How can you tell the age of a bell
April 7, 2013 at 2:04 am #12230
I have a prayer bell with soldiers carrying heads. It does not look machine made and the only marking I can find is at the top of the bell at the base of the handle. It reads, “Angland”. The handle is a U loop. The ringer is a ball. Can’t tell if it is bronze or brass. Can anyone help me?
April 8, 2013 at 3:19 pm #17401RonaKesselmanParticipant
Welcome to the Bell Talk discussion board! To help in identifying your bell we are going to need more information as well as some good photos. Please supply the following information:
• Height and weight of the bell
• Diameter of the bottom of the skirt
• Writing or engraving on the bell
• Material from which the bell was made
• History about the bell that you may have
• Photo of the outside of the bell
• Photo of the inside of the bell
This discussion board is moderated by an all-volunteer group of hobby bell collectors and it may take time for our members to chime in with responses.
Again, welcome to the Bell Talk Forum!
April 8, 2013 at 8:33 pm #17402halanbParticipant
The “carrying heads” and loop handle sounds like a 3″ brass sand-cast bell made by Pearson Page, Birmingham, England, in a period roughly from 1930 – 1960. Bells made by them after WW2 have a gumdrop shaped clapper that reads “PEERAGE – MADE IN ENGLAND”. Earlier bells probably had a ball clapper. The bell shown below has no markings, other than the clapper inscription. The “Angland” (England?) mark may mean that it was meant for export.
April 8, 2013 at 11:08 pm #17403GarryParticipant
Yes, we definitely need the data for this one!
Hard to tell from the description.
Is the “Angland” stamped or cast into the bell? That word is typically a personal last name in the English language, basically meaning “strong”.
Back Stamps (England or Made in England) were placed to differentiate where things were made due to imports and exports.
England was one of the first back stamps and was added to British produced materials back in the late 1800’s early 1900’s as I recall, as an attempt to get people to buy British. They had a problem because most folks back then were buying German products. The politico’s decided that this was because the people could not figure out which were German and which were English, so they required the England back stamp on English goods. Amusingly this apparently backfired on them, people knew the German products were of higher quality so it simply made it easier for them to buy German!
Later Back stamping became more common as the “new world” market opened up and the USA required imported items to have the country of origin on them. So if a manufacturer was making items that could also go there, they simply marked them all with the country name back stamp rather than doing separate runs. During the depression time, the USA had a ‘let’s keep the jobs in America” push on, so they modified the Tariff act to add “made in” to the backstamp to show where the majority of the manufacturing occurred rather than just the last country it touched before arrival.
(If you search the site here, I think I had a mostly complete timeline for these types of backstamps posted earlier.)
Also the manufactures put their own personal back stamps on, the best of which known are the hallmarks for silver telling who made it, where, and when.
I did a quick search for Angland, and only pulled up last names. I notice you said it’s on the crown of the bell under the handle. That typically is where descriptors of the bell (i.e. what it’s about/from such as the “HMS Victory” bell) , or owner names, or things of that nature. Country names I mostly find inside the bell, not on top, unless it’s a souvenir type bell. So that again suggests what you have is possibly a personalized bell or occasion marking bell of some kind. Hard to tell and seeing a photo might help.
April 9, 2013 at 2:54 am #17404
OK, here is the info you asked for and I attached pics.
• Height and weight of the bell (The bell is “4” high and weight is about 1 pound)
• Diameter of the bottom of the skirt (The diameter of the bottom is 3″ across)
• Writing or engraving on the bell (See picture, I think it says “Angland” and is located at the base of the handle.)
• Material from which the bell was made (I’m guessing brass because it is more yellow than red)
• History about the bell that you may have (Mom bought it at a yard sale)
• Photo of the outside of the bell (All photos attached)
• Photo of the inside of the bell
April 9, 2013 at 3:06 am #17405
Took a while but I finally figured out how to download the pics.
April 9, 2013 at 3:19 am #17406
Notice,it is very rough on the inside of the bell and the edge of the bell base has slight variations in thickness as it goes around. This is why I thought it might not be machine made.
April 9, 2013 at 8:43 pm #17407GarryParticipant
You are correct, it’s not machined, it’s a cast bell.
This usually is done with a sand mold and gives the rough inside and unevenness you see.
Have you tried a rubbing on the text on top? Tissue paper over it and a soft pencil lead rubbed on the tissue to see if it brings up any better markings. (you rub the tissue into the markings with the soft lead pencil so that the marks are all on the tissue of course!)
It looks like brass to me, but I would try a strong magnet on it too, because some of the stains inside looked like it might be rust. I doubt it but it’s easy to test, so why not? Did the magnet stick?
The bell does have the overall appearance of age. Do you have any further history of how /when it was obtained?
Three things worry me about it though:
1) the clapper and hanger inside look modern. Typically bells of this type, with serious age on them, have a very rough clapper – typically a left over chunk or a metal elongated tube hooked directly on the staple on the top inside of the bell. Well formed clappers on wire loops are mid 1900’s onwards mostly.
2) There is no sign of wear on the inside on either the sides of the bell or the clapper, that I can see. Constantly rubbing the clapper against the rough inner surface should have some impact! The clapper would show scratches and wear and the inside should have a ring of polished or knocked down smoothness where the clapper hits. – either the bell was virtually unused or it’s relatively new.
3) The outside relief is very ‘worn’ looking but the bell does not show signs of being polished. Look at the handle for instance, it still has sharp edges.
– Bells like this are many times faked. They do it by making a mold of the original bell then doing the pour of metal into that mold. Just like any duplicate, the copy is less sharp/focused or fuzzier than the original (which was hand carved out in the case of the bells). The sand etc. simply does not pack in to the relief as well, leaving a poorer image. I don’t see any polishing marks but I do see what appears to be grinding marks on the bottom rim of the bell, also an indication that this might be a copy.
Hopefully someone else might be able to shine more light on this!
April 10, 2013 at 2:25 am #17408
Thanks, Gary. I tried the magnet and it doesn’t stick. It definitely says, Angland and it looks like there is oxidation inside the bell. I also think that the handle was cast separately because I can just make out lines where the handle was wedged into the top of the bell’s “body”. I didn’t know if I should clean it or not. It has a sentimental value to me because my mom gave it to me. I don’t think she spent more than $5 for it. I was just curious in how old it might be.
April 10, 2013 at 10:14 pm #17409Carolyn WhitlockParticipant
Does your bell compare in looks to the bell at viewtopic.php?f=6&t=1296&p=3325&hilit=Sennacherib%27s+Army+bell#p3325?
April 10, 2013 at 11:43 pm #17410
Yes, it is depicting that story on the bell.
April 11, 2013 at 5:26 am #17411Carolyn WhitlockParticipant
Well, you now know what you have. I’m sorry I can’t tell you the age of your bell.
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