Welcome to the ABA! Bell Talk Forums Large Bells Bell found in Southern Mexico

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    • #10878

      Clay in California says:

      i have a bell that is solid brass 10″wide 14″ tall on one side has maria 1610 on the other has jesvs was found in southern mexico in an old shipping grave yard in the early 1960’s perfect condition would like to have some information on it thanks

      He sends no picture.

      If you can help, please post a response.

      This inquiry was originally sent to the ABA’s Internet Coordinator. Responses are opinions of individuals based on their personal research and knowledge.


    • #13822

      Bells like yours are miniature copies of historic Spanish bells and were made in Mexico in the 20th century as souvenir/gift items. They turn up on eBay often, sometimes being described as 17th or 18th century treasures by sellers who are either untruthful or don’t know what they really have. Most have a green patina and a chain inside with the striker attached at the end.

    • #13823


      Are there any hints for us newbie folks on these types of bells, to distinguish the real from the fake? I know I have been tempted a number of times on them myself. Never quite bought one, mostly out of frustration of not wanting to get taken. But there must be a number of real ones out there too. Most bells are made in different sizes so I suspect these were too. Of course I also came across some articles on them, including one reported to be from a buyer who was told by one of the indigenous folk as to how he faked them (to deceive).

      I know I ran into a similar issue with a Swiss Chiantel Foundry Bell, also called a Saignelecier bell with 1878 stamped on the side. I bought it only to discover that there was no way to authenticate it’s age. In fact, my research found that this mold was actually purchased by another foundry and is being used to produce these bells even today! So without a lot of documentation there is no way I have found for a regular Joe to tell the authentic aged one from the authentic new one. 🙄 Perhaps a metallurgy test of some sort…maybe involving chicken bones? 😈

      Any how, I digress.


    • #13824

      Although some of those Mexican-made bells are rather large, perhaps 10-20 pounds, the original Spanish Colonial mission and church bells were much larger, weighing hundreds of pounds or more. The chain with the striker attached to the end instead of a cast iron clapper is a good indication of a fake. Chances of finding one of the originals not in a church, public building, or museum and for sale are probably next to impossible. That 1878 Swiss bell has been in production for decades. I remember it being offered in the Vermont Country Store catalogue in the 1950’s.

    • #13825

      Hi Clay,
      We need some pictures and more measurements and weight. What caught my eye was the word MARIA, just finished a four page report on a 12 inch bell dated 1705 with the same word MARIA. What is strange is the date of 1610, please RECHECK with a magnifying glass, are there any other marks on the surface? Take it to a supermarket and they will weigh it for you, where is the date and the word located on the bell ( near the shoulder, in the waste area or around the the bottom). are there any rings (bands) that go around the bell. what type of attachment for hanging does it have. If you do not have a camera draw us a picture showing what it looks like ( Carolyn can work wonders with pictures, drawings, sandscript, wall paintings, etc.). All the old Mexican souvenir bells are in the 1800s, I am not up on pirate history 1610 might be to early for these sea adventurers. MARIA could be Spanish, Portuguese, or perhaps Italian.
      This is going to be exciting, have fun with it and please get back to us. Max Kurillo

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