Need info on Bell in Woman’s Shape Japan
August 28, 2013 at 11:45 pm #12315
I am brand new to this forum–let me know any feedback you have on my post. 🙂 I got this bell kind of by accident in a box from an estate auction and it’s very pretty and ornate. The label says “Tarnish Resistant Clean with soft damp cloth No Silver Polish Japan”. It is a woman’s figure, Victorian? Edwardian? She is about 6 1/4 inches tall. And I am wondering:
Was it a Service Desk Bell and maybe how old?
What is she holding up?
What is it worth?
September 4, 2013 at 1:38 pm #17622GarryParticipant
You have a very interesting bell that looks to be based upon the ‘wedding cup bell’ (which is not really a bell at all but two cups, the skirt of the lady being one and a second one on a pivot being held in the upright arms. The idea is for bride and groom to drink the toast from the cups at the same time without spilling for good luck). Yours has a handle in place of the second cup and is an actual bell. The first of that kind that I personally have seen.
The label is also interesting. It gives you two clues:
1) it just says “Japan” according to your description. In 1860 the USA Tariff act required the country of origin to be added to all imports for taxation purposes. Items made for home country consumption usually did not have these back stamps. In 1912 the words “Made in” were required to be added to indicate not only the country of origin, but where most of the manufacturing also took place (job protectionism). After WWII (1945 to 1952) the words “made in occupied Japan” were required. Lately these rules have not been well inforced (since the 1980’s or so). So all this would indicate an early bell BUT until 1921 the word for “Japan” was “Nippon” (closest English rendition of Japanese word for “land of rising sun”). So the date has to be after 1921, not 1860-1912!
so this brings us to label point 2:
2) ‘tarnish resistant. clean with damp cloth no silver polish’. This indicates that the bell has either been clear coated (not likely) or is Argentium. Argentium is a modern sterling silver alloy which modifies the traditional silver plate alloy by replacing some of the copper with the metalloid germanium. This process was invented in 1990. Polishing with standard silver polish would tend to chemically react to remove the coating, so it is advised on the label not to do it. Because it is still mostly silver, the Argentium bells can also still be called “silver plated”.
So we now look at the condition, which appears to be pretty sharp in it’s design and you don’t mention any worn areas. Again indicating a bell that has not seen a lot of polishing or use. You don’t show the inside where the clapper is, that can give further clues. Nor do you indicate how heavy it is, which could further corroborate the silver plating vs pure silver bell. If you hold a magnet to it, does it stick? (steel vs brass base).
This all leads to the strong suggestion you have a hand bell, based up on the wedding cup bell style, made in Japan, using the Argentium silver plating method, in the late 1990’s to now. She is holding up a traditional organic generic design with finger holes to convert the original design into a hand bell. We can’t really discuss values on this site (there are simply too many variables in condition, manufacture, etc. so any reasonable estimate would have a very very large fudge factor) but you should be able to find examples of this bell for sale today. Likely meant to be a decorative table bell.
Although this is a modern bell, it is still a very nice example! I hope you enjoy it, I would!
September 4, 2013 at 8:32 pm #17623
Wow, Garry, you are incredibly thorough and incredibly kind to have answered. I do love this bell, it’s just really neat. Doesn’t stick to a magnet at all and weighs 8-9 ounces so definitely not pure silver. Inside is very shiny silver color. It’s okay about the value–I just want to display her with other bells I have. I was more concerned with that always-in-the-back-of-your-mind-with-an-unknown-piece–“Bell Found Worth 2.5 Million Dollars by Woman From Iowa.” Smile. You’re the best and you deserve a huge high five! Thank you!
September 6, 2013 at 4:11 pm #17624GarryParticipant
Chuckle, I am still looking for my 2.5 million dollar bell! Sorry but your’s is not it.
You are most welcome!
an idea for you. I don’t know if you collect bells or if this is a one of, but with a handle like that, if the clapper is well attached, and if it sounds nice when rung… I would be sorely tempted to get a nice matching angle bracket from the local hardware store and hang it loosely using some matching ribbon or black leather ties. A small light nylon cord tied gently to the clapper at one end and dangling underneath with a small, light, diamond shaped cut piece of matching silver or light black plastic to act as a sail would likely make a neat wind chime. And that kind of mounting shouldn’t damage the bell.
Just a thought.
September 6, 2013 at 5:54 pm #17625
That is such a cool idea! I really appreciate that! Very creative. 🙂 Most of mine are porcelain and just a few metal and I’m always looking for new ideas to display and use. The clapper is pristine and firmly in place and it does sound lovely.
Thanks again so much, I didn’t think anyone was going to even answer and then you went beyond my wildest dreams! 🙂
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