Welcome to the ABA! Bell Talk Forums General `Bell Stuff` Crotal Bell Factoid sheet.

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    • #11654

      As part of my research on Crotal bells, I have been developing a cheat sheet on them. There is a lot of conflicting information out there (to lesser or greater degrees) but this seems to be the ‘facts’ that are most often agreed to on the variety of sources I have found to date.

      Let me know if you have other information to add, or if I have overlooked something or have an incorrect ‘factoid’ here!
      I hope to add to this thread later with some data on how the bells are poured and some photo examples of some of these bells, etc.

      Have a look at my next post!


    • #16149

      Crotal Bells – Data Summary

      Common Crotal bell names: _____ bell:
      Rattle (Crotal is Latin for Rattle), Pellet (for the pea inside), Rumble (as a general name for an unattached clapper), and Jingle (Santa’s).

      Key Dates: (Roughly)
      9th Century: earliest confirmed Crotal bell – found in tombs.
      – First forms were 4 petal flower types from pounded metal where the petals were
      later folded over to enclose the pea (usually a stone).
      Primarily made from sheets of tin or copper
      1300’s bells formed by two cup shaped halves soldered together.
      Pewter (White Metal) being used.
      Bottom halves were splayed out & later folded over ridge on top half to crimp together.
      Early forms had multiple horizontal and vertical ribbing.
      1400’s bells were being molded rather than hammered into shape.
      +/- 1500’s single mold bells being formed.
      1800’s petal designs added to top and bottom of the bells.
      Pre 1845 were generally egg shaped, slits had circular ends, the shank was drilled.
      Post 1845 distinct middle ridges,
      – introduction of screws or rivits through top used to attach bell to strap.
      Late 1800’s only lower half of bells decorated (generally).
      1870’s Nickel and Tin plating introduced
      1940’s Chroming process introduced

      Bell sizing numbers:
      Numbered Crotal bells are a late introduction and are a ‘convention’ (general agreement) rather than a ‘rule’ (standardized agreement), so there are variations to their meaning. Larger bells tend to be looser in how they are defined, for example.
      General rule seems to be: 1 and x over 8 (1 x/8) inches, where X is the number on the bell.
      Examples: a bell marked “3” is 1 and 3/8” in diameter.
      One marked “4” is 1 and 4/8” (and from middle grade math we know that
      the fraction 4/8 reduces to ½) so is 1 and 1/2” in diameter.

      Bell Parts/Construction:
      The slit in the bottom of the bell is called the THROAT.
      – there can be 1, 2, 3, or even 4 throats in these bells (3 & 4 being a Swedish form) and this is where the
      sound comes from.
      they usually end in a circular shape to reduce stress cracking caused by sharp corners.
      The rounded ridge of newer bells is a hold over from when they were crimped or soldered together.
      – It’s considered to be mostly of aesthetic value but does serve to provide additional strength to the bell and helps hide imperfections when the two mold halves don’t quite meet in the pouring stage.
      The holes in the top are leftovers from the pouring process and have nothing to do with the sound formation,
      (which is why hammered bells don’t have them).
      – older and smaller bells tended to only have two, later and larger bells sport 4 of them.
      – they are used to help keep the sand core plug centered during the pour.
      The rattle or pea inside is usually metal now, but originally was a pebble.
      The top tang is actually the “sprue” the piece of metal formed from the hole that the metal is poured into the mold. Earlier bells had the tang removed and rivits or screws or wire used to attach the bell instead. Later ones were drilled out to make a circular hole. The end would be then pushed through a button hole on the strap and a cotter Pin run through it to stop it from slipping out again. Even later ones were actually added to the form with the hole part of the mold (avoids the drilling out step) and make a U shape rather than a round shaped hole.

      The metals:
      Base metal bells of one metal, typically Gold, Silver, Tin, or Copper
      Pot or White metal is an alloy – mixture of about 80% tin and 20% copper
      Bronze is an alloy – mixture of about 80% copper and 20 % tin (opposite of white metal!)
      Brass is an alloy – 80-90% copper, 9-15% Zink, and the rest tin and/or lead
      German Silver is an alloy of Brass with Nickel added to make the silver color.

    • #16151

      Thought I’d add some photos to this thread – a picture being worth a thousand words after all!!!

      Don’t forget: double click the photos to enlarge!

    • #16148

      Here’s a closer look at the shank areas.
      I should mention that there is one form that I am not showing here, simply because I don’t have an example of it yet.
      It looks like a thin rectangular tab on top, with an oval hole in the middle. The idea is that you insert this tab through a slit in the harness then push a cotter or locking pin through the bit of hole that makes it through the strap, to lock it in place.

      I’ll add a photo of that when (if) I manage to get one!

      (oops accidentally added them in reverse to the order I intended, oh well. 😳 I think it still works.)

    • #16150

      Here is an example of the Shank Bell style. (I said I’d post one when I got it!)

      The other interesting thing about this bell (marked HB for Hiram Barton) is that it is about 2″ in diameter but still only has two holes on the top (one on either side of the shank). To my understanding, that is unusual for a bell this size – they needed 4 holes to hold the core in place, but since it’s also a soldiered center line that feature probably isn’t needed as much as it would have been poured in two halves. I believe it to be early to mid 1800’s.

      There is another interesting design feature, that doesn’t show well in the photos, which I haven’t seen discussed much on these ‘daisy’ bells:
      the U shaped petals ‘connect’ to a circular ring, that frames the H and B (along with 2 small circles on either side of each letter). That part is normal, but what I haven’t seen mentioned us that the circular ring on this one is filled with a series of punched ‘dots’ running roughly in the center of the ring, all the way around.

      I don’t know if those Dot’s have any meaning yet, or if it’s just something that hasn’t been mentioned because it has no relevance.


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