Welcome to the ABA! Bell Talk Forums Small Bells Need opinions on unmarked bell – possible horsecar bell?

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    • #12162

      [attachment=3:10rp9l65]Bell 4 (Small).jpg[/attachment:10rp9l65]I bought this bell in a Boulder City, NV antique mall. The seller had no information on its origin, age or use. I would appreciate receiving information from anyone concerning its ID. My guess is, based on what little information I have been able to find, that it may be an unmarked horsecar trolly bell, but ???

      3” H (to bottom of top tab) X 4 1/4” W (inside diameter of bottom opening)
      Top Tab: ¾”H x 1” W (base) X 7/8” W (top); 3/8” thick at base / ¼” thick at top
      STRAP: 5/8” W old hard-dried leather; 6 adjustment holes; 7/8” W buckle opening
      CLAPPER: 2” X 2” cast iron cross

      Thanks for any help,
      Jim Hutton
      Henderson, NV

    • #17232

      Hi Wingshot!

      I’ll give you what I have found about bells like this. I am still researching the type though.

      What you have is called an “open Mouth” or “Liberty” style bell. These were originally used on animals (Larger ones for Larger beasts of course!) but larger sizes were less commonly used. The straps normally went around the neck.

      Here is a neat website on it: http://www.classicbells.com/info/Open.htm

      It appears that many were adapted to carriages, sled and sleighs ( the open mouth design doesn’t tend to hold packed snow as much as the corotals, aka jinglebells, do) and early mechanical modes of transportation; fire carts etc., mining carts sometimes had them and so on. The strap form of hanging lent this style to quite a number of uses. I have seen photos of larger ones in mine tunnels for signalling purposes and also hung in store warehouses as examples.

      Trolly bells of this style, from the photos I have been able to find, were typically mounted on the TOP of the trolly and out in the weather. (Cup style bells were hung inside). All the photos I have seen show these bells in a solid mount (not a strap which would tend to rot if left out in the elements) using a PIN (bolt) through the top, and were usually a bit larger than this one. They are normally pictured on a swivel mount and rung by the driver on the inside. I wouldn’t rule it out, it could be from a horse drawn version and hanging from the horse for example, but I suspect it’s not a trolly bell.

      Hopefully others will comment on it and be able to supply further details, confirming [or not] my findings to date.


    • #17231

      Hi Garry,
      Thanks for your reply and input. Whether for horse drawn trolly use or not, I have imagined it was designed for draft animal collar or draw shaft mounting. Do you think shaft mounting would be more likely due to the number of buckle adjustment holes in the strap (i.e. to fit various diameter shafts)? But, since the smallest adjustment hole in the strap would create a loop only about 1/2″ wide, maybe it was designed to be mounted either way.


    • #17233

      That would be my take on it. It’s hard to tell if the strap is original or not, when broken they would tend to be replaced, so it’s hard to tell what it was originally meant for. The replacement strap may be scavenged, and have holes already in it that were now never intended to be used for example. But I suspect you are correct, that it was being used on a cart or some such possibly on a railing.

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