Dating antique sleigh bells
The casting is then rolled to form an elongated cone with a seam, and the four base projections are folded in to retain the pellet, as on the preceding types.
Similar teardrop-shaped bells have been found on elaborate harness decorations with pendants that are dateable to the 14th century. Read, Metal Artefacts of Antiquity, 464.) Alongside the early cast crotals, copper and copper-alloy bells of sheet metal were produced.
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.
They have served a number of purposes, from ritual, magical and religious, to musical, signalling and warning.
The wearing of bells became fashionable in the 14th century and remained so well into the 15th century.
They are of tin and were cast as open bells with an integral suspension loop and four ‘petals’ forming the lower body.
The pellet, also of cast tin, was placed inside the open-ended bell, and the four petals were pushed inwards to meet at the centre and enclose it.
Although crotal bells were possibly first used in antiquity, surviving examples that can reliably be dated before the medieval period are rare.
The earliest dateable examples identified while carrying out research for the present article are some of the 9th century AD, recovered from female graves in Gotland, Sweden.
Slightly later, a narrow strip of sheeting was used instead of wire, and was either fitted in the same way, or formed into a ring and soldered to the top of the bell as on the example illustrated.