Robert Wells Crotal bell – likely use?
November 14, 2009 at 5:25 am #11254
This was found on a beach in Dublin bay amongst some rocks near to the spot where a British ship had floundered with the loss of over 400 lives. It is 5 inches in diameter. This is the largest bell of this type I have seen.
Without the possibility of a link with a ship I would assume this was an animal bell. But is it possible it may have been hung on a ship? It would have driven me mad if it was up somewhere permanently!
I would be grateful for any help with identifying the likely use of this bell.
November 15, 2009 at 12:30 am #14908GarryParticipant
It would be nice to get a few different shots of the mounting part, but I’d like to put my two cents in if I may.
1. How long ago did the ship go down? I suspect quite some time ago. That brings up a couple points then: a) in the ocean there are all sorts of organisms that will rapidly colonize / encrust surfaces in the sea. I don’t see any on this bell. and b) Salt water (any water really, but essentially salt) will corrode iron very quickly. The mounting bracket does not look corroded enough to have been immersed for an overly long period of time to me. I find it doubtful that it came from the ship in question unless it is relatively recent and/or has a portion above the waterline.
2. From what I can see of the mounting bracket, it appears to have been riveted to something. Is where you found it a relatively smooth area that would permit a horse drawn carriage? I can see it being knocked off one of those along a stony beach. Perhaps a horse drawn boat carriage to haul the boat in and take it to storage. The bell would act to alert people while in transit.
3. While I haven’t heard of these bells being used for ‘ocean’ purposes, I can’t see why they wouldn’t be. For example on a Buoy as a backup marker or on a float for a crab pot. Since you sound like you are near the area, it would probably be fairly easy to simply stop by a fisherman’s supply shop and ask. You might even see some new ones for sale there!
Just some ideas for you, from a land locked ‘lubber’.
November 15, 2009 at 5:23 am #14909
Thank you Gary for these thoughts. I think you tried harder than I did!
This is the only information and photo I have. It was sent to me by the finder who saw my blog. It happens a lot – fun really.
I will pass this information on and find out if they have any more details.
November 16, 2009 at 3:07 pm #14910hjlong3Participant
At 5 inches diameter, this is a large crotal. It would have been part of a graduated strap of heavy horsebells or as part of a set of rump or saddle bells. It would have had no nautical use, but could have been on a ship bound for other places along with horses.
Harry Long, MD
November 17, 2009 at 7:55 pm #14911
[attachment=2:27kmx6b4]100_1334-1.jpg[/attachment:27kmx6b4]More about this bell from the finder:
There were two ships wrecked at this spot on the same night in 1807, near what is now known as Seapoint, here in Dublin Bay. They got into trouble in a storm and crashed into the rocks with a loss of over 400 lives, mostly British troops in transit. These were the Rochdale and the Prince of Wales. Very close to where I found the bell there is a plaque commemorating this event.
As I found the bell at low tide, in a spot that is not very accessible to the general public, it may have gone unnoticed for a substantial period of time. It is true that there is no evidence of colonization by sea organisms on its surface, but it may well have been buried in the sand and only exposed more recently. The iron clasp is also quite corroded, though maybe not enough to suggest that it was in the water for over 200 years.
It is not a spot where a cart would likely have ever travelled. However, I have now discovered that Dublin city used to have what were known as ‘Bellmen’ who travelled around with carts selling their wares. I should imagine that a bell like this would have been ideal for such a business.
Any more thoughts anyone?
December 19, 2009 at 7:33 am #14912Holly BarnesParticipant
Have not conversed with you for a very long while!
Do you suppose there were any horses on board these ships?
The bell you show in your picture looks very close to some sleigh bells I have seen in graduating sizes. I think I have a couple smaller ones.The etching on the bottom of the bell is just like the one I have, except the one I have is a number 10. I have a smaller one too.I have seen them on leather straps the largest in the middle decreasing in size to both directions. The Largest one I have ever seen was about 3-4 inches across.
I looked up sleighbells in my “Collectors Book of Bells” by Elsinore Springer It says that these types of bells were made in the U.S. in the 1700’s. It also says that they were made two ways. Originally they were made in two parts and welded together until a man by the name of William Barton Got an idea to cast them in one piece around a pellet (clanger) in a ball of sand which would later be sifted out.
I am not sure I helped much but maybe gave a little insight. Whhy they would be on a military boat inthe 1800’s I am not sure.
Good luck with your search.
December 19, 2009 at 7:47 am #14913Holly BarnesParticipant
Just a couple of things I thought of after looking at your pictures again. I think we all may be right as to the use of these bells. Just because they were commonly used as sleighbells does not mean someone could not have used them for something other than that. It’s possiable that the bracket connected to it is a retrofit for another use.
Does this bell have a slot with rounded openings on each end on the bottom of it?
Does it look as if it was cast in one or two pieces?
Thanks, Holly Barnes
December 19, 2009 at 10:36 am #14914
Thanks for these observations. I don’t know any more than previously said. It’s such fun to speculate on these things! All part of the fascination of bells.
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