Welcome to the ABA! Bell Talk Forums Small Bells Two small bells, what are they for? Where are they from?

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    • #12200
      PBLane
      Participant

      Hi,
      These two small bells, I think they are brass. Came out of my husband’s uncle’s house in Ballindereen, Co. Waterford. It was a small farm house he lived in for over 80 years. It belong to his parents as well. This is a very modest family farmhouse. Not sure what the bells were used for as they did not have means for servants. Tea bells? One has a marking on the back, the one with the imp on top, which reads RD 783233. The larger bell with the flower motif has no markings. They are small, fit in the palm of your hand. Pics are here http://barrylane.smugmug.com/Other/Bells/27993096_php8ff#!i=2363751419&k=HsbZQBx

      Any info on their usage, origins would be most appreciative.

      Regards
      Tricia

    • #17324
      Garry
      Participant

      Hello Tricia!

      First welcome! You have a couple of very nice bells – someone had good taste! I’ll try and answer your questions here.

      The first “imp” bell is indeed that: an early form of the “Lincoln Cathedral Imp Bell”. It’s classed as a Figrual or Figure bell which are made to represent Real or Fictional historical characters. In this case it’s an underworld IMP supposedly sent to the Lincoln Cathedral (England) to create all sorts of mischief. Things like changing naughty people to stone, or stealing tools etc.

      Most likely it’s basically an item to remind one of the story or of a visit to the Cathedral, similar to souvenir items we see today, just a nice earlier form! The number is probably the identification or part number for the bell, indicating that it’s not the earliest form, most likely early to mid 1900’s. I am sure that someone back when came up with a story for it, likely along the lines of the ‘biker’s bells’ used to stop the road imps from grabbing your tires and toppling the bike. A story that “the bell is placed near your tools, so that the imp is frightened away by it’s ringing when he tries to steal it” would certainly fit, after all!

      The second, in my mind is a more interesting bell. The bell looks to be both cast then engraved to bring out the details, it has a lot of features going in it! The main one seems to be the Daisy or Morning Eye flower and has Anglo-Saxon origins for the name. It’s an early season flower with a Roman mythological legend where a nymph Belides transformed herself into a Daisy to avoid the attentions of the god of the orchards. It’s a free dancing happy go lucky maiden flower. The other flower could be a poppy or a stylized rose (likely the rose) both historically have links to blood lines and marriage. The stylized lines have similar connotations.

      I suspect that you have a wedding bell here. The design elements and form strongly suggests this use to me. You might even find with research, that the specific flowers and wavy designs are from a specific English shield might even denote a specific wedding! That was not uncommon at the time, and is done on bells with names and prints on bells and other items even today! Also, If you see Elsinor Spinger’s “The collectors book of bells”, check out the image on page 132. The top left bell design is very similar in outline to this one, that one was made by the Gorham Factory. If you can find remnants of silver plating on it, that would be an even closer tie in as Gorham produced a lot of silver plated brass bells.

      Hope this helped you!
      Garry

    • #17325
      PBLane
      Participant

      Dear Garry,
      Thank you so much. What a very interesting response! I wonder who’s wedding was celebrated as well.
      We feel very lucky to have received these after uncle’s demise. I have had them for a few years and always wondered what they
      could be used for and where they came from.

      I looked up the RD number on a British mark site, and it states that the imp bell should have been made around 1936. That goes
      with uncle’s age, but also all of my husband’s family (mom, dad and 14 children lived in that little farm house at one time or another).

      Thank you for the reference. I hope I can discover more about the wedding bell.

      Tricia

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