Uncanny Artist Ephemera and Objects for Artists and Collectors
  • Vintage Berber Necklace with Bakelite Beads and Fibula

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    This is Vintage Berber Necklace with Bakelite Beads and Fibula, measuring 22" when worn.  There are four amber-colored Bakelite beads, which vary in color (from a buttery yellow to a deep chestnut brown), in opacity (from crystallized translucent to variegated opaque), in size (from 1.25" to 1.5" in diameter in width and from 1" to 1.375" in height), and in surface variations such as fractures or crazing. These beads, which did test positive as Bakelite, were probably produced during the 1930's in Germany and sold to the African trade.  There are also six whole and eight half nickel silver beads (measuring about 0.75" in diameter) with double braided rings and simple applied metal circles.  These appear to have some age to them as they have turned black over time.  The highlight of this necklace is the pendant, which appears to have originally been a Berber fibula.  A fibula is a cloak fastener in either a round, oval or triangular shape with a curved pin which fastens two pieces of material together.  Not only decorative, the fibula can represent female form, fertility, and/or purity (when worn by a bride). Each region or tribe in Morocco has its own distinctive style of fibula.  The fibula here appears to be made of nickel silver with six half circles (same as the design of the beads) and double arches with curled ends.  The center piece (1.875" in diameter) is a dome with a flattened top made of deep reddish brown Bakelite, accented with nickel silver spiralled petal designs and finished with the 2.5" dulled pin.  The metal back has been cut by hand.  The fibula is missing its circular pin.  The 24" silver toned chain with a hooked design appears to be a more recent addition.  It is possible that these older Berber jewelry elements were assembled later than the time of their creations.  This Vintage Berber Necklace with Bakelite Beads and Fibula is an unusual ethnic piece of jewelry.