Is my bell silver?
June 25, 2015 at 11:01 pm #12582GarryParticipant
I came across an interesting tidbit I thought I would share. One of the questions often asked is; “is this a real silver bell?” or “how can I tell if this is a silver bell?” (actually any object, not just bells).
If it is stamped with silver marks, it is obvious. Many books etc carry the marks for you to find what they mean.
If it is stamped ‘sterling’ or “plate” then again your answer is obvious.
But what if no marks can be found?
You can look at the tarnish and guess, or you can buy chemicals to test (causing damage) but I wanted an easier way.
I recently purchased a sliver object and this topic came up again. I believed it to be of ‘coin silver’ (made from old silver dollars re-purposed) so it had no marks.
The following test worked, it’s obviously NOT definitive – but it probably will eliminate the non-silver items!
1) allow the object to rest until room temperature.
2) take a small piece of ICE (yep, the frozen water type) – not too small! – and put it on the ‘silver’
3) if it melts like it’s on a hot stove, you probably have silver. If it melts slowly like it’s sitting on the counter, it’s probably NOT silver.
apparently the electrical potential of silver causes this phenomena.
Remember it’s not definitive – for example if the silver has been coated with a none tarnish coating, it likely will not react the same way.
Just an interesting tidbit for you!
July 14, 2015 at 2:29 pm #18003ode2JLAbellerParticipant
Awesome tip! Thanks! 😀
August 4, 2015 at 4:14 am #18004nightflier51Participant
Silver was not a metal for a ringing bell. They use to toss small tokens of silver in the furnace by request but pure silver is kinda soft and does not resonate good. Plated silver over brass or bronze would not effect the tone but solid silver would be dull.
August 5, 2015 at 1:33 am #18005GarryParticipant
Quite true, if you are talking pure metals, but this is pretty much true for most bells, you really need an alloy. Copper and Tin each make relatively poor bells, put them together and get bronze, a pretty good ringer! It’s because the different metals together give a better resonance as explained in; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bellfounding
Most “silver” bells are either not silver or a sheath. A good silver coating (plating), usually Stirling silver, should react the same way as described, (if not tarnish protected), while the “nickle silver” alternative would react like – well, Nickel! But technically, you are correct, a pure silver bell makes a relatively poor ringer and is unlikely to exist as anything other than a decorative object!
If you wish to follow up, there are some interesting sites out there on this alloy requirement, such as:
http://www.historyofbells.com/bell-making/bell-metal/ (also has a nice section on bell history!)
Thanks for pointing this out, Nightflier!
[Trivia break-in alert!!!! As a bit of humorous aside, Did you know that the song “Silver Bells” originally had a different name until the double meaning was pointed out? http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2012/12/the-song-silver-bells-was-originally-called-tinkle-bell/ ]
“May your life bell resonate clearly for a long time!”
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