Help with bell ID
January 8, 2016 at 2:43 pm #24102
I’m hoping someone can help me ID a bell I found in a shop in Tennessee. I have zero background info. The bell has a very unusual shape, which is what attracted me to it. It’s 4” tall and 3.5” wide at the base. The bell is not magnetic at all, however, the clapper appears to be cast iron. Not sure if it’s original as it has been jerry rigged (see pic). There is a seam in the inside. I have literally looked at 1,000s of bell pictures and have yet to see anything like it. It has a beautiful tone that lasts 7-8 seconds when rang and to add more mystery there are the initials NSH on the outside of the bell. Let me know if I can provide any additional details that may help.
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January 16, 2016 at 2:40 pm #24123GarryParticipant
You have a great bell! It appears to be a turned bell (from what I can see inside – those are typical lathe marks) and yes, the clapper is attached like that normally. (although the bale wire attaching it looks like it’s a replacement, or the bell is a ‘newer’ vintage item) It’s usually an animal bell for a mid to large size beast (cow size).
I believe it to be vintage (as opposed to antique) because of the fact it looks like it’s machined rather than strictly a cast piece. (Post industrial then.) It’s got a good patina so not likely less than at least 25 years I’d think. (unless someone is deliberately faking it!) The different ‘wire’ bale attaching the clapper looks like a newer metal so either a replacement or a newer bell (relatively speaking). It’s not unusual for the clapper to be of a different metal than the bell itself. It gives a different ring tone, can be a stronger metal to withstand the banging around, it’s hidden so can be a cheaper metal, that kind of thing. Again, from what I can see, the ‘decoration’ of the clapper appears to be from India.
The open mouthed bells of this design would be found in drier countries (mud and snow would get inside and silence it), so you are typically finding these in places like India. I would suggest researching bells from there to see if you can find a match.
The NSH stamp is going to require additional research, but given where you found it I would start with the most likely:
A “National Society for Histotechnology” souvenir bell from an early symposium.
Try contacting their history dept to see if they ever issued such a thing. India is a hub of brass manufacturing, particularly of bells, so it’s likely this group (or which ever) ordered this style of bell from there as a promotional item.
Let us know if you find anything on it!
January 20, 2016 at 4:13 pm #24124
Thanks so much Garry!
Will let you know what I find.
April 12, 2016 at 10:44 pm #24504freedoParticipant
The bell is from Afghanistan, probably over a hundred years old. I got one in 1979 that had been Museum certified to be over a hundred (not that they are always right). The engraving is quite worn so the bell has been around for a while.
- This reply was modified 4 years, 5 months ago by freedo.
April 13, 2016 at 2:05 pm #24506
Thank you freedo! I’m wondering why a bell made in Afghanistan would have English letters engraved it? Would you happen to know? Can you add a pic of your bell, please? Thanks again!
April 13, 2016 at 3:08 pm #24507freedoParticipant
Great Britain had some misadventure in Afghanistan, I think in the late 18th century. It was probably someone’s souvenir. It could have been engraved at any time but looking at the wear, it appears the engraving is quite old also. When I get a chance I will try to post a picture of my bell.
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