They made their own versions, mixing it with dyes, powdered amber and other additives to achieve the desired result. Secret recipes were jealously guarded.
Prayer beads are the most typical product of the synthetic resin known as faturan. However, the material was used in a variety of functional objects from smoking accoutrements to home furnishings.
The sale at Potteries Auctions in Newcastle-under- Lyme on November 13 included an 17in (43cm) Art Deco-styled table lamp made in a rare and desirable class of faturan that combines a cherry red hue with embedded gold ‘stardust’ particles.
As well as details of its colour, condition and size, potential buyers (most of them from Turkey) were also interested to know the weight – the base tipping 354g on the scales and the corked pedestal 366g.
There were few market precedents to draw on. However, in the knowledge that the best Ottoman faturan tesbih by master makers can occasionally bring more than £10,000, the auction house decided on an estimate of £2000-4000.
In fact, the hammer price tendered by the Turkish buyer was £21,000 (plus 20% buyer’s premium).