Materials

Notes:

1800 1890 Opaline Glass

A decorative style of glass made in France from 1800 through the early 1900s, though it reached its peak of popularity in the 1850s and 1860s. Inferior opalescent glass and plactic is still made today.

1850 1915 Saphiret Glass

Made in Gblonz (Czechoslovakia) in the mid 1800s through around 1910. Made by mixing melted gold into sapphire-colored glass, resulting in a brick red to brown glass that reflects a blue surface. Often found in brass or gold-filled settings, as this was ‘only’ glass.

1830 1920 Aluminum

Aluminum was introduced in 1827. Very popular with religious artists from the1890s though the 1920s, because of the way fine detail could be cast. Many antique rosaries and medals are aluminum. 

1843   Gutta Percha

A hard rubber-based material that looks like wood, introduced in 1843.

1860 1955 Prosser

The "Prosser" technique of pressing glass was invented in 1840. The process consists of molding a cold glass and ceramic paste under great pressure and then firing it. The finished product looks like porcelain and is often referred to as such. This method allows for only opaque colors, not translucent ones. In 1844 Jean-Félix Bapterosses patented a machine that could make 500 buttons at once. He also ameliorated the plasticity of the paste incorporating milk into it. Bapterosses started producing beads in 1860 - 1864. All Prosser beads include a thin seam.

1843 1900 Vulcanite

Vulcanite is a combination of vulcanized rubber and sulfur, a material invented in 1843 by Thomas Hancock and used extensively in jewelry, combs, and buttons. It was particularly fashionable for mourning jewelry in the late Victorian era (1860-1900) after being popularized by Queen Victoria.

1850   Steel

Before the mid-19th century, carbon steel was expensive and was only used where no cheaper alternative existed. With the advent of speedier and thriftier production methods, steel began replacing brass and copper for chains and links.

1862 1940 Celluloid

Celluloid was introduced in 1862 as Parkesine, an artificial ivory. Popular into the first half of the 20th century.

1909   Bakelite

A heavy and dense plastic material. The first synthetic plastic.

1912   Stainless Steel

Stainless steel differs from carbon steel by the amount of chromium present. Carbon steel rusts when exposed to air and moisture; Stainless steels contain sufficient chromium to form a passive film of chromium oxide, which prevents further corrosion.

1920   Rose Petal Beads are a 20th century invention. Despite the romantic notion that rose petal beads are medieval and rosaries were originally made from them, there is absolutely no evidence of rose petal beads prior to about 1920.
1800 1960 Bone & Horn

Irish Horn rosaries are usually from the 1940s & 1950s, but horn rosaries were being made in Ireland well before that, and were an established national tradition by 1932 (1932 Rosaries Eucharistic Congress).

1933   Lucite, Acrylic

A common bead material from the 1930s onward. Early Lucite was not considered a cheap material.

     

 

Center Medals

Notes:

 

Crosses/Crucifix

Notes:

1830 1900+ Composite crucifixes: In the Victorian era (1837-1901), composite crucifixes were common. These crucifixes might be a combination of a wood cross wrapped with aluminum or brass, and a metal corpus. Metal crosses with a thin layer of wood or mother of pearl inlay were also popular and featured a metal corpus. Celluloid was another popular layering material that sometimes took on the appearance of ivory, tortoise shell, or mother of pearl.
1830 1910 Stamped metal crucifixes were also common during the Victorian era, including those which featured a crucified Christ on one side and Mary or a crucified St. Wildefortes on the reverse.
1864 1920 Stanhope peepholes: Tiny peepholes seem to have followed the invention of the photograph in the mid 1800's. They were especially popular from 1870 - 1920s.
1940 1970 I am a Catholic... In the mid 20th century many rosary crucifixes had the message, "I am a Catholic. In case of emergency please call a Priest." or "I am a Catholic. Please call a Priest." inscribed on the back. Military rosaries tend to have the second expression whereas non-military rosaries tend to have the first. Though you can still find some crucifixes with this language today, it was mostly discontinued by the 1970s.
1955   Narrow metal In the late 1950s and 1960s, a narrow plated metal crucifix was introduced to compliment the more modern depiction of the youthful Mary on the center medal.

 

Saints, Apparitions, Decrees

Notes:

Mysteries ~ There were 3 mysteries until John Paul II added luminous mysteries in 2002. A rosary with mystery spacers with 3 sides is pre-2002, with 4 sides, post 2002.

1830 Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal

The vision of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal is said to have appeared to Saint Catherine Labouré in 1830 in the convent of Rue du Bac, Paris.

1846 Our Lady of La Salette

The apparitions of Our Lady of La Salette were reported in La Salette in France in 1846 by two shepherd children, Mélanie Calvat and Maximin Giraud

1858 Lourdes

Marian apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes are reported to have occurred in 1858 to Bernadette Soubirous.

