Keeper loop strap with 47 early-1800s bells

This massive strap holds 47 large sleigh bells, most of which date to the early 1800s. Many of these early bells have maker's marks and other unusual details, making them highly collectible bells. 

The owner asked that we use the bells as-is without additional cleaning or polishing. Most of the bells had a soft brownish gold color, although a few were decidedly darker. This much color variation is pretty typical, however, for early 1800s bells cast by multiple foundries.

Bell makers featured on this strap include English bell maker Robert Wells and American bell makers Belden & Lee, Parsons & Smith, Seth North, William Barton, Hiram or Hubbard Barton, Joseph Shipman, and North & Stanley. Learn more about American horse bell makers...

The strap itself is made from dark brown leather 2" wide and 112 inches long (9 feet 4 inches). The ends of the strap taper to 1 1/2" buckles. A separate "billet" strap of plain leather fastens onto the buckles to complete the strap.

The strap is so long the leather had to be spliced. I made two splices, each fastened with a three lines of stitches in a traditionally method used to join wide harness straps. The splices divide the bell strap roughly into thirds. (Click "See more images" to see one of the splices.)

Narrow "keeper loops" hold the lining and bell straps together. There is a keeper between each pair of large bells in the center. There are keepers between every two of the smaller bells near the ends. 

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.

Price: For inspiration, not for sale