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    • #11024

      I originally was trying to get a great looking “joan of arc” bell, but lost out. I managed to acquire this Napoleon bell however. It’s brass, only holding a magnet at the foot stool where the large eye bolt for the clapper sits.

      5″ tall by 2 3/4″ for the bell.

      No markings that I can find. Clapper appears to be formed as a round eye on a post to the ball in one piece (rather fancy) and is also brass.

      The bell has various battle scenes arrayed around it, and a definite seam where it has been ground down on one side right into the man relief. The statue does not sit square on the bell, but is off to one side.

      Except for the unusually more expensive clapper, I believe this to be a poor copy of an original bell. The only one that I could find in my books had a different scene on the bell itself and the horizontal hand held a scroll. (the other hand on mine has what I would suggest is a scroll – it’s not well formed – again suggesting a copy of some sort to me.)

      If I am correct, I am wondering if anyone knows what the original set would look like? How would one tell it from contemporary copies?


    • #14297

      Garry, I’ve been told that the bell is not Napoleon; it’s Wellington at Wagram. Hope this helps you! – Deb

    • #14298

      Interesting Deb!
      It would make sense, and explain the bell decorations, but I do have some questions. (While some what generally familiar with US history, I am not fully conversant with it as I am not from or in the United States.)

      My understanding is the ‘right hand in shirt’ pose is pretty predominantly Napoleon as he was having medical issues, and the half moon hat is the french style. The US did have a similar style but, and I am on shaky ground here, it was more of a crushed cowboy hat outline that was worn with the narrow section running front to back rather than side to side as the French did.

      I believe most figural bells like this are based upon some recognizable famous pose by the individual, usually a painting. I have been searching for Wellington poses and have been unable to find one yet that looked like this. A fair bit of him on horses but not standing in this pose. Quite a few of Napoleon in this pose though.

      Could it be a mated design from two different bells? I managed to find another bell similar to this and am working to purchase it so that I can compare them. It is called a Napoleon bell by it’s seller.


    • #14299

      This is a modern souvenir bell. I’ve seen them for sale in gift shops in Brussels and Waterloo, Belgium. It is a figurine of Napoleon and the skirt of the bell commerates his famous battles. This bell is manufactured in a 2 piece mold. Older versions have a heavier bell with the clapper cast into the bell rather than attached by a steel eye bolt. The oldest versions are heavy, cast by lost wax method and have an open filigree skirt and have a bust of Napoleon or Wellington as their handle.
      Harry Long, MD

    • #14300
      Carolyn Whitlock

      Dear Garry,

      I thought you might like to see pictures of my Napoleon bells. Two of them are the same bell but the patina on each is different from the other. Enjoy!


    • #14301

      Harry and Carolyn,

      Thanks again for your excellent replies!

      I agree, I too believe it to be a new bell. There is simply too much sloppy grinding etc. on it – looking too fresh – to make me comfortable saying it has much age at all. They tended to be a bit more professional about the manufacture back then it seems.

      I have purchased another (waiting for it in the mail) that the seller is claiming is over 50 years old. Judging from the photo’s he sent, he is probably correct.

      I’ll be interested in comparing it to the ones you show Carolyn. I think yours are a lot older though, as the details in the hat didn’t show on the photos of the new one I am getting.

      It’s also interesting that only one of your bells shows the right hand in the shirt, the rest are all lefty’s. I wonder if that is significant?


    • #14302

      ABA Member Alan has sent this information:

      If Napoleon is depicted in a bicorne, it will be worn sideways with a cockade or tricolour on his left. The first is a statue outside his tomb at the Invalides. It is probably the basis for these bell figures. The second is J.L. David’s propaganda picture of Napoleon crossing the alps.

      If Wellington is depicted in a bicorne, it will be worn fore and aft, as all other armies did. The first picture is the statue originally in Hyde Park and later moved to Aldershot. The second is from Wikipedia. Wellington’s most distinctive physical characteristic was his bony hooked nose, and many representations make this a distinct feature.

