Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Sweet Antique Rosary - French Ivory made of Early Celluloid

What is French Ivory? Antique beads, hair accessories, dresser sets were all made of French Ivory and are collector items today. This faux ivory, created from celluoid, is a man made early plastic  created to simulate expensive ivory. Discovered in the mid-1800s it was popular during the later half of the 19th century and into first few decades of the 20th century. The beads, the center and the crucifix on this lovely old rosary all have banding that resembles the graining found in real ivory. I believe this rosary is from the 1920s through 1940s based on the style of link- it's sometimes very hard to date a rosary though, it could be earlier. This is the sweetest little rosary- perfect for the rosary collector! Quite unusual and hard to find, it is in excellent vintage/antique condition. See this rosary and many other antique rosaries on The Sacred Bead- the largest collection of fine antique and vintage rosaries for sale on the internet.

Note the beautiful sterling and enamel French medal of Lourdes on this adorable rosary. The crucifix is hand carved- my camera couldn't get the detail. 

This rosary is now on special on Antiques page 5 at The Sacred Bead.

Monday, June 27, 2011

More Strange Doings on eBay

I recently got an email from a lady thanking me for my posts on the added skulls and drop of blood beads on eBay. I love to head over to eBay and check out what is going on there, but I see more and more that disturbs me lately. Recently I've seen a good number of rosaries described as "vintage" or "antique" that are completely altered by the seller- completely! Although the seller states that some items on the rosary may have been added after the rosary was made, what I am seeing are completely reworked, altered rosaries. This would be fine if they were being sold as "altered" but they are not. They are listed as vintage rosaries or antique rosaries. 

I know it is tempting for sellers to try to find a "trick" to make their rosaries sell well, but it is a dishonest practice to represent any completely reworked item as truly vintage or antique. I also am seeing that the sellers doing these additions and alterations tend to wrap themselves in a cloak of religion. I find this quite disturbing, adding to their deceptive practices.

The result is to prey upon inexperienced buyers who are not familiar enough with true antique rosaries to know the difference. This is deception, and the buyers are unaware they are purchasing something that is not an antique rosary. They may be even more persuaded to buy due to the seeming religious atmosphere built by the sellers in their auctions.

How can a collector protect themselves? The lady who wrote to me said she would never buy on eBay again after she finally got the seller to confess that she had added and changed the rosary. There are hundreds of sincere sellers on eBay, maybe thousands, so it's only a few who are ruining the experience for rosary collectors.

When you purchase an antique rosary, there is usually the intention of passing the rosary down through the family. This is even more upsetting to me, as these beloved descendants will have something that is not really an authentic antique rosary, rather a 21st century rosary that might have vintage beads or some other parts.

Protect yourself by learning everything you can about authentic antique rosaries. Know the styles, know what is common and what is so odd that it just can't be authentic. Watch a wide variety of auctions, watch prices. The biggest clue is if one seller has rosary after rosary that has a feature that no other rosary you've ever seen has, then something just isn't right. I'm seeing modern brass/bronze filigree findings adhered to vintage crucifixes, strange dangly things, centers that are definitely not antique, numerous drop of blood beads and the ever-popular Chinese skull beads from Buddhist malas added to rosaries. 

All of this is just fine if the seller is honest and calls these rosaries altered or modern reworks. Some are quite interesting and beautiful, but they are not authentic antique rosaries. Once the center and crucifix have been replaced, new medals attached, Chinese bone skull beads attached and whatever else- the rosary is no longer considered an antique rosary.

Hopefully, I have armed you with some knowledge and you will be able to spot these deceptive practices. If in doubt, write to the seller, asking if the ornaments on the rosary, crucifix and center are original to it. If they aren't, then you have the knowledge you need to make a decision about bidding on the rosary.

I'd love to add pictures, but I'm not going to. I don't want to single out any particular sellers. I would just like to see buyers who are fully aware of what they are buying so I don't have more people writing about their disappointing eBay experiences.

Just a reminder- nothing is ever altered at The Sacred Bead. Antique rosaries are just the way I found them- I don't even clean them, as some collectors want them in their complete antique state! Nothing is ever added or altered unless a small repair is required- and if it is, I will always state that. I try to thoroughly research every rosary and give the most accurate information possible. If I don't know something for sure, I will always say! Feel free to email me at The Sacred Bead if you'd like me to preview a rosary for you or have any questions. I've been doing a lot of previewing lately and I'm always happy to provide that service!