This set of bells was sent to us for restoration by a Missouri family. The original strap had been broken and repaired several times in the past. The leather was stiff and fragile from age and neglect and was not worth repairing again. Several of the larger bells were also filled with mud-wasp nests. Thankfully there were no wasps amongst the mud and old egg cases!
The bells and their original strap date from the mid to late 1800s. The new dark brown strap is 1 3/4" wide and almost 9 feet long overall. I made it a little wider than the original 1 1/2" bell strap to better support the unusually large center bells.
Other than making it a bit wider, the new strap is exactly like the original, right down to the rivet and bell locations on the strap, the hand-tapered ends, and the hand stitched "W" pattern on the buckle and billet.
The 23 bells on the strap graduate from a massive 3 1/4" (#18) bell in the center to a pair of 1 3/8" diameter (#3) bells at each end.
The progression of bell sizes along the strap is #3-#3-#6-#7-#8-#9-#10-#11-#11-#12-#16-#18 and back down to #3. Because large bells dominate this strap, it has a much deeper, louder sound than most bell straps.
The billet (tongue) end and buckle ends are both tapered to accommodate the original 1 1/4" buckle. The use of a buckle that is slightly narrower than the main strap is a graceful detail we see on many older bell straps. Both ends of the strap are hand stitched in a classic "W" pattern using flax (linen) thread and a traditional 2-needle saddler's stitch.
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.