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Lot 1011: Antique Brass CONESTOGA BELLS Iron Frame Leather Harness Horse Drawn Wagon Carriage
November 18, 2012
Freeville, NY, USALive Auction
Details: This set of antique bells was designed to be mounted on a horse's harness, usually the lead horse in a team. Although typically called Conestoga bells, they were used on all types of carriages, wagons, and buggies. This set is still beautifully melodious, with bells of three different sizes providing different pitches. The bells are attached to an wrought iron frame with mounting spikes, and the frame is covered with leather wrappings. The bells and frame measure 18" x 15" x 5". This item is from the Van Lennep family estate.
Henry J. Van Lennep (1815-1889) was a noted nineteenth century minister, missionary, writer, illustrator, and educator. Born in Smyrna, Van Lennep was educated in the U.S. but returned to Turkey upon ordination, where he served as missionary for 29 years. During this time, he traveled extensively throughout western Asia and Egypt, aided by his proficiency in many languages. A skillful artist, he wrote and illustrated several books based on his travels. Published during a time when public curiosity about "the Orient" was high, these books were very popular, showing the scenery, people, and customs of Asia Minor, and discussing these elements with Biblical and archaeological references. He also illustrated scientific texts with the noted geologist and President of Amherst College, Edward Hitchcock. After losing his sight in 1869, he returned to the U.S., where he spent the last twenty years of his life teaching natural sciences and languages at Ingham University, a women's college in Le Roy, New York, and later serving as co-principal at the Sedgwick Institute in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, with his son, Edward.
The provenance of this material can be traced directly back to Henry Van Lennep through four generations of his descendants.
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Condition / Notes: The iron frame shows oxidation, but is structurally sound. The leather harness material is dried out. The middle-sized bell has a 3/4" tight crack which has made it sound somewhat tinny.
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