Welcome to the ABA! Bell Talk Forums Small Bells Help Identifying

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    • #10898

      I’ve included photos. I’d like to see if anyone has any info on this – it’s use, origin, age and rough value.

      This is a 24 inch by 12 inch thick piece of leather, with 12 bells tied to it. As you can see, some of the bells are more primitive than the others. Some have 2 ridges around them.

      Any info or comments would be most appreciated.

    • #13908

      This is certainly unusual and the bells show considerable wear. The design suggests that this was used like an “apron” draped in front of an animal similar to a “Martingale” that draped between the front legs of a horse from the bridal or collar. The primitive attachments suggest that this may not be American and could have been used on a camel or similar animal of Middle Eastern or Asian origin. The cup shaped bells, though, look to be of Western design. This is a beautiful set and has me stumped. Perhaps someone else has information on this set.
      Harry Long, MD

    • #13909

      This is wonderful, and unusual.

      The clappers appear to be hand-forged and the bells may be also, although that’s harder to tell from photos.

      It’s difficult to know if this was intended to be slung from a vehicle (sleigh), a horse/mule, or a person. As hjlong noted, the leather is roughly apron-shaped, which suggests something to be draped on an animal or person, and is hand-cut and stitched. It has the look of something created for a specific purpose or event.

      The shape of the bells is not characteristic of Asian or Middle Eastern bells, so I would suspect something forged at a local blacksmith in Europe or America. In early America, many items were imported from Europe until smithees and foundries could be established. Then gradually the smithees were replaced by more permanent foundries.

      If it was on an animal, it’s hard to say what kind: oxen? buffalo? horses? mules? camels?

      If the cording looks hand-wound (I can’t quite tell from the picture) then perhaps it is Amish.

    • #13907

      Yes, the cording looks hand-wound. Thanks so much.

    • #13910

      The leather is an enigma, actually THREE pieces sewn nicely together with what looks like machine stitching, the edges turned under or bound – then holes punched haphazardly for what looks like a twisted rawhide “twine” holding the beaten-up bells, and the leather itself!

      Wonder if this was “made up” for the horse on something like a tinker’s wagon, or for use in quiet rural snows where one needed bells. Farm folk were known for ingenuity. Having, or having gotten the bells, how better to mount them. Most 19th century rural folk kept a supply of leather for patching harness (my father also repaired our shoes, etc.) and might also re-use something “too good to throw away”. Interesting, too, is the use of what looks like rawhide. It WOULD probably last longer than a fiber rope, even if it got wet now & then.

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