New London brass bell
July 31, 2012 at 7:16 pm #11957
I just found this bell July 2012, while metal detecting in Conn. in 15-20 feet of water on Long Island sound. I’m sure its from a boat , or was at least on a boat when it was lost. In the early 1900’s many small sailboats and power boats were lost in this bay near New London Ct. It appears to be brass or bronze and has no rust. There are two holes drilled in the bell that look like a holder for a clapper could be attached(there is no clapper). I’m not sure if the holes are tapped for screws. It is 3″ high and 2 7/8″ wide at the bottom and weighs no more than a half pound. I am thrilled to be the one to have rescued the bell, it’s the first one Iv found and the highlight for any of us that detect underwater. Even better, on the second dive in the same bay I found another bell. A classic boat bell about 8-9″ at the bottom. I’m sure its old as well because of the history of the area and lack of moored boats in the last 50 plus years. There are no markings on the bell shown above. I appreciate any help in identifying this bell. Thanks, Mike B
August 5, 2012 at 4:07 am #16759
Do you have a close up of the holes you mention and of the inside?
The square top portion and design of the bell is a classic animal bell. The unit is designed to be hung from a strap around the animal’s neck. Think Donkey or Cow bell. The clapper was likely iron and would have rusted away, but you might see ‘rust’ marks on the inside where it rested against the side if it wasn’t upright on the bottom.
I suppose some enterprising individual might have adapted it for a small boat, but I am rather thinking it, or the animal it was attached to, was being transported over the water where it was lost. Any history of animals being used on barges or such in the area (like a donkey wheel?) or being transported by barges around the area?
Another possibility are animals being transported on larger vessels, either as stock for settlers or as an on board food supply, but I am doubtful that they would bother to bell such animals – where would they wander off to on a ship where they couldn’t be found? That’s what these bells are for – to find lost animals after all! But a working animal which would be taken ashore regularly for food etc. or one being transported by a farmer to another location might well have one.
As you mention, it could be part of a shipment of items being transported by water separately from the animal, but I would have thought that you would be seeing other evidence in the area if it went down with a vessel. Metal from ship fittings for example. Stock for a store would have a multitude of them in the area I would think, nobody would bring in just ‘one’ for stock.
It does appear to be an older style, most of the newer ones now have a hole formed up the middle and the D portion is stapled through it with the hanger for the clapper on the other side. The brass hanger formed as part of the bell and two holes bored in to hang the clapper indicates a very old style, ~1800’s if my memory isn’t fooling me.
Interesting enough, you might be able to tell if it’s Bronze or Brass. Brass is an alloy of copper (60%) and Zinc (40%), while Bronze is copper (80%) and Tin (20%) – roughly!- 😉
What that means, is that if you have a STRONG (i.e. ‘rare earth’) magnet, it will react (stick slightly) to Bronze (the tin part of the alloy) where as it won’t with Brass.
Hope this helps and let us know if you discover anything else!
August 13, 2012 at 2:11 am #16760
Thanks for your reply, No way a picture could show those holes. The best way would be to describe by the picture you see here…Looking at the picture , the space where it looks like a collar would slide through the holes are as far right and left as they can be and still be in that space. The holes go completely through from the inside out.
No rust marks. It was filled with concretion and mud, it took two days to clean it out. I thought until the second day that the clapper might still be in there, that’s how much garbage was jammed in there.
I absolutely agree about the animal bell style but animal bells that I have seen are thinner metal and can be heard from a distance. This bell in your hand looks and feels like a scale model of a large bell and if I ring it the sound is high pitch, the sound does not seem like it would carry enough like a livestock bell should.
If I knew how old it was I might be able to get an idea what the history might be about the area. Off hand I think it should be about 80-100 years old. in that time frame steam ships brought vacationers by steamboat to a long lost pier so they could spend the day. Boats would be moored in this area for the same reason. At one time (20’s-30’s)there was a very bad storm that wrecked a lot of boats and destroyed the pier.
Ill try the magnet trick later. For now I’m packing for another dive in the morning at the same location.
August 13, 2012 at 9:57 pm #16761
I am also still doing research and came across another possibility!
by: Jane Silvernail
“You can spot a horsecar bell first by its size: three to four inches tall, brass, almost always with a solid, cast-iron clapper. There will be a slot or a tab top with a hole for attaching it to harness. Some of them still have their original leather straps.”
The main difference I see from your bell and these (look at photos on the website!) is that they suggest all of them have a name around the bell skirt. Except for that it’s a very very close match!
What do you think?
August 14, 2012 at 9:20 pm #16762
I think you found it ! It took me seconds to find a Railroad site that had pictures of all different bells from horse cars. The site was “RRSTUFF”. If you look at the pictures there is one bell from Ct. that looks as if its been polished. Im sure thats it, there are little indentations on the sides on top, they match mine and the side they show in the picture has extra metal (slag)where the bell meets the holder. Not exact .but mine has slag in the same exact place. And if I see it correctly there is no writing on theirs either.
Thanks, Mike B
August 15, 2012 at 3:30 am #16763
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