Welcome to the ABA! Bell Talk Forums Small Bells Family Gift Bell – "F. Hemony"

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    • #11031

      I am seeking information on a bell that my Father gave me. I have known this bell all my life, as it has always been in his house. The bell was given to my parents as a wedding gift by my Great-Grandmother in the Netherlands. My Father moved to the USA from the Netherlands and brought the bell with him and his new bride in 1958. The bell has been in our family (in the Netherlands) for generations, Family rumor has it that this bell was saved from melting, but I do not know more than that about the history of this bell. With the exceptions below:

      There are two lines of text on the bell
      “F. HEMONY ME FECIT ANNO 1561”
      As well as “LVCA + MARCVS + MATHEVS + JOHANNES + ” Which appear to me to be books of the New Testament.
      There are several pictures separated by what appears to be feathers, one of a lion, one of a man holding an open book , one of a griffin (I think) and an eagle. There appears to be two casting lines within the pictures on either side of the bell.

        It is made of bronze (magnet test and also the long lasting resonance of the sound)
        The inner chain rusted away at one time and one of my ancestor’s retro-fitted a loop and screw inside to hold the clapper. The clapper is now on a length of metal that is too short based on the original clapper pocks along the inside.
        The handle has two snakes facing eachother eating an oval or something.
        Height is about 10 and 1/3rd inches high with handle
        width of bell mouth is about 7 1/3rd inches wide.
        It weighs more than 6 lbs on a household scale (hard to tell)
        It sports some sort of lathe work on the inside of the bell, with rings at different levels and heights.

      Any information would be truly insightful.
      Thank you

    • #14336

      This bell is beautiful and somewhat unique. The Hemony brothers, Pieter (1619-1680) and Francois (1609-1667) were noted bell founders who perfected the carillon. They were born in Levecourt, France and traveled throughout the low countries to cast bells. Francois eventually moved to Amsterdam to establish a foundry that cast at least 20 carillons before his death. Pieter then took over control of the foundry until his death. They apparently came from a family of bell founders and were responsible for training subsequent European bell founders, although there is little documentation following Pieter’s death. There are numerous handbells that have the F. Hemony or Jacob Serke name on the base. They all carry a date in the 1590s and therefore could not have been cast then by either of the famous Hemony brothers. Most are felt to be reproductions of earlier bells and the quality of the casting would support that theory. Your bell, on the other hand is finely cast and appears to have been cast by the “lost wax method”, making it older than most of the reproductions that are on the market today. Yours also has the design of the “Evangelist” bell with the Latin names and religious symbols of the four evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. I have not seen this design on Hemony bells before although the Evangelist Bells are quite common in Belgium, France, and the Netherlands. Your bell probably dates to the late 1700s or early 1800s given the workmanship and design. Whether it was cast by a descendant of the Hemony brothers or was patterned after an earlier bell, I cannot say. It is a beauty, and given the family history, is a treasured heirloom regardless of its origin and date. The handle and design suggests that it was intended for use as a Sanctus bell in the church, to be rung prior to consecration of the Host.
      Harry Long, MD

    • #14337

      There’s a query in the “small bells” section of this website dated 5-14-07 regarding one of these.

    • #14338

      I read the “small bell” topic, thank you for the information.

      My family history is mainly based in Haarlem and nearby areas of the Netherlands. My Genealogy work brings the family to the mid 1500’s in that area. I do know that there is a set of bells in a church in Haarlem that were cast by Francois (and at one time the Carrillion was actually played by Handel). My father also has 2 old “Foot Warmers” that were designed to hold a small metal container with embers so those attending church in a large stone cathedral would not become chilled. These are also imported from the Netherlands by my family, and were given to my Grandparents by the same Great Grandmother.

      After further study I now understand that this bell was tuned, based on the lathe rings inside. Is this unusual for reproduction bells?

    • #14339

      I think it depends on the maker. Reproduction doesn’t necessarily mean inferior or cheap. Some items are made for the high-end market.

    • #14340

      The internal lathe rings together with the excellent workmanship suggest that this is an older bell and not one of the more modern (late 19th-20th Century “knock offs” that were sand cast and have shallow relief). I do not think that it was cast in the 1500s, however, unless it was cast by an ancestor of the Hemony brothers. The workmanship is consistent with 1700s or early 1800s when that type of Sanctus bell was in common usage in the churches.
      HJLong, MD

    • #14341

      Thank you both for the insights! I now have a better understanding of this family artifact.
      Just for fun I took some more photos of the bell so you can see the detail of the pictures:
      (two more photos after this posting to go)

      PS: I never noticed before but all three of these offer a book, not just the man, but the eagle and griffin as well.

    • #14342

      This one clearly shows a seam going though…

      Rings on the inside, as well as the clapper pocks inside the rim:

    • #14343

      @hjlong wrote:

      A picture would be helpful to determine the manufacturer and type of bell. In the US, large bronze church bells sell for ~$100/inch diameter at the skirt. Rare bells or bells with an elaborate design will fetch a higher price.
      Harry Long, MD

      I found this answer on another posting, would this $100/inch diameter also apply to my bell? Or would it be considered rare or elaborate?

      Thank You again.

    • #14344

      The $100/inch applies to large bronze church bells. Yours is individually valued based on its unique design and age. Most of the modern reproductions sale for <$50. Older bells of the vintage of yours can sale from $100-$500 depending on their size and uniqeness. I would estimate yours to be at the mid to upper range of value.
      HJLong, MD

    • #14345

      You should weigh it, and keep a record of the weight, width and height, and, as you posted here, the family history. This record, especially with older bells, sometimes adds to the value of the bell.

      I’ve handled many of these Hemony and Serke bells and I’ve never seen this one. It’s wonderful and certainly uncommon.

    • #14346


      J’ai dû supprimer votre message, car nous ne sommes pas
      permettre aux gens de faire de la publicité le fait qu’ils ont
      cloches pour la vente sur d’autres sites Web.

      Carolyn, ABA Internet Coordinator

      Note: This is a message to Philippe telling him that I had to remove his message because we do not allow people to advertise their bells for sale that are posted on other websites.

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