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Decoration: Old traditional cast bells from Europe commonly carried a petal or horseshoe design and were subsequently referred to as “petal bells.” Individual makers might include their initials, or perhaps the size of the bell.As styles changed and stamped bells became vogue, bells were left undecorated and were polished to a shine.Individual specialty antique bells can still be found with fish-scale or ornate petal designs, but these are much less common.Construction: As mentioned above, harness bells were originally cast in brass.However, as horse-drawn transport faded with the advent of the automobile, so did the bell makers: only a handful of the old manufacturers are still producing the classic bells and many strings still used today are vintage relics from days gone by. Not quite: within the category of “sleigh bells” there are a number of ways to classify the individual bells: shape, throat style, decoration and construction.It should also be noted that what we think of as a traditional sleigh bell — a pellet trapped within a hollow globe — is actually called a “crotal” and is technically a rattle, not a bell.

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.A warning: even the most careful driver may sometimes get a line caught up in the bells.Because of the body strap’s location, bells are more prone to becoming broken, scraped off or gummed up with mud and ice.The process of metal stamping revolutionized the bell-making industry as well as the tonal qualities!Okay, now that you’ve finally selected what style of bell you’ll be using, you need to look at your horse and harness and decide where to put these things.

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