Welcome to the ABA! Bell Talk Forums Small Bells fake or real? Han Dynasty Crotal Bell

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    • #11366

      Looking for experts! (You know “experts” right? X= mathematical unknown – Spurt = fluid drop squeezed out, so expert = an unknown drip under pressure? 😀 )

      How does one authenticate this one? The shape is right but it seems to be in rather good condition considering it’s claimed age. Even the ball clapper inside is there!

      The claim of the seller is that its an “Ancient Chinese Crotal Bell from the Han Dynasty 200 BC”. My research shows that the style is similar and it is Dark brass with encrustations of chemical deposits as if it was buried. encrustation is the same inside and out.

      Vital Stats:
      Non magnetic everywhere.
      1 1/4″ tall
      1 1/8″ wide
      3/4″ deep
      Appears to be a lead ball type clapper.

      Why am I suspicious?
      1. seller doesn’t appear to have provenance to supply, only verbal assurances.
      2. Corrosion coating appears evenly distributed on all surfaces inside and out. I would expect the inside to be more protected and therefore less impacted. (Unless it is a chemically induced corrosion from dipping into a fluid.)
      3. Basic body is in very good shape. No metal rot that I can see anywhere.
      4. Chinese artifacts are generally highly faked right now, makes me automatically suspicious.

      Should I be suspicious 😈 or am I too picky? 🙄

      Perhaps we can start a whole discussion here on detecting fake vs real bells!


    • #15585

      It is hard to determine the age of this bell from its appearance. Good reproductions are being made for export. Does it have a steel, bronze or stone pellet for a clapper. A steel or bronze pellet would indicate a reproduction as stones were used as clappers in the ancient bells.
      Harry Long, MD

    • #15586

      Interesting about the stone Harry!

      It looks grey and doesn’t hold a magnet, so I am guessing it’s a stone.


    • #15579

      Garry, The bell you have is quite like some of the very small bells that were found in prehispanic U.S southwest, northwest Mexico and Peru during circa 900-1200 AD. These were copper (some Cu. alloy) and made, as Harry as mentioned, by (cire perdu) the lost wax. Many archaeologist have reported on these “crotal” bells, of the prehispanic era, the trade, uses, culture, etc. I have a book that is translated from tha Aztec into English relating to making crotal bells. They are very well documented in the very old history of Arizona, New Mexico and Chihuahua Mexico. I cannot find crotal bells of the Han Dynasty, that does not mean they were not made. Ask the seller; When was it found? Where was it found? If an item (bell) is really found at a site then you can request a site name and item number that can be traced back to the dig. To the seller, “Han Dynasty” is more exciting than “old southwest history“. I believe you do not have a real Han bell or even a real prehispanic bell. But, It will look good in your collection. Max Kurillo

    • #15580

      Thanks Max!

      I can’t get the information out of the seller, it’s another of the “came from an estate” deals. So no info available. If it is copper and not brass, it’s an unusual form as it does not show the patina I would expect from copper corrosion and does appear to be pretty strong. It does look like brass to me.

      I am very leery of making an antiquity claim for this bell, unless I can find proof. I did find a line drawing of a similar Chinese bell from about 200 BC in that the clam shell shape was there, but the drawing indicated a more decorative design on it. The corrosion inside being the same as outside gives me pause too, but it is a cement like encrustation in strength and is on the clapper inside, which looks to be a gray pebble.

      If I can find a closer match on the ‘design’ that would help. Even if it is a fake, I’d like to say what it’s a fake of!

      I’ll look into the Northwest Mexico and Peru bells. I bought it from a seller in Ontario, Canada. He gives quite a “shpeel” about the Han Dynasty but nothing about the bell history.


    • #15581

      Garry, Ha yes! The good old Canadian , I have one of his “old crotal bells“, yes, that seller just is not up front, and perhaps his bells were from an ”estate” sale, his sales pitch is less than true. Maybe if we talked French to him it would help. I have to ask the question—where do all of these ”old” crotal stuff come from?. There are also C bell sellers In Great Britian have not had time to check them out as yet, maybe you can try contacting them. I know the general area of where the Mexican bells come from , but these, I have no idea. There is a seller with a Islamic bell, I spent six years in Arabia (with the U.S. govt.) and been to all kinds of functions, (weddings, deaths, holiday, etc) NO BELLS. That does not mean other branches of Islam doesn’t have bells. Bells are related to the Christian and Jewish faith, something to think about. There is a seller in the Netherlands That I have been waiting for an answer on his bell, another no show. Perhaps what we should do is send e-mail to each of the different sellers asking about their Crotal bells. Then compare them, I think this would be a neat bell topic project. I found a nice seven page spread on CROTAL BELLS (search), some nice pictures, makers mark, history etc. mostly in the 1500-1700, very good info. As you can tell I am into the very small bells that were found in prehispanic U.S southwest, northwest Mexico and Peru during circa 900-1200 AD. Will continue on, you have a neat site. best wishes. Max

    • #15582

      Garry, sorry it was Peter Hyde’s site, 😳 Forgot to mention, there is a site thats not user friendly but lots of information on research on bells, call up JSTOR.

    • #15583

      Hi Max!

      Careful! I am Canadian too! I agree with you though, I did not and do not believe this to be authentic.

      Boy you gave a lot of info in your last e-mail! I’ll have to see if I can find that 7 page web that you mentioned.

      But I like to give the benefit of the doubt myself, in that I don’t believe this seller was trying to deceive. I prefer to think that the bell was obtained and marketed through ignorance. Does make for some interesting searches though!

      Tried going to the JSTOR site. Looks interesting but is only open to educational institutions so I can’t get in. 😥
      No luck on finding your 7 page document either.


    • #15584

      Garry, Here is the place I mentioned http://www.ukdfd.co.uk/pages/crotal-bells.html.
      I really think the sellers are victims of stories and only relate what they are told. OH!!!! how I can relate my good times in Canada back in the early 1960s, the swinging times in Medicine Hat. Back to bell talk. If you search archaeology bells, this may be one of your first items that will show up; H. C. P. Bell: Archaeologist of Ceylon and the …
      since archaeology as a technical discipline was not an available option in. Bell’s youth, and all the great colonial archaeologists were self-taught, …
      Note the last line, www……., click on that and JSTOR will come up and ask if you want to buy the article, right hand side of page, you get the first page free. The number is the stock # of the article. Sometimes the article is not for public sale, when you see JSTOR on the bottom line the article may be for sale, click and see. JSTOR has a 23+page index, you can down load, of all the publications they handle. Ordering is very easy and you get it PDF then copy it and save the response. Now you know how to get JSTOR. There are other stores that do the same thing, not as good as JSTOR. The publications JSTOR has is beyond belief . Have fun searching. If you ever want to sell the bell let me know at maxk@cox.net. Max

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