February 5, 2009 at 9:47 pm #10791AnonymousInactive
Reba in Ohio asks for a recommendation for which Fenton Bells are good for beauty and investment purposes. If you have any advice for her, please respond. Thanks. Carolyn (Admin)
I am interested in collecting bells. Mostly Fenton because they are so lovely. I know with any hobby it can be expensive. I want something I can add as an investment and beauty. I have a feeling you can be a great source of knowledge. What could I read to help me decide exactly what Fenton bells would be good to add to a collection? Thanks Reba
OK, you Fenton collectors, what sources of information do you recommend Reba try to find?
This inquiry was originally sent to the ABA’s Internet Coordinator. Responses are opinions of individuals based on their personal research and knowledge.
February 6, 2009 at 8:07 pm #13525
Wow, big topic for small bells!
Ok, I’ll take a stab at this! But it will be more “general” than specific, so I won’t be saying “buy this one…”
Hopefully this will also form a framework for other additional answers from our other great members!
My 10 Rules:
1. Buy what you like.
– Even if you are going to resell it later, you still have to look at it until then!
– If you like it, chances are someone else will too.
– YOU have to enjoy them.
2. In any category, Low Issue Amounts always command higher prices
– they are harder to find!
– For example: a bell from your visit to a famous lighthouse probably won’t ever be worth more than one produced in a limited edition.
– exceptions are for ones that are extremely old so that they are not being produced anymore and most of the ones that were available are probably lost now due to breakage etc.
– so find out which fenton bells are harder to get. Keeping an eye on auctions will give you strong clues as to which is more desirable.
– If you see 20 of one type available and only 2 of another, that’s a clue.
– If you see one typically selling at $10 and another at $100, that’s another clue!
– If you see it at a high end auction house website, that’s a pretty strong clue too!
3. Pick a theme and become knowledgeable in it.
– I picked BRASS bells for example, Fenton seems to be more ceramic and glass in nature.
– Keep records/history – it’s called provenance, and helps greatly with the resale. It’s easier to do this up front!
– as an aside, just for example, I saw two identical old bottles with glass ball stoppers sitting side by side in an antique store. One was priced at $12 the other at $34. Guess which one had a nice card with the history and information about the bottle?
4. Workmanship is key.
– Cut glass beats pressed glass every time!
– Fancier and more fragile designs beat simpler designs.
– Quality ceramics (porcelain) beats common forms hands down.
– Look at the decorations,
– Hand painted beats machine mass produced.
– Hand signed beats machine signed, beats unsigned artwork, usually.
– Quality paints (i.e. gold) beats lesser ones.
– Quality, popular decorations beats less popular ones (for example a nice country scene tends to draw more interest than, say, a simple rock.
5. Famous designers/designs tend to be more popular and therefore acquire more value over time. (Typically the artist has to die first though, sadly to say, before they really take off.)
– Very Talented recognized artists making small runs tend to be next in terms of value. (Although I often find their works just as nice if not better!)
– a sub note here; if you decide to work on a collection like this, you have -in my opinion- a golden opportunity here! Talk to the artist and get a Biography of both themselves and of the item! Preferably in writing from them, it makes for a much more interesting display and much much greater resale values!
– Very well done totally unrecognized artists (usually home artists) can provide excellent bells with a moderate profit margin. Many people, including myself, prefer the hand made to the mass produced! Again get the history!
6. Historical bells
– original bells command the highest value. Typically, for example, a ship’s bell from a known, ie decommissioned, boat is worth quite a bit, particularly if the ship has some recognizable history with it.
– First Run Bells commemorating a historical event, or from parts made as a result of a historical event, can be quite valuable. For example the collapse of a bridge (hopefully nobody was hurt!). Subsequent runs are typically not overly valuable.
– Unknown artist bells of this nature can also be quite valuable, particularly if the cross collecting fields. I have one from a Canadian corvette that was one of the first ones fitted out to carry helicopters as a test. It’s a home made bell, engraved, made from a shell that the ship fired. So it’s got historical interest, trench art interest, military interest, uniqueness interest …
7. Marked bells.
– Bells with embossments commemorating an event.
– engraved after construction tends to be more valuable than ones molded into the bell. They are usually done in low numbers. This is because molds are typically costly to produce and can/are be used for years, decades, and even centuries after wards. The Swiss “1878 SAIGNELEGIER-CHIANTEL FONDEUR ” bell is an excellent example. It is dated 1878 by the mold, but these bells are still being produced by the company that bought the molds even today! You can buy them on line from them, and there are hundreds being sold as ‘antique’, some undoubtedly are , but how can you possibly tell?
8. The Unique.
– a bell that is unique can always find a market it seems! Just look at some of the fascinating ones listed on this site! The last one had a knife sharpener built into it!
9. complete sets of bells are worth more than part sets.
– I am not sure why, I find the hunt to be half the enjoyment, but I guess many people like to have the work done for them.
– for example, IF Fenton has -say- an 8 set ‘cranberry glass’ series, the 8 bells together are worth more than each separately.
10. Undamaged are worth more than damaged.
– Unless the thing is so rare, or the damage is of a historical nature (i.e. the cracked USA liberty bell for example.) typically damage makes it valueless. I try hard to stay away from damaged ones.
I know these rules are general, but if you apply them to the specific category of Fenton, I don’t think you can go far wrong!
February 23, 2009 at 8:05 am #13526rs81956Participant
Thanks for answering my question. Carolyn was right. She stated somebody would have some valuable information. I have printed your reply for reference. This gives me a very good idea what I am looking for and where to start. With all the good information you provided ,I think the most obvious I overlooked. That is to pick the ones I truly enjoy. I know I will love collecting bells. The search is going to be absolutely fun.
April 7, 2009 at 2:15 am #13523
I managed to acquire a few bell books. If you can find a copy of Donna S Baker (I got mine from Chapters.indigo.ca) “more Collectible Bells, Classic to contemporary” she mentions and shows a few of the Fenton bells and gives a brief history of them! That might help you too!
April 7, 2009 at 5:02 am #13524Carolyn WhitlockParticipant
Glass Bells by A. A. Trinidad, Jr.and Collectible Glass Bells of the World by A. A. Trinidad, Jr. include pictures of many Fenton Bells. Five years ago, when I visited the Fenton Art Glass Museum at the factory in West Virginia, I was impressed to see how many references to Al Trinidad there were there. These two books are occasionally listed on ebay. They can also be bought on amazon.com and alibris.com. There are also several books in the Schiffer Books for Collectors series about Fenton Art Glass.
April 28, 2009 at 11:31 pm #13527
If you are still looking for Fenton bells.
Check e-bay, ie item (deleted by admin)
She has a bunch for sale.
Sorry, Garry, but we don’t allow advertising for items for sale on online and other auctions. I realize that you are not the seller. The ABA does not get involved with promoting items for sale except for allowing one or two bells put in our “Bells for Sale” section of the “Bell Talk” Forum by forum members. Thanks for your understanding.
May 4, 2009 at 12:16 pm #13528
Sorry about that. Was just trying to get a new member started in their collection.
Won’t happen again.
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