Welcome to the ABA! Bell Talk Forums Repair, Restoration, Parts, Cleaning ID materials, origin and repair for Grandma's small bell

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    • #25151

      Your help is requested for ID-ing what genre of small bell this is, its materials, origin and where to find a replacement clapper. My guess is it’s a servant call bell but I’ll be pleased to learn that it’s actually something else.

      It’s 2-3/8″ (6.25 cm) high, about 2″ wide (5 cm)

      In gratitude for any assistance…

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    • #25159

      I’ve learned that the small bell’s origin is India, and its genre is “claw bell.” It seems to often be called an elephant claw bell because working pachyderms are adorned with necklaces of these. I suppose they warn whomever is up the forest or village path, to get out of the way and avoid being trampled.

    • #25164

      Correct, it is a claw bell (also called an elephant bell by some) from India. The original use was to have the top ‘button’ style hanger go through a ‘button hole’ in the leather strap around the animal. The button part would then be against the skin of the animal and the bell would hang facing out. They would have a multitude of these so as to warn people when these big animals were moving around. Sort of like the buzzers on heavy equipment.

      If the animal was being used ‘formally’ – as in, in a parade – the bells would be of a very fancy engraved or etched nature, often with enameling (also the straps would be decorated!).

      Other uses include as a shop bell, either hanging from a strap over to door to be hit as the door swings, or as a desk bell. Higher end ‘desk bell’ forms had a brass cup built for them to sit in between uses.

      Closed forms of these bells had either a small hard rock/pebble inserted into them or a small chunk of metal (usually cut from the metal left overs of the bell pour, and not a formal clapper. A small pebble can be obtained from any gravel road – they weren’t particularly special – or a small chunk of brass cut from some other scrap metal, such as the head of a brass bolt/screw from the hardware store. (Buy it first, of course! 😉 This was inserted between the tines which were gently spread apart.

      Open forms (those having tines that do not meet in the ‘center’ at the bottom) did have a small brass clapper within -hung from a formed loop inside. These appear to be a later variation and you should be able to pick up a brass S hook from your local hardware store the correct size. Use the smallest diameter metal ones you can get. Attach a small piece of metal, preferably brass also, to the other part of the S hook and use pliers to crimp it in. A small brass bolt cut to size would work, for example. Alternatively you could probably find a cheap brass bell of about the correct size and recover the clapper from it.

      I give both ideas as you don’t say/show enough of the inside to definitively tell which it is. I suspect it’s the hanging clapper though, from what I see of the images.

      Try and used the same type of metal, both for the ‘ringing’ value and because different kinds of metals can react together over time.

      A google image search for “elephant bell” or “claw bell” will show a plethora of these, along with images of how the clappers attach and ‘cup and claw’ format I mentioned earlier, as well as others.

      Hope that helps! Let us know how you do!

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