Welcome to the ABA! Bell Talk Forums Small Bells Looking for information on my elephant bells

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    • #10408

      I bought 3 elephant bells from a charity shop. They all have stands and two are marked with india 156f written in dots. The other one has no marking from what I can see. I cant upload from my laptop at the moment but there are some clear pics on my twitter feed. https://twitter.com/missyellll/media

    • #12663

      Hey “missyell”!
      Welcome to our forum!

      You can do a search on this site for ‘elephant bell’ to see what we have here on them already. Basically these bell types were designed for the ‘top’ to fit through the strap going around the animal’s belly like a shirt button (button top side in to the belly of course! 😉 ) through the shirt, so that the ‘bell’ would hang free underneath. Most of them were actually a ‘claw’ type base form, although this was also a style used.

      While they were used as animal bells, quite a number of them were simply ‘re purposed’ as shop keeper desk type bells, that they used instead of the ‘tap’ bells (desk bells you and I likely are familiar with) for people to ring when they wanted the shop keeper’s attention.

      When you ring yours, does it sound like there are ‘stones’ rattling around (one or more?) inside or does it sound/feel like there is a clapper of some sort swinging back and forth? I suspect you have loose stones from the design I see, otherwise they would have probably not had the sealed base like that. It’s looks sort of like a cross between a regular elephant bell and a crotal type bell. And yes, they used pebbles as a cheaper clapper back then because it was cheaper! (Later they used bits of the metal itself (scraps) because it made a more metallic ring.)

      The fact that it is punched “India” indicates that this is most likely an export bell for the tourist industry. That is called a ‘back stamp’. In the 1860’s the US Tariff Act required the country of origin to be marked on the objects being imported (so that buyer’s would know if it was a local product or not). In 1912 they changed the ruling to make things clearer by having them add the words “Made in” to the back stamp. This suggests your bell is was made between 1860’s ish and 1912. (The dates were similar for Britain, by the way, although they were initially mostly interested in identifying Germany products.)

      This is not a hard and fast rule though, some people/countries followed these rules others didn’t, so other indicators of age need to be found too. For example, designs change over the years, look for similar designs from known aged products. The sealed base with pebbles indicates an older design, if that’s what it is. Wear is an important indicator, look for wear points. If it was a desk bell, you would see wear on the base where it sat between use and the sides of the ‘handle’ where people grasped it to ring. If it was a working animal bell, then the top would show wear as it rubbed against the skin. That kind of thing.

      From what I can see (and the photos were small on my computer) it looks like you likely have early export bells for the tourist trade (I am guessing 1900’s) with a pretty enamel coloring on the skirt.

      Hope this helps and perhaps others from this site might have more insight as I personally don’t have a lot of experience with this bell type.


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