Welcome to the ABA! Bell Talk Forums Small Bells Bonnet and Basket bell.

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    • #11047

      Here’s another bell I picked up recently, I have seen them around from time to time but now that I have one – think I can find the information on it? Been through my bell books and surfing on line, it’s as if they are hiding.

      I’ll bet the members here will recognize it though!

      Vital stats:
      canoe shaped bell, 3 1/4″ wide by 2 1/4″ deep
      She stands 3 1/2″ high.
      Brass construction

      Carries a basket in front of a pleated dress with flowers.

      Seems to me to be a fairly common model.

      who is she?

      Thanks, Garry

    • #14397

      supplemental question on this one.

      I have since learned that this is one of a series of bells. Anyone out there have any info on that?
      How many in series?

      I have just purchased 3 more of this set (plus a duplicate of this one).


    • #14396
      Carolyn Whitlock


      This is a pretty common bell and one that has many reproductions. It is not unusual to see them for sale in gift shops even now.

      In one of their “Bell Tower Supplements” on figurine and figural bells, Blanche & Stanley Kleven say this bell is Marie Antoinette. “The most elegant lady of the 18th century France was the radiant blonde beauty, Marie Antoinette, wife of Louis XVI. Her court portraits show her in dress almost identical to this figurine with long, tight bodice with low decolletage, tight sleeves with ruffles, huge hoop skirt festooned with ribbons and flowers, and high powdered coiffure dressed with plumes or flowers or ribbons. This is French court dress of the late 18th century.

      The royal ladies of the late 18th century France and England reached an exaggeration of dress that has never been equaled. Headdresses, mounted upward, were fantastically decorated, pomaded, powdered filthy monstrosities! An interesting byproduct of these times was the slender, bejeweled, ivory rod with which milady would seek to dislodge vermin from her head without disarranging her superstructure. Skirts reached six to eight feet across. The problem of accommodating a gentle lady jutting into the candleabra above and the furniture below, must surely have taxed social functions of the day.

      From their elaborate headdresses to their decorative feet, the upper class women constantly demonstrated to the world that they could not possibly do the slightest labor. This is part of the history of fashion, symptomatic of the times – a flaunting of idleness and ostentation, of wealth and nobility. This use of such silken luxury was forbidden by law to the commoner in both France and England. But after the Industrial Revolution and particularly after the French Revolution, these distinctions were hard to enforce. It is said to have become impossible to tell the pot boy from the lord, or the serving wench from her lady.”

      This figurine shows “Marie as she lived and dressed in much simpler fashion at her beloved farm, the Petit Trianon. She hated the corset, but liked wearing “considerations”, which were two half circles used to widen her skirts over her hips. Her mother, Empress Maria Theresa, forbade her daughter to abandon the corset lest she ruin her figure. In these figurines, we see her in simple, wide-brim bonnet, and with soft skirt held wide by panniers. The pannier (French for basket) was a hoop petticoat framework which kept the skirt wide over the hips, but flat in front and back. Many colonial ladies in America copied this French fashion.”

      Former ABA President Rita Walker gave a wonderful talk entitled “Some Brassy Ladies and a Few Gentlemen” at the September 2008 meeting of the New England Chapter. About this bell she says, “This Cast Brass Lady has been given several names. The Gelmans, Klevens and Dorothy Anthony believe she is Marie Antoinette. Some others believe she represents Scarlett O’Hara OR Jenny Lind. As for me, I feel she is JENNY LIND, and I’ll tell you why. In my many years of seeing this particular bell (in various sizes), I’ve never observed any of the usual signs that can pinpoint her as Marie Antoinette, one of which would be her hair style. In any event this bell will always be very special to us because we purchased her at our FIRST A.B.A. convention held in Luray, VA in 1961. [Ours] is nicely detailed & stands 4” tall.”

      So, there are opinions from a couple of our bell experts. Her identification is not definite. She comes in many sizes. She has been reproduced many times.

      As Max Kurillo says, “Enjoy your bell!”


    • #14398

      I had a thought. – What if I asked a person who is familiar with clothing styles as to what they can determine about the bell?

      So I found and submitted this bell to him. Here’s his reply:

      Interesting question! I’m pretty good at my costume history. My first impulse is that it is a figure of a woman dressed in the 1850s to 1860s style. The tiered skirt is a dead giveaway. So is the bonnet.
      But overall the style seems art deco. The large flower motif and the overall silhouette reminds me of the 1920s or 1930s interest in the antebellum period.
      I could prove this with some design images if I spent some time to look. Kind of busy right now.

      I hope this information is helpful, and doesn’t add more confusion to the issue.

      So the question arises; Would a bell manufacturer produce a bell with a mixed up style like that?


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