The large, impressive bells on this strap are treasured heirlooms from the owner's long-established Pennsylvania family. The bells range from 1 5/8" diameter to 3" diameter. The size graduation is irregular -- fourteen bells are 1 7/8" and eight are 2 1/4" diameter.
Most of the bells have maker's marks or other unusual details that are characteristic of early 1800s bells. I estimate most of them were made sometime between 1810 and 1840.
Because the bells are so large and there are so many of them, it was clear that the strap would also be large and impressive. The fully-lined strap, made of dark brown bridle leather, is over 8 1/2 feet long and 2 1/8" wide. We had to splice leather together to make the strap this long, because a side of leather is only 8 feet long at best.
We used early-1800s methods to construct the strap, which means there are no rivets or other metal fasteners on the bell strap. The keeper loops between the bells, the liner, and the old buckle are secured with hand stitching.
The strap fragment that the owner sent with the bells was probably not the original early-1800s strap, but the old steel buckle was still sound, usable and more appropriate to the bells than a new buckle. We reused it on the new bell strap and duplicated the stitching pattern that the maker used to fasten the buckle onto the old strap.
This particular item is a custom, one-of-a-kind project made for a past client. Items in this Custom Projects section are for information only; they are not available for regular sale.