1871 Our Lady of Pontmain

The apparitions at Our Lady of Pontmain, France also called Our Lady of Hope were reported in 1871 by a number of young children. The final approval for the apparitions of Our Lady of Hope was given in 1932 by Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli, who later became Pope Pius XII.[citation needed]

1879 Knock

On the evening of 21 August 1879, people whose ages ranged from five years to seventy-five and included men, women, teenagers, children, witnessed what they claimed was an apparition of Our Lady, St Joseph, and St John the Evangelist. Behind them and a little to the left of St John was a plain altar. On the altar was a cross and a lamb, with adoring angels.

1888 Notre-Dame-du-Cap

The old church was retained and dedicated on June 22nd. 1888 as Notre-Dame-du-Cap. Since that time the first Marian Shrine in Canada - Our Lady of The Cape - has seen millions of pilgrims visiting here, including Pope John Paul 11. In 1924 a commemoration bridge was built in the gardens with the links from one side to the other as replicas of huge Rosary beads.

1897

 

Saint Therese

Therese of Lisieux, 'The Little Flower', was born in France in 1873. Her one dream as the work she would do after her death, helping those on earth. "I will return," she said. "My heaven will be spent on earth." She died on September 30, 1897. She was beatified in 1923, canonised in 1925, declared co-patron of the missions with Francis Xavier in 1927, and named co-patroness of France with St. Joan of Arc in 1944.

1910 Scapular Medal

Pius X introduced the Scapular Medal Holy Office December 16, 1910.

1917 Fatima

Our Lady of Fatima is a title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary with respect to reported apparitions of her to three shepherd children at Fatima in Portugal on the 13th day of six consecutive months in 1917, starting on May 13.

October 13, 1917, The Miracle of the Sun: Medals and rosary centers showing Mary holding the Christ child and offering a scapular and a rosary commemorate the 6th Fatima vision. "...and I saw Our Lady once more, this time resembling Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, holding the child Jesus in one hand and the brown scapular in the other hand. "

1945 (1531) Guadalupe, Empress of the Americas

In 1531, Saint Juan Diego reported an early morning vision of the Virgin Mary on the Hill of Tepeyac in Mexico. In 1945 Pope Pius XII declared the Virgin of Guadalupe "Queen of Mexico and Empress of the Americas", and "Patroness of the Americas" in 1946. Pope John XXIII invoked her as "Mother of the Americas" in 1961. In 2002 Pope John Paul II declared Juan Diego a saint.

1954 Marian Year

Pope Pius XII ordered a Marian year for 1954, the first in Church history.

1981 Medjugorje

Apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary have been seen at Medjugorje since 24 June 1981.

   
   

 

Country of Origin

Notes:

1916 1922  Irish Republic
1918 1993 Czechoslovakia

Czechoslovakia existed from October 1918 until 1993. Prior to 1918 the bead making region of Czechoslovakia was called Bohemia and was part of the Austrian empire. Bead making in Czechoslovakia was nationalized in 1948, and went into hiatus until about 1958. After Czechoslovakia was dissolved in 1993 Bohemia became part of the Czech Republic.

1922 1937 Irish Free State, Eireann
1937 1949 Eire or Ireland, although “Ireland” may appear on Irish rosaries of any date.
1949 present Republic of Ireland or Eire

 

Misc. Regulations 

1905   National Gold and Silver Stamping Act

In 1905 the US passed a law that all precious metals entering and/or sold in the US must be marked with their precious metal content, i.e.  "sterling", "925", "800" etc. Older items may or may not be be marked, and the designations were not standardized.

1963   Zip Codes

5-digit zip codes were introduced in the U.S. in 1963. 9-digit codes were introduced in 1983. Rosaries won't have zip codes (of course), but look at the address on any accompanying pamphlet or packaging.

 

Design Eras

1790 1831 GEORGIAN

(1790-1831) The period prior to the Victorian Era that includes the early part of the nineteenth century. Plants and animal themes were popular. This style enjoyed a revival around the beginning of the twentieth century.

A period in history running from 1714 to 1830, named after the English kings George I-IV who were on the throne at the time. Georgian jewelry moved away from the heavy enamels of the seventeenth century, appearing lighter and more airy. They are characterized by exquisite goldwork and Old Mine cut, rose cut and table cut stones, which were usually collect set and foil-backed. Common motifs are stars, ribbons, scrolls and flowers. Popular trends were memorial jewelry, cameos and intaglios, neoclassical motifs, Berlin iron and painted miniatures. Many Georgian pieces were later re-set to reflect more contemporary design and are highly collectible.

1837

1901

Victorian

The term "Victorian" properly refers to the period of time during the reign of Queen Victoria of England. However, it is often used to generically describe the 1900's and the early part of the twentieth century. Victorian designs are typically highly ornamental. Floral and other natural designs were extremely prevalent.

