German Silver-Gilt Table Bell

Object Number: #403

Augsburg

Lorenz II Biller (c. 1649-1726)

City’s hallmark: a ‘pyr’ for Augsburg, 1719-20 (Seling 1980, no. 179)

Maker’s mark: ‘LB’ with a star for Lorenz II. Biller(Seling 1980, no. 1753)

H.: 8 cm (3,1 in.); weight: 95 gr. (3,35 oz.)

Detailed Information

German Silver-Gilt Table Bell

This nice silver-gilt table bell is finely decorated. The body is round, and the sound bow is spreading. The body is divided in two parts. The lower part is adorned with embossed acanthus leaves and scrolls on a finely punched background. The upper part is decorated with embossed lamp’s tongues. The cast handle is left plain and with a knob as finial. Inside with a hinged clapper.

Cultural History of the Bell

The bell has centuries of cultural history and is not a single creation of Christian, western culture. Bell is the name given to a sound instrument – usually a cup-shaped vessel which is hollow and inside is brought to ringing tones by a clapper which vibrates.

Bells were very often included in the ritual and religious actions of many religions. In the secular world bells were often used as signal instruments. Since the Middle Ages, bells have been known as a call to pay taxes; the beer bell as a signal to open taverns; the storm bell as an alarm in a storm or other dangerous situation.

Silver Table Bells

Small bells served, among others, the monarchs, the politicians in parliament and the judges in the courtroom. They gradually became a part of the tableware as table bells. As such they have spread especially since the Renaissance. In the beginning, table bells were used more in courtyards. The demand for silver table bells has increased since the seventeenth and especially the eighteenth century.

Maker

Lorenz II. Biller, goldsmith, son of Lorenz I, Protestant, born around 1649. He became a master around 1678 and married in the same year. He died in 1726. His works are in important German and international museums.

Literature

Lange, Anselm, Europäische Tischglocken: klingende Kostbarkeiten vom Mittelalter bis zur Gegenwart. Mit Beiträgen aus der Kulturgeschichte der Glocke, Kornwestheim: Minner-Verlag, 1981.