Dating antique sleigh bells

Less common body straps are the pony strap, which includes a double-row of small bells (so named because of the size of the bell, not the animal!

) or the all-metal Sunday strap which would be used only on special occasions.

Because of the body strap’s location, bells are more prone to becoming broken, scraped off or gummed up with mud and ice.For horse-drawn livery or vendors, the bells also served as a commercial to let potential customers know they were in the area — kind of like an old-school ice cream truck.In both Europe and the United States, sleighing became a popular form of recreation in the winter as well as a method of transportation in the nineteenth century.Bell manufacturers began to shape an industry in the eighteenth century, casting their makers’ marks and ornate designs on individual bells.Bells were cast until the end of the 1800s, when an American manufacturer developed a process to stamp bells out of sheet metal, greatly expediting the production process.

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