Welcome to the ABA! Bell Talk Forums Small Bells Unidentified Hand Bell

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    • #12379

      Let me start by admitting I have next to no knowledge about bells, I just enjoy collecting old and interesting decorative objects from which I can learn something.

      I bought this small bell, about 3” wide at lip and roughly the same height, for just a couple dollars at a thrift store.
      It is non-magnetic though I do not know what the material is.
      It appears to have been lathe turned on the interior where there are “scratch” marks around the inner surface though the decoration on the exterior as well as where the clapper would have been attached appear cast.
      Another confusion for me is the lack of machine evidence (i.e. threading or holes etc) for a handle

      Any suggestions? Cheap knock-off of an older bell or something of interest?

    • #17713

      Welcome J McCauley!

      I see nobody had had a chance to respond to your posting so I thought I’d try and help out.
      Boy, that one has sure been pretty abused! It’s most likely brass in nature as you said a magnet doesn’t stick to it. The bell looks to have been cast, then turned on a lathe (you can faintly see the circular ribs inside) which shows it was a higher quality bell. I also don’t see any staining (coloring) on it showing that it’s got a good quality brass in it. Too much copper, for example, causes a blue green discoloration over time.

      What you appear to have is a likely small hand bell of the “evangelical apostles and the names Matthew, Mark, Luke and John ” on the side. They are usually represented by animals &/or Latin names, but the bell is so worn it’s probably hard to make them out. The wooden handle is usually jammed and glued in (see bell example below) while metal handles are normally pinned or screwed on.

      There are quite a number of styles and castings of this type of bell. It is old, but unfortunately in such rough shape (cracked, designs polished out, etc.) that it won’t have much value. There are simply a lot of these types still around in much much better shape! Sorry.

      Maybe consider stepping outside the box with it. A decoration for the top of a bird house, a small single flower centerpiece holder, that kind of thing.


    • #17714

      Looks like part of a Tibetan prayer bell. I don’t know about yours but they are generally made in India. You can usually find them in New Age related shops.

    • #17715

      Freedo could very well be right in that origin.
      The designs that do show up on the images you posted I have seen variations of on both types of bells.
      The reason I am leaning the other way is the handle. I haven’t noticed a lot of wooden handled ones from Tibet, they mostly seem to be cast in metal with the bell. Not to say they don’t exist, they do, but without being able to make out the images on the side it’s very hard to tell.

      He is absolutely right though, in checking that possibility out too!


    • #17716

      The handles are metal and detachable, in some cases, screwed in. I have to confess, I have a couple and compared them to the picture before posting.
      There are slight differences, probably due to the maker, but the basic design is the same.

    • #17717
      Carolyn Whitlock

      Your bell is the bottom of a Tibetan lamasery bell. If you go to bing.com and do a search for “Tibetan Bells”, you will see pictures of many bells like this one. You will see the handle is quite ornate.

      L. Elsinore Springer says in her The Collector’s Book of Bells, page 34:

      Drilbu, or lamasery bell showing the face of Sherchin, the feminine divinity who represents all wisdom.

      She goes on to say,

      Because Tibetan art rose out of a need to create objects for Lamaistic rituals, it is a unique art, peculiar to that country. This is well exemplified in the ornamentations on each bronze lamasery handbell, or drilbu, a type not found elsewhere. Eight mystic symbols circle the bell in delicate beaded relief. The neck of the handle shows one, two, or four faces of Sherchin, goddess of wisdom, topped by a lotus, then surmounted by a dorje: and the claw-like prongs of the dorje are likely to be gracefully carved. Upon close examination, additional decorative touches are often observed, invariably chosen from the Eight Buddhist Symbols: perhaps a wheel where the handle joins the bell; a fish for a clapper; or underneath, a conch shell etched where the clapper is attached…

      Although your bell is not complete, you can still enjoy it for the piece of art that it is!

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