Timeline of a few of the materials used in rosaries

1800

1820

1830

1840

1850

1860

1870

1900

1910

1930

1950

 Opaline Glass  Alpacca  Pressed Glass  Vulcanite  Saphiret Glass  Prosser Glass  Celluloid  Casein  Stainless Steel  Lucite  AB Finish
     Aluminum  Gutta Percha  Steel      Bakelite      
         Bois Durci            
                     

Notes:

  • The use of brass or bronze in a rosary usually means that the item is at least vintage, and probably antique.

  • Seeds: In the 19th and early 20th century seeds of the Spina Cristi tree were popular as rosary beads. These are almost never seen in modern rosaries. Job’s Tears seeds are most often found in antique rosaries, but they occasionally seen in modern rosaries as well, and were especially popular in the 1960s.

  • Irish Horn rosaries are usually from the 1930s through the 1950s, although crafting small objects out of horn was a national tradition in Ireland from at least the early 1800s. One manufacturer, the Mitchell Rosary Factory of Dublin, appears to have been the source for all the Irish Horn rosaries produced in the 20th century, and possibly even earlier. Mitchell’s stopped making horn rosaries by the 1960s.

  • Bone was a common bead material prior to the 20th century. Still available but not commonly used; beads made from bone usually indicate an antique rosary.

  • Rose Petal Beads are a 20th century invention. Despite the appealing notion that rose petal beads are medieval and rosaries were originally made from them, there is no evidence of this. Rose petal beads don't appear in literature or in existing rosaries prior to about 1920.