Welcome to the ABA! Bell Talk Forums Small Bells What is this bell?

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    • #11647

      Virginia in Montevideo, Uruguay, writes:

      Dear members of the association. I am writing to you because I identify my hood. that was purchased at an antiques fair. I was struck by its strange beauty. It is of bronze, and is shed. It measures 13 centimeters at the base and about the same height. It has a foundry mark. is decorated with human figures playing instruments and registration PATER: NOST: QUI: ES: IN: CCCELIS: Dominus Vobis CCUM: ET: CCUM: Spiritu: TUO: The foot is very striking claims of 15 centimeters and has a gargoyle of 10 centimeters, and other symbols, something like a greenman, and a rooster. I would like to send pictures, if I can help identify their origin. I saw just a clock-bell Tiffany signature on the web that reminded me of the work. Thank you for your reply.

      If you can help, please post a response.
      Admin (Carolyn)

      This inquiry was originally sent to the ABA’s Internet Coordinator. Responses are opinions of individuals based on their personal research and knowledge.


    • #16121

      This is a wall-mounted monastery/sacristy/sanctuary bell. There is usually a chain at one end of the horizontal shaft to ring the bell, and a counterweight at the other end of the shaft to return the bell to a vertical position.

      The first inscription, in Latin, is the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer:
      Pater noster, qui es in caelis – Our father, who art in heaven

      The second inscription, also in Latin, is a blessing at mass from the priest and a response by the server:
      Dominus vobiscum – The lord be with you
      Et cum spiritu tuo – And with thy spirit

    • #16122

      I agree that this is a Sacristy Bell that would be rung when the Priest entered the chancel from the sacristy. These bells were usually made in Belgium or France. Almost identical bells with secular writing have been used as a Gatehouse Call Bell in Belgium and France.
      Harry Long, MD

    • #16123

      I have a bell exactly like this one, but it has a name etched on the top rim. It reads: “Echternach”. Is it a reproduction?

    • #16124

      My two cents:

      Echternach is a canton in the east of Luxembourg, in the Grevenmacher District. The capital is Echternach.


    • #16125

      Thank you for the information. But I still need to know if the bell is authentic or a reproduction. Is there a way to tell?

    • #16126

      Sorry, Difficult to tell from the photos if it’s a repro or not. The images are just too small! Also some things need a personal viewing, such as looking for substituted metals in areas.

      But I can tell you some of the signs to look for:
      1) Are the designs crisp and sharp? (Look especially at the ‘valleys’ where a polishing rag rarely gets to.) Reproductions often use the original bell as a ‘master’ to make the mold. The copy is rarely as well defined as the original because the original is a hand carved mold rather than a copy. Valleys will be shallower and rounded for example, because the mold material doesn’t fully get into them and, even if they ‘sharpen’ the valley, they have to remove material from the mold so it gets shallower/less defined in the copy. Fine details are simply lost. (so look at photos of other examples to see what fine details are there and what they should look like!)
      2) Look for poorly done mold lines. These are the lines where the two mold halves meet. Reproductions normally either leave outsized ones, where excess material squeezed out between poorly fitting molds, or they used a grinder to remove so they look damaged.
      3) Look at the pierced designs. Are any of the ‘holes’ still having material in them? The original types get cleaned up by hand and file, the copies are usually left as is, slag and all. If punched out, they aren’t cleaned up so look like they have thin ragged mold lines inside them.
      4) Look at the clapper and how it’s attached. Best to find photos of the bell on line to see how others are attached. Because this is a hidden area, the copies often have cheaper material/attachments here.
      5) Look for any mounting screws and bolts. This may indicate that the item has either undergone repairs or is a copy if the type of bolt/nuts do not match the period of the bell. (for example if you see a Phillips head then you know it’s post 1930 when it was invented for the auto industry.)
      6) Check the size, copies are sometimes smaller because the manufacturer is cutting costs.
      7) Check for fit. When the older items were made, they were made by Craftsmen who spent their whole adult life learning (apprenticeship) and doing this one type of job or task. So they made Quality, hand tooled, items. Parts fit closely together with no gaps. You may see signs where the parts were hand filed for a better fit in originals. Copies are slammed out in a hurry, so they don’t quite fit together. Seams have gaps or one side is slightly out of alignment to the other. If filed they were usually ground down with a grinder rather than by hand.
      8 ) Look for inconsistencies such as materials used, hidden areas such as where two parts attach showing machined marks in the hidden areas, that kind of thing showing cost cutting.

      Basically remember: The copy is just that. A lesser quality, usually mass produced item. Anything that takes time or handling or is hidden so doesn’t need to be authentic, is usually omitted. This is not a hard and fast rule; knock offs have been made for centuries! But the older knock offs tend to be just about as interesting as the originals in that case, because they were still hand done (industrial revolution hadn’t happened yet!). The newer ones are just cheap decorative items at best though. I find that the more decorative the item, oddly enough, the more blatant the sloppiness of the copy. I have lady bell examples, where the seam mark is literally wiped away using a grinder and it shows with big ugly ‘skid marks’ all over that area! It’s supposed to be a delicate decorated dress, not road rash!

      My rule of thumb? If it’s borderline in your mind as to authentic or not, it’s probably not, you have likely subconsciously seen something that doesn’t match! If you are reselling, then especially, don’t authenticate it as real when you don’t know. That’s a quick way to lose your reputation!

      Hope this helps you!


    • #16127

      Thank you, Garry, for your detailed and informative answer. I appreciate the time and effort it took for you to help me out.
      Again, thanks a million!!!

    • #16128

      You are most welcome Frieda!

      I will also say, from what I can see of your photos, that it looks like a great bell and I do suspect it is authentic.

      These types of bells, from what I have been able to research, usually hung outside of doorways (mostly in Catholic buildings) as a type of indoor, door bell. But I don’t see the side arm in your photos with the loop on the end (though it’s probably the long bar in the back -photos too small and eyes too old to know for sure) 😉 . The ones I have seen photos of had a small arm to one side that had a cord of some sort attached to it. When you pulled the cord the arm came down swinging the bell to ring it. Alternatively some had a cord on the clapper, but I could only find one example of that so I don’t know if it was an after market modification or not.

      I think you have a great sample, myself!

    • #16129

      Hi Garry,
      Yes, the bell pull is missing. It once had a chain attached, but somehow that disappeared. Still, it is a beautiful bell. Thanks for your comments.

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