The Victorian period is named after the reign of Queen Victoria, who was on the English throne from 1837 until 1901. Within this period there are three distinct phases: early, mid- and late Victorian. As Victoria came to the throne and began her courtship and marriage to Prince Albert, the early Victorian period focused more and more on sentiment and tokens of love. Jewelry was soft and delicate, with a focus on floral and sentimental motifs. Then with the death of Prince Albert in 1861, the whole country was thrown into mourning, with memorial jewelry coming to center stage. Jewelry became strong and bold, reaching massive proportions in the 1860s and 70s. Finally, towards the end of the century, jewelry began to lighten up again, focusing on diamonds and feminine shapes. Popular Victorian motifs are flowers, nature and especially serpents, which are a symbol of eternity.

1880

 

1910

 

ART NOUVEAU

An art movement defined largely by the work of Alphonse Mucha, the Art Nouveau style found its way into the design of many household items. This style made profound use of stylized natural forms. Elegantly curving vines and floral motifs were common. Women with long, flowing hair and dresses were often to be found in Art Nouveau style pieces. Classical themes were quite popular as they were throughout much of the Nineteenth Century.

A decorative style that began in the 1890s and lasted until the early 1900s, taking its name from the Parisian gallery of Samuel Bing, Maison de l’Art Nouveau. It took on many guises throughout Europe: Jugenstil in Germany, Stile Liberty in Italy (after Liberty of London), the Glasgow School and the Vienna Secession. Art Nouveau artists reacted against what they saw as the slavish mass-produced copying of historic styles, choosing instead to focus on flowing lines, asymmetry, and superior craftsmanship. They took inspiration from the natural world and the arts of Japan, often utilizing insect, floral and female motifs. Instead of encrusting pieces in faceted stones, jewelers chose to use enameling, semi-precious stones (usually cut en cabochon) and unusual materials such as moonstone, opal and horn to enhance the beauty and originality of their design. Soon, copies of artisan pieces were being mass-produced and extravagant style began to decline. Major craftsmen of the Art Nouveau period were René Lalique, Tiffany & Co. Maison Vever, Georges Fouquet, Philippe Wolfers and Lucien Gaillard.

1901

1915

EDWARDIAN

(1901-1915) The death of Queen Victoria, notably, marked the end of the Victorian Era proper. The designs of that period, however, continued to be always popular. Lace and filigree were favorites in the Edwardian period.

The dominant decorative style at the turn of the twentieth century, named after Edward VII of England, who was on the throne from 1901 to 1910. This was a time of luxury, elegance and refined beauty. Fashion became light and airy, with an emphasis on ethereal white layers, delicate lace and a feminine silhouette. Jewelers recreated Belgian lace and downy feathers in platinum, diamonds and pearls. Common motifs were garlands, swags, bows, tassels and wreaths. Peridot, demantoid garnets and amethysts were favorites of King Edward and Queen Alexandra and gained popularity during their reign.

1905 1935 ARTS & CRAFTS

(1905-1935) Notable in this style were designers and architects such as William Morris, Gustav Stickley and Frank Lloyd Wright. The style emphasized simple, functional designs with straight lines and angular forms. It also favored hand-made products over machine-made.

A movement in the decorative arts that began in England in the 1890s and continued until the first World War, although its effects were felt into the 1930s. The movement was based on the philosophy of William Morris, who rejected mass-production and focused on craftsmanship, simple design and truth to materials. Originally intended to bring quality deign and craftsmanship to the common man, with the cost of materials and labor it quickly became an expensive aesthetic embraced by the upper class. Arts & Crafts jewelry focused on abstract natural motifs and humble materials. Artists used silver, copper, enamel and cabochon-cut stones to enhance the design of the piece, preferring them to precious metals and faceted stones. Common motifs are thistle, peacocks and Renaissance and Celtic designs. The style was made especially popular by the work of C.R. Ashbee, who brought the style to Liberty, where it was mass-produced for the public.

1920 1940 Art Deco

(1920-1935) Characterized by clothing designer Erté and painters like Tamara DeLempika, the Art Deco movement frequently used long sharp lines and bright colors. Similar to the Arts and Crafts movement which was happening at the same time, much of the Art Deco style was very angular. The influence of the Art Nouveau style was still evident in some typography and the use of naturel' motifs.

A decorative style that originated in France during the 1920s and 30s, named after L’Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes of 1925. Art Deco emphasized geometric design, abstract pattern and exotic motifs, leaving behind the sensuous curves and soft colors of the nineteenth century. Craftsmen embraced modern streamlined designs, with geometric gemstone cuts and bold color combinations taking center stage. Diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires were the gems of choice, embellishing the long necklaces and dripping earrings of the time.

1930 1955 RETRO

Retro is a term used for jewelry from the 1930s through early 50s that are characterized by large, glamorous designs in yellow and rose gold. Synthetic and semi-precious stones were popular as precious stones were scarce. During the depression, World War II and the post-war years, metals and stones were harder to come by so jewelers creatively used small amounts of material to create chunky, machine-inspired pieces. Retro jewelry is still wearable and en vogue today.

1960

1980

Minimalist