Dating crotal bells

The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the BBC or the British Museum.The BBC is not responsible for the content of any external sites referenced.In the event that you consider anything on this page to be in breach of the site’s House Rules please Flag This Object. Captain William Barton started to make sleigh bells and pistols about 1778.Both the upper and lower hemispheres of the bell is decorated with the popular 'sunburst' design.The founders' mark of a horseshoe symbol can be seen on the underside of the bell but it is uncertain to which foundary or maker this mark belongs to. This type of bell dates from the 16th to 17th century AD.Crotal bells were extremely popular from at least the early medieval period and although many founders also made this type of bell, no others offered such a range of sizes (over 30! Early medieval ones were made in two separate halves that after putting a metal pea (this rolls around and so makes it sound) inside were either soldered or crimped together but around 1400 the method of casting them in one whole piece and the magic of just how a ball of metal came to get inside was born.This is a number 32 and it measures 158mm across (the little one by its side is the smallest one produced and measures 32mm across).

During the colonial period, mold-cast crotals with similar motifs were imported in large quantities to the Americas.

The sleigh bells from Westmoreland County pictured above also have a u-shaped shank like the bell found at Fort Hunter; however, the presence of four mold holes circling the shaft is likely evidence of post-1850 manufacturing techniques.

There is a faint petal design and number “8” engraved on the larger crotal from the Milk site (36Wm540), indicating a 2” diameter size.

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