Welcome to the ABA! Bell Talk Forums Small Bells Can anyone help me ID this bell?

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    • #11043

      This bell was recovered about 25 years ago in a ranch in Mexico. It appears to have the year 1811 marked on it along with many floral designs. Since it was found, it never showed signs of oxidation or patination. There are some parts of the bell missing but I cannot identify them since I know nothing about bells and their components. This bell measures approximately 3 1/4” in height and 4 1/4” in diameter. I would greatly appreciate it if anyone can give me any information. Thank you.


    • #14387


      A couple questions to start things off!

      Does the smaller bell have any attachment point inside it?
      Do you have a photo showing the top of the main bell to see how it was hung better?
      Do you know what it is made of? (Weight, does it hold a magnet)?

      As a starting guess, from what I can see of the top of the main bell and noting the bell ‘clapper’ as well as your comment about it being outside and not corroding, (and pending further information) I’d suggest it is part of a nested hanging set of bells

      I know these are not exactly the same, but here’s a photo of what I am envisioning you have.

    • #14388

      Hello Garry,
      the clapper does have a connecting point inside so it must be a nested hanging set of bells. The weight of the bell is about 1- 1.5 lbs. The bell did not hold the magnet but the clapper did show a slight attraction. The clapper is attached to the bell by what looks to be a chain of copper wire which is tied around a screw. Also, I polished an area of the bell and no paint came off so I do not believe that it has a painted finish.


    • #14389

      This is a modern Mexican bell and appears to have a Sarna bell as a clapper. Max Kurillo has commented on these bells several times in this forum. Usually the bell has a handle and has been burried in manure to develop a dark green patina and is passed off as a very old mission bell. These bells are quite common, but most of the ones that I have seen have the handle and a steel clapper.
      Harry Long, MD

    • #14390


      I am not sure now, that it is a nested bell arraignment.

      You appear to have a memorial type bell for the Mexican Independence Movement. Here are a couple related articles:

      “The 1811 Independence Movement known in El Salvador as Primer grito de independencia (First Shout of Independence) was the first of a series of revolts in Central America in El Salvador against Spanish colonialism and Guatemalan dependency”

      “July 30, 1811. On this date in 1811, Mexican independence icon Miguel Hidalgo was shot for treason at the government palace in Chihuahua.
      The subversive priest had set the spark to the Mexican War of Independence in the hours before sunrise of September 16, 1810. There, he rang the parish bell in the small town of Dolores and issued his “Grito de Dolores” — “Cry of Dolores” — summoning native Amerindians and mestizos to throw off the Spanish.”

      Did you take it to a jeweler? It is hard to tell from the photo’s but I am wondering if it’s a gold plated brass wind chime commemorating this event. The Jeweler should be able to tell you if it’s gold or gold paint (depending upon the market class it was destined for). You might also be able to tell if there is any damage on the bell to examine. A deep cut for example.

      It appears to be a mass produced sand cast piece, probably for a number of different “uses” as the larger bell appears to have been made for optional attachment hangers. (hard to tell from the photos, but it looks like a bolt end.) For example a simple bracket to attach to the side of the house and hang in the wind, or a loop to hang from a strap, or (with a different clapper) attached to a wheel with a group of them acting as a ‘door bell’ in a church.

      I’m still looking…



    • #14391

      Hi MRrobles3,
      Welcome to our wonderful bell site. What do we have here?, something new has been presented, a different shade of lipstick on a pig. No I am not calling your bell a pig only a verbal expression. Harry you are correct. This is one of the Mexican type souvenir bells, made circa 1950, that has parts missing and has been altered with this Serna type bell as a clapper and painted or plated gold color, end of message. The dates that these bells have on them are random, and to indicate that they are related to a historical event would be an insult to history. This is a nice little bell, it’s worth only what you paid for it. With a slight addition of a screw eye at the top you can hang it and enjoy it for years. Make up stories about it or ask guests, after a few drinks, to make up stories. But most of all enjoy it, after all it is over 50 years old.
      Max Kurillo

    • #14392


      I would tend to believe Max and Harry’s analysis. They have been working with bells much longer than I, and are a veritable fountain of knowledge. What was bothering me about the bell was twofold:

      1 the bolt attachment for the ‘clapper’ going through the top worried me as usually a bell attachment is molded into the bell itself (unless it’s a small desk or hand bell) and not drilled through like yours. That is one reason why I was suggesting the nested hanging bells.

      2 the other thing was the lack of ‘crispness’ (for lack of a better adjective!) of the designs. This could be due to a fuzzy picture (ie increasing the magnification can cause that from pixilation effects). The query I had about the jeweler looking at it or looking for a deep scratch was to see if it was painted and with what- if so. My thoughts were along the lines, if gold – then it was probably a commemorative piece.

      I don’ t know what Max’s and Harry’s experiences have been, but mine is that both ‘fakes’ or reproduction pieces that I have come across, do try to pass themselves off as related to a point in history. Not necessarily to deceive, although there are some that do that, but usually as a commemorative piece who’s provenance is blurred over time. (Yep, I tend to believe in the good in people – I’m a “glass is half full” type person!) Those items tend to have elements incorporated in them from that era for that reason. I personally don’t think it so bad to call it a piece commemorating a historical event, [there were a couple of Mexican events at that time], as I find we tend to forget our history all too readily in this world we live in. Anything that helps counter that is good – in my opinion – so long as it isn’t used to deceive.

      I suspect you have a reproduction Mexican Bell, just as Harry and Max say, less expensive in construction and modified so that it can be hung outdoors from a bracket of some sort, without concern with theft or corrosion. I think it was painted with gold colored metal protective paint to pretty it up and probably was a commemorative/decorative design rather than an ‘original’ series. I found two historical events of that time, for Mexico, so you probably could realistically relate it to either one as a newer commemorative piece. “newer” being relative of course!

      Remember, Imitation is a sincere form of flattery! At your worst case scenario, they didn’t copy a old ugly useless bell. If it rings nice and looks pretty, why not display it? I put little write-ups with mine so that people know if it is original or not and the history behind both the item and what it represents. It’s amazing how many guests read those! Some wander for over an hour through my collections without noticing the time, due to those tags. [Of course the wife isn’t so sure that this is a good thing…!] One nice thing about a reproduction piece, you don’t worry about people handling them and they do so enjoy the tactile (and audio) experience!

      As Max says: Enjoy it!

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