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.