The History of ATB--
I knew precious little about African Trade Beads whilst I was enjoying spending a lot of time in West Africa during the 1990’s. By lucky chance I met Alaghi Balla when taking a trip in a taxi in 1998 and asked what he did for a living .. his answer that he was a Hausa bead dealer .. completely changed my life.

Meeting him later, looking at the beads he was selling and listening to his stories, was fascinating. I bought 2 strands of very attractive beads and set about finding what they were the next time I was in the UK. Not an easy task, but I eventually found Stefany Tomalin at her former bead shop in Portobello Road in London.

A friendly and very knowledgeable lady, she explained what my beads were .. one strand of not very brilliant African ‘amber’ and one strand of early Venetian glass beads, which I still have today and will never part with. On asking her the value of the Venetian beads and knowing what I had paid for them .. an idea for starting a business sprang up, especially to prolong my involvement with African life.

Knowing I was regularly travelling to and from West Africa, Stefany asked if I could supply her with some beads on my next trip back to the UK .. which, although I knew virtually nothing about them .. I readily agreed to do. In those days, sending faxes was the only way of instant communication and many were sent asking Stefany questions about the beads I started to find.

Gradually being introduced to local and travelling bead dealers and learning a lot, I did take Stefany some beads on my trips back from Africa. But slightly too many for her, so she kindly introduced me to two of her customers. The son of Larry Adler, America’s mouth organ star and Lord MacAlpine ( at the time the largest bead collector in the UK and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s right hand man ).
They were my first customers .. a great honour.

Wanting to be able to find more customers, building a Website was suggested as the best way to do it. Again, knowing little about computers .. I was lucky in having a friend in the UK who supplied me with the means and knowledge of how to do so. 3 months later in early 2000, I had put together a very basic 20 page
 ATB Website and set about learning how to promote it.

Stefany had told me about Peter Francis Jn. .. the world’s leading bead expert in the USA. As I avidly read his Website I noticed his invitation to contact him about any new bead Websites. I did contact him, told him about my novice experiences and found him to be a most friendly and helpful guy, with years of qualified experience in publications and travel to do with beads.

He gave me many useful tips on bead Website creation and invited me to post a message on his Forum announcing the creation of the ATB Website. I was welcomed by most of his forum members, but unfairly ( in my view ) criticised by two of them .. on my lack of knowledge. Asking them if they knew so much, why were they not helping a newcomer with positive suggestions, rather than just self-promoting criticism, sadly resulted in nothing constructive from them at all.

In a couple of forum posts I verbally fought back on behalf of myself and in favour of another inexperienced forum member who they were bullying. Not that I realised it at first, but that was the best thing I could have done. Within a short time the name of ATB became favourably well known in the trade beading world.

 Customers started buying my beads and after a lot of learning and luckily being able to visit many places in West Africa ... I added thousands of high quality beads and expanded the African Website to 800 or so pages. Very quickly it ascended to the top of Google and other important search engines world wide.
A position it still holds today. gives details of most of my varied bead hunting journeys including my Taiwan trip which resulted in the formation of Asian Trade Beads.
Which has also been well-received amongst lovers of more modern styles.

I shall always be indebted to Stefany, Peter, Alaghi Balla, the many bead dealers from all over West Africa who have become good friends over the years and to thousands of my customers word wide. Also to those customers who became friends and invited me to visit them in their home countries, allowing me to enjoy yet more fascinating experiences. My sincerely grateful thanks to you all.

With this 50% Off Sale I shall now endeavour to sell the remaining African and Asian bead stocks. Both the ATB Websites and businesses can be bought as complete up and running businesses with excellent reputations world wide and can easily be transferred to new owners.

If necessary any remaining Beads, Websites and Domain Names will later be sold off-line at auction .. so you are kindly invited to take advantage of the situation and make inclusive offers now, if you wish to take over either successful business.

All the Very Best

David Nevill
African and Asian Trade Beads