Wandering Lizard Bell
April 26, 2009 at 1:14 am #11110
I just obtained this bell recently.
It has the inscription on the bell skirt:
“California Missions Fra Junipero Serra Pres”
I boasts a cross on the front and a Friar as the handle.
It is entirely of none Ferris material (doesn’t hold a magnet) with what looks like a lead clapper.
From my research so far, I believe it to be a bell celebrating a Spanish Frair who walked 250 miles to Mexico City as a demonstration of
piety, which seems to have earned him the nickname of the ‘wandering lizard’.
Here’s a summary from the On line New World Encyclopedia:
From New World Encyclopedia
Fra Junípero Serra (November 24, 1713 –
August 28, 1784) was a Spanish Franciscan friar
who founded a mission chain in Alta California
and is remembered both for his effective
missionary work and his courageous insistence on
the rights of Native Americans.”
It seems to have some age to it, I am thinking back to the late 1800’s, early 1900’s.
3 1/2 inches high,
2 1/4 in diameter.
Appears to be sand cast with a staple in the bottom that both holds the handle on and supports the clapper.
very fine but rough textured surface with a couple spots where I think someone tried to polish it up with a wheel.
Anyone recognize it’s maker or age?
May 3, 2009 at 2:43 am #14578maxkurilloParticipant
Hi Garry. You have a bell that was designed and made by Mrs. A.S.C. Forbes between 1924-1940 at her foundry in Los Angeles. To start with It was made to acknowledge the work of Fr. Serra, and sold as what it is, a souniver. Thousands of them were made and sold in almost all the missions and gift shops in California at that time. Mrs. Forbes died in 1950 and so did all the charming things she made. They come in the natural finish, as the one you have and in a highly polished version. One of these highly polished bell is in the Carmel Mission in CA. The guides tell visitors that it “IS” FATHER SERRA’S ALTAR BELL and he used it during mass. Mrs. Forbes named this bell FATHER SERRA’S ALTAR BELL, thats the offical sales name. Some one gave this bell to the mission and the name got missused, missunderstood, or perhaps just to attract visitor attention. They are very nice and a conversion item. I really hope you enjoy this bell.
Other than the information above nothing else is known about them. A short note on Fr. Serra,Hi founded the first nine missions in CA. About his travels; the distance from mission Carmel (his home church in northern CA) to San Diego is about 486 miles, from San Diego to Loreto (in Baja California) is about 758 miles. then a boat trip to the main land and than about 1200+ miles to Mexico City (by modern day highway milage chart).
His entire trip was several months, we know how long he was in Mexico City and how long the boat ride was, so that leaves land distance. One way he would have had to walk 814 miles a month, 203 miles per week or 29 miles per day, this comes out to 3.7 mph for eight hours, seven days a week. To complicate things we know about every 4 days he rested. NO, he did not walk that trip he rode a horse or donkey. He did not have his Frobes Altar bell with him. If you want more info not bell related firstname.lastname@example.org
May 3, 2009 at 4:48 pm #14579
It is sure great to have access to such a knowledgeable group of people such as yourself!
You have sure filled in the missing details I was looking for. Thanks!
I’ll also check your reference!
May 10, 2009 at 11:58 pm #14580maxkurilloParticipant
Just took another look at your Fr. Serra Bell. The clapper is original. It look like you can take some Brasso and polish the bell. It will take some work but when finished it wii be really nice.. I think it’s just dirty and taished. whatever you do to it will not hurt the surface. try it and let us know. Max
May 11, 2009 at 9:48 am #14581
I have not tried cleaning a bell yet, Max, but both yourself and Harry suggest I try.
I have obtained an old broken bell that is pretty much as corroded as the others, and am going to photograph my attempts to clean it a few different ways. I want to see what is best.
I’ll be letting you know what I find!
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