dating antique sleigh bells

Delores Morton, 32 years old


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Early bells late s through about The very earliest North American horse bells date to the s and s. These incredibly rare bells have been uncovered by archaeologists at the sites of early European settlements along the eastern seaboard of North America and along the paths of Spanish expeditions through Mexico and the southwestern and southern United States. The oldest sleigh bells the average person is likely to find typically date from the late s through about Here are some of the key characteristics of most late s and early s bells: Almost all are petal bells with an intricate, crisp design, but some are totally plain.

But why? Who decided that putting bells all over a sleigh and harness were festive? Like other forms of equine ornamentation, bells on the harness, tack or horse itself were used as charms: Additionally, bells and ornaments were a great way to show off your wealth and status: For horse-drawn livery or vendors, the bells also served as a commercial to let potential customers know they were in the area — kind of like an old-school ice cream truck. In both Europe and dating antique sleigh bells United States, sleighing became a popular form of recreation in the winter as well as a method of transportation in the nineteenth century. Therefore, horses and sleighs were turned out spotlessly with plenty of decoration, including rich strings of harness bells — again emphasizing the wealth and status of the owner.

Three types of new sleigh bells are most often misrepresented as antiques in antique stores, flea markets, and online or live auctions. These are the petal, raspberry, and acorn designs. My goal in this article is to help you identify the modern versions of these sleigh bells from the antique ones. When I use the term " antique " on this website, I am specifically talking about bells made during the "horse and buggy times". Antique North American sleigh bells date from the s through the s.
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Historical Introduction. Bells are one of a very small number of artefacts that have been in virtually continuous production for over years. The earliest known examples were made in China before BC, and they were familiar everyday objects to the ancient Indians, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. 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 , 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. The crotal bell was developed somewhat later.