The Great Henrietta Marie
After many years, the MFMHS archaeology department finally found the resolve to count and categorize every last one of the thousands of
Henrietta Marie glass beads. Though we have always had a fairly good impression of what made up the collection, the time had come to absolutely define the group. As the final touches are completed on an upcoming
Henrietta Marie book, hard numbers became essential for any accurate, scientific interpretation of the collection.
All the beads from the various exhibitions and the storage areas were gathered and categorized. Most of the beads are round "seed" beads of between 1mm to 6mm. Screens with openings of 2mm, 3mm, 4mm and 6mm were constructed, and after the beads were divided by color, they were sifted through these. After being divided into the various size categories, they were counted and weighed.
After 10 tedious days, it can be said there are currently 10,659 individual beads, all weighing 283.56 grams, in the collection. Of the 1758 pounds of beads put on the ship shortly before she left London in September of 1699, we have now have data on a mere 10 ounces (though it must be said that many more are still buried at the site awaiting future work). Three types of bead, in eight colors and seven sizes were discerned from this sample. Three-quarters of the examined beads are opaque green, and most of those are between 2 and 3 millimeters in diameter. It has been calculated that it took between 35 - 52 pounds of beads in trade for a man (See April, 1998 Navigator). Assuming the ratios of bead types stayed more or less the same, this would have meant between 597,00 to 921,00 beads traded per man! Tax records show the beads loaded in England were recorded as "Great Bugles," a term that today means a cylindrical, or tubular style. Interestingly, only one of this shape is found in the collection. The significance of this is unclear.
Archaeologists David Moore and Cheryl LaRoche will be utilizing this data in an analysis of the beads and their history in the trade. As with so many of the artifacts from the
Henrietta Marie, this collection is important because it the only one of its kind. It is the only one can begin to tell in concrete terms the way in which the slave trade was constructed.
Henrietta Marie Glass Beads
10,659 beads, all weighing 283.56g, were examined
|Type ||Color ||Size ||Weight / % ||Number / %|
|Seed||Opaque Green||Less than 2mm||9.96g / 3.5||954 / 8.9|
|Seed||Opaque Green||2mm - 3mm||140.05g / 49.4||6320 / 59.3|
|Seed||Opaque Green||3mm - 4mm||27.0g / 9.5||416 / 3.9|
|Seed||Opaque Green||4mm - 6mm||39.39g / 13.9||293 / 2.7|
|Seed||Clear Blue||2mm - 3mm||3.44g / 1.2||369 / 3.5|
|Seed||Clear Blue||3mm - 4mm||19.58g / 6.9||916 / 8.6|
|Seed||Clear Blue||4mm - 6mm||1.27g / 0.4||27 / 0.25|
|Seed||Opaque Blue||2mm - 3mm||0.62g / 0.2||42 / 0.4|
|Seed||Opaque Blue||3mm - 4mm||0.94g / 0.3||34 / 0.3|
|Seed||Opaque Yellow||Less than 2mm||1.69g / 0.6||258 / 2.4|
|Seed||Opaque Yellow||2mm - 3mm||23.23g / 8.1||967 / 9.1|
|Seed||Op. "Egg" Yellow||4mm - 6mm||3.72 / 1.3||26 / 0.24|
|Seed||Clear||3mm - 4mm||4 / 0.04|
|Seed||N/A||Various||0.41g / 0.015||6 / 0.06|
|Sm. Gooseberry||Clr./White Canes|| ||7.63g */ 2.7||31* / 0.29|
|Lg. Gooseberry||Clr./White Canes|| ||4.46g / 1.6||7 / 0.07|
|Bugle||N/A||12mm long||0.08g / 0.03||1 / 0.01|
|*There are 19 whole Sm. Gooseberries, and 12 non-matching halves. The listed weight reflects only the 19 intact examples.|
archaeology for more information.
For more information email Corey Malcom at