Welcome to the ABA! Bell Talk Forums General `Bell Stuff` Does an obscure foundry impact value?

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    • #12255

      Hello All,

      I am not well versed in antique bells but have inherited, 3 bells , 2 of which I may sell.
      They are both 21″ bronze with yoke, clapper and wheel. I tried to research them but there is very scant information on the foundries but both are from Montreal. The identifying words:
      1) C.O. Clark & Bro , Founder, Montreal (would have to be 1800’s).
      2) Chanteloup, Thomas Colonisation, 1880. (Chanteloup led me to Montreal)

      My question then would be are bells like coins where rarity converts into value or is the value
      related to a quality foundry?

      Best regards-

    • #17474

      What a refreshingly interesting question! Kudo’s for such a thought provoking query!

      Does Rarity and/or Obscurity affect the value?

      Well that is very hard to answer, but it’s ‘maybe’.
      If I may explain my thoughts?

      Rarity, in and of itself, does not necessarily impact value – as I am sure you well know. There has to be an interest as well. To use an example, old cameras (except for the wet slide bellows type) don’t tend to have a lot of value, generally speaking. For some reason collectors for them are much less than the amount of ‘stock’
      available. So interest is low even for rarer models. There simply aren’t enough interested people for them! Sad but true.

      The interest comes from the item’s history &/or displayability &/or it’s intricacy &/or it’s functionality in combination with the number of people collecting it.

      History ties in to Knowledge of what it is and where it is. If it’s being offered in an area that has local interest (i.e. the manufacturer was in the area) or historical significance is known then the value goes up. To use a coin example (as you seem to know them and likely are aware of my example); There is a silver dollar coin in Canada that, for a few years when they came out, some were counter stamped by a jeweler in Western Canada. To my understanding this is the only time a Canadian coin was permitted to be defaced like that. Many experienced coin collectors who obtained samples simply thought they were defaced and had the stamp filled in with silver. In reality it is a rare coin and the jeweler was highly respected and very instrumental in getting the coins produced. Sort of like the ‘father of the silver dollar’ idea. So here we had a rare coin, fewer of those years were produced and fewer yet had the counter stamp, so very historically significant especially in Western Canada, yet the value was less because of the perceived “damage” to the coin. The value also goes up in the coin, the closer you get to the jeweler’s home town, due to local interest. So definitely further research into the bell manufacturer’s history is really needed!

      Also, if the object displays well, little damage, not overly bulky, good functionality (ring tone in the bell for example), then as a class, they will be more coveted. That means that rarer versions of the same item, with provenance especially, will tend to sell for higher prices. More people are collecting them so competition for the uniquer pieces occurs. Items that don’t meet that criteria have less competition so prices for it might be only slightly higher if at all. Ye ol supply and demand kicking in!

      If the item is still usable in some form or another, again relating to how well it can be displayed, then again the prices tend to be higher. A bell that is complete and can be easily mounted, looks good and sounds good would sell well both for display purposes and as a functional yard bell or some such. Again then, visibly rarer ones would command a better price point.

      Construction material, which you don’t mention, also impacts the prices. Iron bells were typically farm bells or utility bells and were produced in greater numbers in more foundries (so rarer foundries are of less interest in and of themselves except perhaps locally), while Brass tended to be more industrial (trains etc. for cross collecting) and Bronze tended to be more marine in nature (less corrosive impact from salt water). Brass and Bronze were more expensive so tend to command higher prices even today.

      So to get back to your question, does the rarer manufacturers cause the bell to have a higher price? Mostly yes, but only if it’s a recognized difference and if there are a sufficient number of collectors for that class of bell. Otherwise it simply commands the same price as others of that style.

      Unfortunately it’s a larger class of bell than I collect (simply put, shipping charges to where I live are so prohibitive that they become priced too high), so I can’t advise you on this specific example. Hopefully though my rambling thoughts might help a bit and/or prompt some additional responses for you here!

      Good luck with the bells!

    • #17475

      @ gmiddleton

      Thank you very much for your erudite overview. I am struggling to post pictures right now because my server just announced ‘upgrades’ and we all know how that ends up.
      I sent more detailed information to the moderator and was told that it would be posted in this thread and I do not see it yet but admittedly haven’t had the time to familiarize myself with the procedures.
      There is scant information on the long defunct foundries but they are identifiable. I had considered contacting relevant historical associations to garner some interest but as most are financially strapped these days they would probably try to appeal to my civic conscience and suggest a donation.

      As much as I would like to do that in the deepest part of my soul I have fallen short of the life goals I had set as a teenager, namely to be the emperor of the world, and at this point have to deal with financial realities and the limitations of my benevolence stay in the realm of family, friends and neighbours.

      In making a sweep of the internet I am left with the impression that bronze bells of the size I am in possession of are a bit of a rarity. The ones that I have come across are for some reason in Britain and seem to command a handsome price. However, being just at the stating gate I suppose that the hows and whys will become clearer in due time.

      Again, thank you for your perspective.


    • #17476

      chuckle 😆
      They are, of course, worth something. My response was in terms of ‘relative’ values as per your question “does rarity increase the value”.
      Check out the usual sites for bells of a similar design and size such as auction sites or http://www.brassbell.com etc. to see what similar ones sell for to get a rough idea.

      Good luck with them!

      And never give up on dreams!


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