Welcome to the ABA! Bell Talk Forums Large Bells Please help me identify this bell

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    • #10594
      galt68
      Participant

      Hi I recently purchased this bell at an auction. The actual bell is 12 inches high and has a diameter of 10.5 inches at the base. it has “A. M. 1945” on it and appears to be made of brass. It also has what appears to be a mitered hat decorated with fleur de lis and other ornamentation. I would appreciate any ideas on the history and symbolism of this bell. It is in great shape and apparently was not used outdoors at least recently. Thanks John Saccenti. Galt68@yahoo.com.

    • #13115
      cannonmn
      Participant

      I owned one identical to it, maybe 20 years ago, and must have sold it off long ago. I never did figure out its origin, but didn’t try too hard either. ?The secret is in the crown. The crown is very distinctive and if it is real, it is the crown of one monarchy only, if you can find a reference on crowns. It is probably a ship’s bell, if it is real.

      If it is an authentic ship’s bell, it will be bronze not brass. If you want some opinions on its authenticity, post some good pictures of the underside showing the clapper and how it is hung. That’s the area where fakers take shortcuts that can be revealing.

    • #13116
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Other answers I’ve received from bell friends:

      1. That bell is from England. It is an Air Ministry bell and was used in WWII. It is not a ship’s bell. – Marie

      2. i am sure that this bell is british and “am” stands for air ministry. i think the bell had somethign to do with air raid warnings during ww2 in the uk. i have a hand held bell with the same symbol. how much did you pay for it at the auction? just curious. – steve

      3. A similar bell is pictured in Dorothy Malone Anthony’s book “Bell Treasures” on plate7 which I own. – Sheryl

      Dorothy Anthony says, “Bronze stand and very heavy bell with deep wear ring from clapper. Decor is a crown and A.M. 1942. Could this be a ship’s bell? Base 14 1/2″ x 16″, bell 11″ x 10 3/4″ PC” Dorothy’s bell is mounted differently from John’s.

      Carolyn

    • #13117
      galt68
      Participant

      Thank you all for your help. It looks like the most reasonable explanantion is that it is from the Air Ministry. I came across a reference to a bell being rung at air stations in Britain when fighters returned to the base. Perhaps that may be another use for these bells. I wonder why they were dated in various years? Any more information on the history of this bell would be appreciated.
      For the individual who asked how much I paid for the bell it came to about 465 dollars with tax and auction fee at a local auction in New Jersey USA. I had no idea what it is worth. I was just fascinated by it.
      I have no idea about its value other than in the recently found reference in the internet to the bell used to announce the return of fighter planes to base. In that description the bell was etimated to be worth between 300 and 600 pounds. In the photo of that bell I could not find any writing on the bell. However it was the same size apparently.

    • #13118
      cannonmn
      Participant

      “Air Ministry” sounds like a possible explanation, however I’m confused as to why the Air Ministry would have used a non-British crown in their logo, and especially the Fleur-de-Lis, which is typically a French symbol. Can the person who posted “Air Ministry” give a source for that info? It would help me feel better about that interpretation.

      I’m also a bit conflicted about how the UK would have diverted bronze into the manufacture of fairly unimportant bells in 1945, when only really vital weapons components were being made of bronze. Even in the US, pennies had been made out of steel due to shortage of copper.

    • #13119
      Peter Hyde
      Member

      This is a list from an auction website. It includes some relevant examples of similar bells:

      http://www.oldnautibits.com/search/search_results.php?search_string=air+ministry+bell

      Interesting!

    • #13120
      Peter Hyde
      Member
    • #13121
      cannonmn
      Participant

      So Peter, you are in the UK, maybe you can tell me the origin of the strange peaked crown above the “A.M.” on those bells. It is nothing like the British Royal crowns, nor any of the heraldic crowns associated with England, that I’m familiar with (Baron, Viscount, Count, Prince…).

      Where exactly did the crown shown on that bell originate?

      I’ve done some research on crowns since various types appear on cannons I have, but I’ve never run across that one, except on the similar bell I had.

    • #13122
      Peter Hyde
      Member

      I have absolutely no idea. I assumed it was a crown appropriate to the British Monarchy.

      Regards

    • #13123
      Carolyn Whitlock
      Participant

      Peter,

      Go back and enlarge the picture of galt68’s bell. You’ll see there is residue of red (paint, presumably) in the crown and date. I wonder if it was a common thing for these bells to have been painted red.

    • #13124
      cannonmn
      Participant

      I’ve seen some wide-cut engraving on bells filled with colored enamel, usually black. But red would certainly make sense as well. The enamel highlights the engraved design of course.

    • #13125
      cannonmn
      Participant

      Thanks Peter. When I was in U.S. Navy training class long ago, can’t even remember the subject, the instructor told us what he thought of the word “assume” and wrote it this way: ass-u-me

      I will spare you the explanation but I think your imagination can reconstruct it.

      Not intented to criticize you, but just relate a funny story.

    • #13126
      Peter Hyde
      Member

      After looking at some websites about the British Monarchy I am quite sure that the symbol on the bell is simply intended to represent the British Crown.

      Thought you might like to see the real thing:

      Glad I’m not wearing it today. Very hot here in the Forest.

      Regards

    • #13127
      cannonmn
      Participant

      Thanks Peter, I can see that now. The peaked outline I guess is what threw me off, but I see the two leafy things and the finial represented.

      Sorry it is hot in the Forest. It is a bit cooler than usual here in Washington DC, so we’ll be casting some hot metal into cannon projectiles today.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y36zlWQJU9Y

    • #13128
      Peter Hyde
      Member

      Cannonmn

      Because you made a comment about my sanctus bell I somehow thought your username put you among the Roman Catholic clergy. Having looked at your website I now know better. Must stop making assumptions.

      Regards

    • #13129
      cannonmn
      Participant

      Certainly Peter. It is all in the details. Canonmn would be a good name for a Vatican official. I use Cannonmn.

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