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Ship's bell clapper from NEW YORK PACKET

Date: 1823
Overall: 290 x 70 x 69 mm, 2000 g
Medium: Iron
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Tools and equipment
Object Name: Bell clapper
Object No: 00009498

User Terms

    This iron clapper comes from the ship's bell of the British-built three-masted barque NEW YORK PACKET.
    SignificanceShip's bells have an iconic almost spiritual association with ships and the sea. They were the voice of the ship, used to record time, to call the crew to action and sailing stations and the passengers to church services and meal times.
    HistoryThe wooden, three-masted, barque NEW YORK PACKET was built in Bristol, England by Hillhouse, Son and Company in 1823 for Captain John Gregory. The vessel had a length overall of 92' 7", a breadth of 26' 2" and was 269 tons.

    In 1834 the barque, rated 4AE1 by Lloyds, left England for Australia with a general cargo and passengers including Dudley North, Esq., John Giles, James Ritchie and Samuel Mackay in the saloon.

    The barque then spent at least the next 15 years trading between London, Sydney, Hobart, Port Adelaide, Timor and Valparaiso in Chile carrying a diverse range of cargoes including coal, cheese, leather, horses, tobacco, casks of beef and pork, whale boats, timber, whale oil, wine, beer, bone, tallow, live cattle and pigs, wheat, potatoes, sugar, rice, rum, scrap iron and copper, soap, hides, timber and oars. The barque, advertised as having 'excellent' or 'superior' accommodation, also transported passengers including soldiers from the 17th and 28th Regiments of Foot and their families, government officials and transported convicts being sent to Sydney for trial.

    On 17 June 1850 the NEW YORK PACKET arrived in Port Adelaide from London with passengers and mining equipment for the copper mines at Burra. The vessel later departed Port Adelaide for England with 12 passengers, 12 crew and copper ore but had to return to port on 24 August 1850 with five feet of water in the hold. The vessel's departure from Port Adelaide after 1850 has not been located (Shipping Arrivals and Departures in South Australia) and it may be assumed, given the provenance of the bell, that the vessel was broken up there.

    Ship's bells are traditionally cast out of high quality bell metal - a type of bronze that has a 3:1 ratio of copper to tin (78% copper, 22% tin). The high proportion of tin aids in the pureness and tone of the bell when it is struck. They were used to mark the passage of time on board ship, as a fog signal or audible alarm in poor weather, to raise the attention of the crew and to call the passengers and crew to formal services.

    The vessel's name is traditionally cast onto the bell, often with the year the ship was launched and its first port of registry. Occasionally the bell will also carry the name of the shipyard that built the ship. If a ship's name is changed the original bell carrying the original name will usually remain with the vessel.

    Additional Titles

    Web title: Ship's bell clapper from NEW YORK PACKET

    Assigned title: Iron clapper from the ship's bell NEW YORK PACKET

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