This dark-brown neck strap features a set of 17 petal bells from the late 1800s through the mid 1900s. The strap, about 50 inches long from buckle to buckle, is sized to fit on a typical draft horse collar.
A separate billet (short strap with holes, not shown) is fastened onto the two buckles to complete the piece. The bell strap can be adjusted to fit different horses by buckling in a billet of the correct length.
"Keeper loops" between each pair of bells hold the bell strap and lining strap together. The strap tapers from 1 1/2" wide in the middle to 1 1/4" at the ends to fit the buckles. The buckles were salvaged from the original strap for reuse on the new strap.
The bells range in size from 1 1/2" (#4) to 2 1/8" (#9). The bells graduate in size from the buckle to the middle as follows: #4 - #4 - #4 - #6 - #6 - #6 - #8 - #8 - #9 ... and back down.
The #4, #6, and #9 bells date to the late 1800s and early 1900s. I estimate the #8 bells were made in the mid 1900s. They appear to be a transitional style between antique sleigh bells of the late 1800s to early 1900s and typical modern (reproduction) sleigh bells made from the mid 1900s through today.
The #8 bells have rounded openings at the ends of the throat and a shape typical of antique bells. On the other hand, the ornamentation is coarse and heavy like a modern bell, and they are also quite heavy. Both are characteristics of a modern bell.
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.