March 19, 2009 at 1:32 am #11089GarryParticipant
Here is an interesting bell I just obtained.
What I am told, is that it is from a collection being broken up (by the collector’s family). It is supposed to be over 75 years old and a pursor’s bell.
It came with a loose brass skeleton key with a 3 digit number on one side and the words:
Brassy aspect but holds a magnet.
7 1/4 in tall, (bell skirt to bell hip is 2 1/4 inches, Handle 5 inches).
3 1/4 inches diameter at the skirt.
Crown part description:
Central “pregnant Obelisk” stem
Stylized wishbone shape on either side
Basket shape with Rope borders top and bottom, and bent lozenges (at top) in shields around the sides like petals, as the base.
Appears quite aged in it’s patina.
1. Can this be identified as a purser’s bell?
2. Can this be identified to either the ship or the line, if so?
Eastern lines apparently had two “Yarmouths” (one called the Yarmouth Castle). Both with interesting histories. I don’t know if the material I have can be attributed to a specific ship.
March 19, 2009 at 12:47 pm #14538hjlongMember
This is an interesting acquisition. I do not remember having seen a similar bell before. The handle is unique. The crown at the top has a resemblance to that on a Buddhist Pilgrim or Buddhist Priest bell, but on closer inspection appears to be more decorative rather than representing the blooming lotus of the pilgrim bell or the lightning bolts of the Dorge seen on the priest bell. If the bell does hold a magnet, it is probably brass plated steel and attempts to polish the brass may remove the brass coating. I would simply clean the bell and enjoy its patina along with its history.
Harry Long, MD
March 20, 2009 at 2:04 am #14539GarryParticipant
I think it looks quite unique too. Perhaps someone will recognize it, maybe from an old photo or something.
Couple of questions:
1. What’s the best way to clean a bell like this? (Should I not keep the patina?)
2. Should I try and replace the clapper hanger at least? Perhaps with a small chain? Or a length of stiff brass wire?
A side question:
I am told that a way to test for brass vs bronze is to put a drop of toilet bowl cleaner (I am assuming they mean something with chlorine as a base). If the drop turns pink you have bronze. Your thoughts on this practice?
March 20, 2009 at 1:48 pm #14540hjlongMember
If the bell is solid brass or bronze, I would go ahead and polish it. With a small bell like this with no engraving, a good brass polish like Brasso and a lot of “elbow grease” will suffice to bring out a high polish. If it is brass plated steel, you have to worry about how thick the brass plating is. If you buff off the brass, you will have patches of gray steel peeking through the rich brass and you might be better off leaving it with its patina. I would not use a buffing wheel, as it will remove more of the surface metal than hand buffing. The clapper is steel, but you could replace the steel wire with brass or a brass chain to avoid further rust on the inside of the bell. The clapper can be cleaned and dipped in shellac or a clear acrylic to protect it from further rusting. I would not try the test for brass or bronze, as it is not important and can cause damage to the surface. The handle looks like solid bronze to me, but the bell may be brass plated or brass clad steel. Good luck. If you do polish it, please share a before and after picture with us. Our readers will want to know whether to try the same approach.
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