Dating antique hand bell clappers

They are also found in a wide range of sizes, at least from 13mm to 34mm diameter, suggesting a variety of different uses. Mo L, Dress Accessories, 1644-1667; B Read, History Beneath Our Feet.p.55, No.2; Mitchiner, Medieval & Secular Badges, 350.) Around the end of the 13th century, a new type of white-metal (pewter and tin) crotal bell, cast in one piece, appears.

dating antique hand bell clappers-59

They have served a number of purposes, from ritual, magical and religious, to musical, signalling and warning.

Apart from their functional role, bells have served as decorative devices throughout the ages, and continue to be popular as harness embellishments to the present day.

Their longevity is reflected by the fact that the Guinness Book of Records lists the Whitechapel Bell Foundry as Britain's oldest manufacturing company, having been established in 1570, or possibly even earlier, and still producing bells today.

The earliest bells were cup-shaped and were struck externally with a separate striker, but it was not long before the attached internal clapper was invented, and the two types have co-existed ever since. It differs from the preceding types in that its clapper is loose and contained within an enclosed chamber with perforations to allow transmission of the sound.

The body of these is made in two halves, formed by hammering the sheet into shaped moulds, and joined together, after inserting the iron ‘pea’, with a lead/tin solder.

On the very earliest of this type, the loop was made of circular-section wire, which was inserted through a small hole in the top of the bell and its ends splayed in the manner of a modern split-pin.They are known with domed (as illustrated) and conical upper bodies, and some have moulded decoration, while others are plain.They are distinguishable from the later one-piece crotals by the mould joint lines, which run in a vertical direction, as shown, on both the upper and lower halves, and also by the absence of holes in the upper part of the body.Later ones are often plain, but some have moulded decoration of various forms.The rounded ends of the sound bow are often very close to, or interrupt, the girth rib.Technically they are regarded as rattles, rather than true bells.

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