A Roman Millefiori Glass Bead, Roman Imperial Period, ca. 1st century CE
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Due to the damage at either end, this is an excellent bead to study the superb craftsmanship necessary to produce these early beads. In this example, the white flowers are set in a brown matrix whereas the flowers in green are outlined in yellow, and set in a blue matrix. If examined under a loupe, a tiny piece of the red cap still remains at one end.
Background: Translated to "A thousand flowers" in Italian, millefiori refers to the most common floral design patterns. Millefiori beads (a mosaic glass), were made in ancient times and had numerous sections of patterned canes placed in close proximity parallel to one another and heated to fuse together. The pad of millefiori glass was then rolled upon itself and shaped to form a bead. When Italians reinvented millefiori glass, they usually applied cane pieces to a separate base, often the bead's core, and fused the parts together; this is one way ancient beads may be distinguished.
Dimensions: Length: 3/4 inch (2 cm)
Condition: Heavy losses to both ends but the body intact and in good condition overall.
Provenance: Greenwich, Connecticut private collection, acquired from Black Rock Galleries, reference number # 130236 (part).