      This inquiry was originally sent to the ABA’s Internet Coordinator. Responses are opinions of individuals based on their personal research and knowledge.

      Wikipedia defines a bicorne as “The bicorne or bicorn (two-cornered) is an archaic form of hat associated with the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Much worn by European and American military and naval officers, it is most readily associated with NapolĂ©on Bonaparte. In practice most generals and staff officers of the Napoleonic period wore bicornes, and it survived as a widely worn full-dress headdress until at least 1914.”

    • #14303

      Hey Allan

      That’s useful information! Where did you get the quote from?


    • #14304

      Here is the other nepoleon bell I just got in.

      It is much heavier, shows a lot more wear to it (polished out mostly!) and is significantly different in size.
      The seller claims it to be older than 50 years, I’d believe it from the wear, it seems to have been very heavily polished over the years.

      Vital Stats:
      6.5″ (3.25″ for bell alone) high
      3.5″ diameter

      Note the bubbles of metal inside the bell itself. I’m not sure if that is from aging (suspect not as not seen on outside) or more probably the casting process.

    • #14305

      Hello Carolyn
      Greeting from Down Under , we have an identical Napoleon Bell as shown in Picture 2 of your Collection . It’s 11 cm in height and the Base is 5 1/2 cm it looks like Bronze , we would appreciate if you could tell us how old it is .
      Best regards
      Peter & Helga Suhnhold

    • #14306

      Welcome, Peter and Helga!

      I hope you will make a habit of looking at and participating on the “Bell Talk” Forum. We have an ABA Chapter in Australia, you know.

      Regarding the age of the Napoleon bell you have like mine, I’m sorry but I have no idea how old it is. I’ll bet someone else does, though.

      Keep in touch!


    • #14307

      I received this today from Cheryl but, unfortunately, can’t help her. Can you?

      Hi Carolyn –

      I am so glad to find someone that knows something about these bells! I have
      the last bell in your showing of pictures. Do you by any chance have any
      information about it? My Mom gave me the one that I have and I would like
      to know it’s history.

      Any information is appreciated.

      Thanks again,

      If you can help, please post a response.

      This inquiry was originally sent to the ABA’s Internet Coordinator. Responses are opinions of individuals based on their personal research and knowledge.

    • #14308

      I have only found a couple more references to them. I do note the markedly different pedestals on each of your bells though.
      Napoleon bells have apparently enjoyed being the most copied identifiable form used on bells.
      Apparently the bells were made around two basic designs; the Eagle emblem that was designed for him to represent “imperial power as once traditionally attributed to the Romans”.(1) The thunderbolt on it symbolizes Jupiter and the power to destroy enemies. The other is relief scenes from the battle of waterloo, and often inscribed around the lip: “L’Empereur Bataille De Waterloo Napoleon A Wagram” (1)

      The oldest form I have found photos of is unlike any of the bells shown, it depicts the head and shoulders of Napoleon above a body wrapped in a large dress like robe that bells out. The robe is the bell.

      The next oldest form seems to be him standing in a ‘great coat’ pointing forward. Again the coat forms the bell.

      Then we seem to move on to the pedestal forms, of which generally (sorry about the pun!) the taller the pedestal the older the bell. The eagle form is the oldest of those forms.

      The earliest Waterloo form shows more of what I envision as a ‘bust’ form and does have quite a high pedestal. Just head and shoulders, no arms etc. It’s the kind of form you would set on the mantle in movies.

      Then we move in to the more generic forms like what I have.

      The rest is from observations of quality – The more ‘touristy’ the bell, the lower the quality of clapper (ie ball on chain rather than molded form) and the more basic the reliefs. The photos of the older bells show a great deal of detail on the bell – pretty much literally every square millimeter has activity on it and quite deeply inset. My bells are very plain compared to them and only have protruding decorations. I suspect the bell in question, which is similar to my second one, is about 1940-1950 in age. The first one I have is probably closer to 1980-1990.

      Referenced quotes from:
      (1) pg 185 The collector’s Book of Bells, by L. Elsinore Springer

      Hope that helps!

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