see people holding or wearing large strung rosaries. This tradition remained until very recently in Bavaria- although some rosaries are linked, the majority are strung. Note also that the rosary has six decades rather than five, also common among Bavarian rosaries.
The Ave beads are gorgeous faceted givre glass with a pale peachy tan color and clear glass. These may be German or Austrian. The faceting gives them a lovely sparkling appearance.
Of note is the 4" inlaid crucifix with skull and crossbones. Although my pictures don't show the detail of the feet, this crucifix is one that shows four nails rather than three- the feet are separate rather than overlapping with a single nail. There is a common, yet highly inaccurate, rumor on the internet that the four nails mean the crucifix is dated prior to 1830. This is a prime example of why that is not an accurate statement. This crucifix is definitely a 20th century crucifix and has four nails. I would date this rosary to the middle decades of the 20th century.
This is a true collector rosary, rare and unique. It could also serve as a rosary for use as it appears to be well strung on nylon. You cannot use the stringing material to date Bavarian rosaries, as they were commonly restrung numerous times.
See this rosary and many other incredible antique and vintage rosaries for sale on The Sacred Bead. This rosary is now on special on Antiques Page 3!
 Fabulous Bavarian Rosary- Rosenkranz- with six decades of givre beads and a four inch Skull and Crossbones Crucifix.
 Reverse of the crucifix

Beautiful faceted givre beads- each one is cut, not molded.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Skull Rosaries

Although most of The Sacred Bead's customers come to enjoy the antique rosary beads, I have been getting requests for more skull rosaries- the two I had sold long ago and haven't been replaced yet. I am currently working on making some gorgeous ones and will have them on the website by the end of August.
I see many questions online about what and why skulls are placed on rosaries, as people have forgotten the long tradition in Europe of placing a skull on a rosary. Known as a momento mori, the skull is there as a contemplative tool for remembering our mortality and as a reminder of Christ's triumph over death. Antique rosaries used by priests and nuns in Europe frequently had skulls on them for this reason. Most of these beautiful antique rosaries are quite rare and thus very expensive. As an more affordable alternative, modern rosaries made with skull beads make an excellent alternative. I do know that these have become quite popular and are frequently worn; it is not up to me to dictate what you do with a rosary you purchase from The Sacred Bead. Of course, I would love to see them exclusively used in prayer, but I am aware that that may not always be the case. 
As with all my designer rosaries, only the finest materials are used. Several skull rosaries will feature antique and vintage crucifixes. They may have coral, turquoise, or bone beads. The skulls are made from ox bone, palm nuts, magnesite and glass. Each one is unique, so once it is sold, there will never be another made just like it. When making rosaries, I avoid a lot of "fancy," instead I like to highlight the elegance and simplicity of beautiful natural materials.

 Antique and Vintage Crucifixes on Several of the Skull Rosaries.
 Skull beads are ox bone, magnesite and other materials. The ave beads are sea coral, ox bone, turquoise and other fine materials.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Summer Sale on Antique and Vintage Rosaries

Just letting everyone know that The Sacred Bead is having a store-wide 20% off sale. If you have been wanting an antique or vintage rosary- now is the time to make your purchase! Rosaries make extraordinary gifts- not only are these incredible antiques, many of them are appropriate for daily use. I will always let you know in the description if I think and antique rosary is too fragile for frequent use.
You'll find rosaries in all price ranges and ages- I specialize in antique French rosaries but offer a wide range of beautiful items. Don't forget to browse through the vastly expanded Antique and Vintage Crucifix section!
 Fabulous antique rosary of natural Mediterranean coral, mother of pearl and sterling- this is the reverse of the highly detailed crucifix.
 Elegant vintage rosary with black beads and sterling.
 A magnificent vintage 15 decade rosary covered with medals- a wonderful French rosary!
 Beautiful antique crucifix with skull and crossbones.

Come and enjoy the site- it is the most extensive collection of antique rosaries on the internet! And, as always, I welcome your questions about rosaries you have and may not be sure of their age, materials or origins. Just send me a picture and I will be more than happy to help you identify your rosary!