Welcome to the ABA! Bell Talk Forums Small Bells Can anyone tell me what kind of a bell I have?

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    • #12289
      ValWilliams
      Member

      About 27 years ago I bought a box lot for $1 at an estate sale in Ohio and this bell was in the box. It is very rustic and seems almost handmade. It has the most beautiful clear sounding ring to it. There looks to be a piece broken off of the top. I would love to know what kind of metal it is made of. A magnet does not stick it. The bell has a golden look to it and the clapper copperish. It is 2 1/2″ tall x 2″ wide. The clapper is secured to an opening in the bell with twisted wire. Thank you so much in advance!

    • #17555
      Garry
      Participant

      Welcome Val!

      You have found a nice little treasure! I am still looking for corroboration but I feel you have a late 1700’s early 1800’s locally made animal bell. It has elements of early manufacture combined with a nice decorative ring structure that indicates an above average quality item. One caveat I have to make, is that it is very difficult to say for certain when only having small photos to look at. So please don’t hold us to ‘but you said’, there is no substitute for personal inspection! Sorry, but colors and shadows change in photos even on the screen (I have seen blue change to green when I finally saw it in person for example!).

      But I personally don’t think anything really broke off the top, it think it’s the remnant of the hole where the brass was poured into the mold to form the bell. It would have been nice if they had buffed it out but as it’s likely an animal bell, that’s not worth the extra expense for a part that would be hidden by the collar! The clapper arrangement (a tubular chunk of metal hooked onto a wire let through a hole in the top of the bell) is also a very early form. This is one of the easier ways to attach the clapper without having to drill or having to somehow form an integral loop to hang the clapper from. (The next easiest form to make has a bar across the top of the inside dome to hang the clapper from.) The thickness of the bell also indicates early manufacture. I suspect the circular groove pattern was cut in afterwards with a sharp tool, but that needs hands on inspection to confirm. It is consistent with the rest of the form though. The clappers were often made from leftover metals of other pours simply recast in a tube form like you see in your bell. It’s metal content is therefore usually quite different and shows by the different color you see.

      So I think you have an early locally made animal bell of brass, likely made by the town blacksmith. Later bells were thinner, and the clappers hung by chain (to save on metal).

      From my research, in the early 1800’s, although Ohio was mostly known for it’s agricultural crops such as corn, cattle, sheep, and pigs were also pretty common (ohiohistorycentral.org). Eastern Ohio appears to have some pretty rugged terrain and it’s very common world wide to have bells of this type on grazing animals so that you can find them more easily when they wander off in topography like that. Add to this that brass metals are mined in Ohio (such as copper!) and you have a strong indication that this is likely the source area for your bell.

      I don’t know if this information is what you are expecting, but that’s what I think you have! Unless someone recognizes it from personal history, or you choose to send it out for things like metal content tests (which can sometimes tell where the metals came from), that kind of thing – I don’t know if it can be taken much farther here. Definitely let us know the results here if you do!

      Hopefully this reply helps!
      Garry

    • #17554
      ValWilliams
      Member

      Garry,
      Wow! Thank you so much for that information on my bell. I’ve never parted with it and have held onto it for all this time because I thought it was such a little treasure find…even though I had no idea what kind of a bell it was. It was from the Dayton, Ohio area. I just weighed it and it is 5.1 ounces. But it has the nicest ring. It’s on the high pitch sound and a single ring will take a good 4-5 seconds to fade away. To think it is from the late 1700’s early 1800’s makes me cherish it even more. I’ve taken a few more photos with more detail that may be interesting to you.
      Much appreciation!
      Val

    • #17556
      Garry
      Participant

      You are most welcome!

      I think it either hung from one of the sheep or from a sheep dog collar, myself, if I had to guess!

      The new images show a lot of pitting on the inside, which is typical of a sand cast type of bell. The fact that it’s not overly cleaned up inside is also typical of a utility animal bell (vs one used by people like in a store, where they would see it).

      The reverberation length is due to a combination of the metal quality and thickness to hold the tone that long!

      It’s interesting to see that the clapper also has been broken off where it was poured, the ones I usually see have smoothly rounded bottoms!

      Enjoy your bell!

      Garry

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