Welcome to the ABA! Bell Talk Forums Small Bells Old Florentine Bell by Gorham

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    • #11094

      Two similar inquiries have come in recently about Gorham’s Old Florentine Bell.

      Sandra in Baton Rouge asks:

      I recently acquired an elaborately engraved hand bell with the words “Old Florentine Bell” hand-engraved into the inside of the bell. The handle, also carved with great detail, is made of what appears to be ivory. I noticed the picture on your homepage, but was unable to determine exact specifics about it. I was wondering, could you please tell me something about it, specifically its value and rarity?


      Bill in Bradenton says:

      In my mother’s estate there is an Old Florentine Bell by Gorham Co. just like the one on your “Chapters” page. Any idea of how I can find the value of it? Thanks Bill


      If you can help, please post a response.

      These inquiries were originally sent to the ABA’s Internet Coordinator. Responses are opinions of individuals based on their personal research and knowledge.

    • #14559

      Al Loeffler, Chairman of the Florida Chapter of the American Bell Association responds:

      For the Jan-Feb 1995 issue of The Bell Tower, I wrote an article titled “Old Florentine and Its Look-Alikes: A Study,” which tells much about the bell. Perhaps a copy of that issue is still available.

      A reprint of the article titled Old Florentine and Its Look-Alikes: A Study, written by ABA member Al Loeffler, is available for the cost of copying and mailing. This article (which includes eighteen high-quality pictures) appeared in ABA’s official publication, The Bell Tower, as a supplement to the January-February 1995 issue and is ten pages long. To order a copy, please contact Leonard Hill, ABA Historian, 1929 Radford Avenue, Claremont, CA 91711. Leonard’s email address is Bellahill@msn.com.

    • #14557

      At the risk of being censured for blatant Plagiarism 8) I’d like to refer to page 132 of Elsinore Springer’s book “The Collector’s book of Bells”1972 edition.

      American Silversmith Jegbez Gorham started producing bells in 1818, one of the favorites being the “old Florentine” masterpiece.

      Elsinore quotes a letter “from the present day Gorham officials” of the time:

      “… Concerning a bell marked: “old Florentine 042 Gorham” or records show this is a sliverplated bell, the base metal being bronze, which was a reproduction of an old Florentine bell originally made of bronze. These were first made by us in 1884 and were continued in production until 1916. Our records indicate that they were very popular around 1900.” They go on to say they can’t tell how many were reproduced but that the length of the run indicates a ‘goodly number’ were made.

      Of particular interest to you may be the final paragraph of the letter:

      “Our records also indicate that many of these were made with an ivory handle … with the rest of the parts made in Gorham silverplate or it may have a sliver plated handle on it.”

      The photo shows a strong lozenge type ivory handle with a metal “crown” wrapped around it just above the hip of the bell. It doesn’t touch the bell though, there is a small gap of ivory between it and the bell. The photo is B&W so I can’t tell, but the crown is likely silver too. You didn’t mention that detail, but perhaps it’s there.

      Hope that helps!

    • #14558

      Old Florentine Bell by Gorham

      This is a (tarnished) silver bell with an ivory handle.

    • #14556

      That’s pretty close to the bell in the book.

      I see the ‘crown’ on yours touches the bell and that there appears to be wear or light carving on the handle but that’s the only differences I see from that in my book.


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