- Museum number
Gold bell pendant suspended on a chain of woven gold mesh forming a flat band with a boxed hook-and-eye clasp. The bell is engraved with a two-line Greek inscription divided between each face, the lines ending in palmettes.
- Production date
Length: 17.70 centimetres (chain)
Length: 1.60 centimetres (pendant, including loop)
- Curator's comments
- Text from catalogue of Hull Grundy Gift (Gere et al 1984) no. 970:
The bell appears to be a reduced copy of a gold bell measuring 2.78 cm, found on the Esquiline Hill in Rome in 1873, which had entered the Castellani collection of ancient jewellery by 1877, when it was exhibited in New York (see Catalogue of the Castellani Collection, exhibition catalogue, New York, 1877, p. 32); the inscription, which was inaccurately recorded, was described as a charm or jettatura to ward off the 'evil eye'. The bell was then sold in the Castellani sale in Paris in 1884 (Castellani 1884, p. 15, no. 129) and has since disappeared without trace. Surprisingly, there is no copy by Castellani in the Museo di Villa Giulia; this copy may have been made by a Roman jeweller before the bell entered the Castellani collection or after it had been sold in 1884.
The bell aroused considerable interest at the time of its finding on account of the magical inscription, which, literally translated, means 'I am subordinate to the eyes'. The bell was first published and illustrated by Luigi Bruzza (1881, p. 290). It then became the subject of a lengthy paper by Rossignol (1883), who refuted its authenticity although he had never seen the original.
Recently a silver copy of this bell has been noted by Geoffrey Munn (Newsletter of the Society of Jewellery Historians, vol. 2, no. 3, March 1982, pp. 16-18). (Judy Rudoe)
Supplementary information to catalogue text:
The inscription should correctly be translated as : 'I am enslaved by your eyes'.
For three further versions of this bell, see Sotheby's New York, 6 December 2006, 'Castellani and Giuliano: The Judith H. Seigel Collection', lot 41: small gold bell pendant, unsigned; lot 42: large desk bell with handle, signed C.G with London hallmarks for 1888; lot 43: small silver bell pendant, unsigned. The inscription is spelt correctly on the large desk bell. (J. Rudoe 4.12.06)
- On display (G47/dc11)
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: HG.129 (masterlist number)