Welcome to the ABA! Bell Talk Forums Small Bells any info on this bell would be great

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    • #25512

      Hello there
      I’ve recently joined this forum because i bought a bell from an antiques place. I’m not a collector and I’m not searching in hopes its worth money or anything but it does look old and i can’t help but be curious as to where it might be from or how old it roughly might be. I’m hoping to get some opinions and see if anyone might know or have information to share.
      So here’s a little info, i think the style is called petal bell or crotal????(I’m not sure) it is pretty heavy for a little thing, my husband says its made of brass, and the rattler inside we think looks like its a smoothed stone, i dont think its completely round and it does have a couple little marks on it here and there and it does have a bit of weight to it too. I can’t find any makers stamps, initials or numbers other than the very faded designs on it, theres 2 on the lower half and 2 on the upper half and all of them are very faded, i can’t make them out at all but i think they all appear to be the same design.
      I’m aware that it could be a “fake” (something brand new that has been made to look like an antique) and thats fine, i just bought it cause i thought it was cool looking and cute.
      so any knowledge on the bell would be great, how old it is, where its from, antique or not, if its worth anything….any info really
      thanks and i hope to get some responses soon
      cheers!!! 🙂

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    • #25538

      Welcome to the site!
      Yes, this is a Crotal bell (Greek ‘crotalon’ – castanet or rattle) or rumble bell or elephant bell (or sleigh bell) and does look well used. You can test it with a strong magnet (like a rare earth one) to see if it has any iron in the pea or the bell itself. It is not unusual for small stones to be used as the rattle inside though. Also metal scraps left over from the bell pour were often used as well.

      Can / Did the dealer give you anything else on it? The rounded stone inside is interesting, they usually didn’t take that sort of care with it on earlier bells. Can you tell what sort of rock it is? (ie marble?) Also do you see any corrosion / marks / discoloring / wear on the inside? Usually the inside is pretty rough from the pour (sand imprinted) and doesn’t get polished out when the bell is manufactured. So a rock rolling around for a significant period of time should show some wear marks inside. If it hasn’t been used or only lightly used then no wear points inside would be seen. Please be aware: This isn’t a test saying ‘not old’ as the wear marks would be thin lines inside where the ball and the side meet so are easy to miss, but rather an indicator of age, if you can find the marks!

      Let us know the results of this and the magnet test if you would.

      Here’s a reprint of a similar request on this site that I replied to a while back that might help:

      “… a nice Crotal bell, this site has some details on them in general:
      and here where they show makers marks for North America:
      (why should I spoil it for you? Have fun exploring and finding it, it’s there!)

      This site shows you a history of this type of bell, their styles, and how they are made:
      As well as many of the common marks across the pond.

      The number 4 refers to it’s size usually. If you do a search on this web site for Crotal Bell you will see a plethora (big word!) of postings on them! They are a style most of us have samples of. a “Crotal Bell Factoid Sheet” is also something I posted here a while back from my researches (yep you can search for it too!) including how to read the numbers. It’s about 4 pages back in the crotal search now, I believe. Boy how time flies!

      (The search box is in the magnifying glass at the top on the Far Right, in case you didn’t notice it!)

      Half the fun is poking around and seeing what other tidbits fall out. You might be surprised what you discover!

      Who knows? Maybe you will get hooked and become a regular here too!”

      We have a few other articles on them that might help as well.


      • #25545

        Hello again, sorry for taking so long to reply
        anywho, thanks so much for the links to the sites
        its funny because i actually contacted classic bells and sent them the pictures and description and the person i was in contact with said that there wasn’t really much they could tell me about the bell, they said that its clearly from someplace other than the british isles or north america and guessed it might be a traditional design from asia or nepal/india/tibet.
        I also tried the magnet test and it didn’t do anything with the bell but surprisingly enough it was the rattler inside (the pea?) that wanted to stick to it. I thought it was a rock but i guess not, its not completely round so I’m assuming its due to all the rolling around inside. Also, about the wear on the inside of the bell, the slit at the bottom of the bell is much thinner than the rest of the bell and i dont know if it would be visible in the pictures but the very edges of the slit has a slight outward lip to it so I’m assuming that would all be caused by the wear of the pea rolling around.
        The place i got it from is a large building and people pay for booths to sell their stuff but the actual people dont come in to sell, the staff that work there ring your purchases through and help the customers and thats it, so they didn’t know anything about the bell and i didn’t ask.
        If i ever get around to it i might post a rough sketch of what i can try to make out of the designs.
        So ya, i’ll have another little poke around those sites and i’ll be interested to know what you think if any of this info is helpful
        Thanks again 🙂

      • #25570

        so you have an iron pellet for the rattle inside! That’s a step up from a rock, that the earliest and the cheaper ones use (not that they are all that cheap!). The ‘damage’ to the bottom you describe could be from a number of factors, someone with knowledge of these bells would have to take a closer look to try and figure out what. It could be a poor mold (such as a copy of the bell from the original), or perhaps the rattle was replaced with the iron pellet by spreading the lips there (weakest point) or, as you suggest, perhaps wear as that’s the spot the pellet spends most of it’s time.

        I would be interested in what you can make of the designs.

        You might also look closely at the article on how these bells were cast and put together. That rim around the middle is suggestive!

        Keep us informed if you find more clues!

    • #25544
      Carolyn Whitlock

      You might also want to contact the ABA Historian: historian@americanbell.org and ask her to email you one or some of the articles about sleigh bells and/or crotal bells that have been published in our magazine, The Bell Tower, over the years. For more info, go to: https://www.americanbell.org/bt-index-category/.

      Yours is a lovely, old bell. Enjoy it!


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