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The Evangelist Bell

One of the things I inherited from my grandmother was her dinner bell (which I'd always liked).  It's a brass bell about the size of a teacup and has the words mattheus marcus lucas johannes around the middle, along with the apropriate symbol for each: the winged man, the lion of St Mark, the winged ox of St Luke and the eagle.

It's not identical to the larger one in the picture, but it is very similar.

Google has failed me in trying to find out more about my bell, apart from the fact that it's called an 'Evangelist' bell because of the names of the four evanagelists (gospel writers).
I assume it may have been made as a copy of some original bell, and the fact that there are very similar ones out there tends to reinforce this.

Does anyone know where the  design of the bell originally came from.

It's not valuable - brass rarely is - but I'd like to know a bit more about it.



( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 13th, 2010 05:42 pm (UTC)
A bell is rung during Mass at the consecration, it may originally be related to that.
Feb. 13th, 2010 06:00 pm (UTC)
We've got one of those, and we use it as a dinner bell too.
Feb. 13th, 2010 07:51 pm (UTC)
Where did your one come from?
Feb. 13th, 2010 11:48 pm (UTC)
From my mother. Judging by its similarity to the smaller bell in your picture (writing Leo Aquila Agnus Pelicanus) it's a sanctuary bell. There's an identical one going on eBay here.
Feb. 14th, 2010 09:14 am (UTC)
Interesting - I'd like to know more about the origins of that one.

We've got the lion, lamb, pelican and eagle. The sanctuary bell is rung at various times during mass, one of them might tie into the lamb of God, but I can't see any logic for the others. The eagle might represent the holy spirit. I could make a case for the pelican representing blood (in mythology, it feeds its young by pecking blood from its breast). Any guesses for the lion? I don't think it can be St Mark in this instance (is it winged?).
Feb. 14th, 2010 12:07 pm (UTC)
Interesting. It looks as though my guess about the Pelican was correct. And the lion represents the Kingly nature of Christ, which answers my question.
Nov. 10th, 2011 04:40 am (UTC)
Inkwell has same handle as one on your link
Thanks for the link. My brass inkwell is exactly like the bell, handle and all, except it's an inkwell.
Feb. 14th, 2010 09:54 pm (UTC)
We had one of those when I was a kid - just realised that when Mum died it wasn't among her things. Wonder who took it?
Apr. 14th, 2010 11:12 pm (UTC)
Evangelist bell
I have one. Im having a hard time getting any info on it!

Apr. 15th, 2010 06:24 am (UTC)
Re: Evangelist bell
I was told by an antique dealer (but have no way of knowing if he was correct) that they were replicas made by the British Museum. But what they are supposed to be replicas of, I have no idea.
May. 4th, 2010 01:20 am (UTC)
Re: Evangelist bell
I have one also, but mine appears to be bronze, not brass. Any ideas?
May. 4th, 2010 07:08 am (UTC)
Re: Evangelist bell
I haven't seen a bronze one myself. Have you polished it? I know mine used to look a very different colour before I cleaned it up.
May. 15th, 2010 08:11 am (UTC)
evangelist bell
I have an evangelist bell but it's made of silver, not brass.
Feb. 19th, 2011 12:00 pm (UTC)
Evangelist/Sanctus Bell
I have quite a collection of these little bells. They are found at boot sales; on eBay; charity shops etc. They are not expensive. The odd thing is that my researches have found out very little about their purpose. I guess they are decorative table bells mostly. Of course there is a strong tradition in of bell usage in religious ceremonies. I remember the Catholic Mass having a bell rung at a significant moment.
Feb. 19th, 2011 12:16 pm (UTC)
Re: Evangelist/Sanctus Bell
My grandmother used hers as a dinner bell. I often wonder if they were copied from some larger historical bell.
Feb. 19th, 2011 12:30 pm (UTC)
Re: Evangelist/Sanctus Bell
Until a year ago I was not interested in bells, well, not in any significant way. It was only when, at a boot sale, I started talking to a stall holder about a brass bell she was selling that my interest started. As I handled the bell, and looked more closely at the relief work, I suddenly realized that something special was in my hands. The lady told me that it belonged to her grandmother and it was always on the mantle shelf; she knew little else about it. I bought the bell for four pounds and since then I have built up quite a collection. This little bell was cast using the lost wax method....I'll see if I can post a photo of it sometime.
Nov. 10th, 2011 04:32 am (UTC)
Mine is an INKWELL, just like yours, but is inkwell
I found your post, because I am researching a brass inkwell, that looks exactly like your bell, but the top handle is a bit different, and it has an inkwell inside, but same inscriptions and pictures. I know it is old, because it's been in my family for well over 70 years.
Nov. 10th, 2011 07:55 am (UTC)
Re: Mine is an INKWELL, just like yours, but is inkwell
Interesting. I'm sure they must be based on some original somewhere - not least because of the unusual spelling of the names. Do you have a photo?
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )


Judith Proctor


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