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Ship's beland clapper from NEW YORK PACKET

Date: 1823
Overall: 310 x 320 x 320 mm, 24800 g
Medium: Copper alloy
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Vessels and fittings
Object Name: Bell
Object No: V00009497

User Terms

    Bells have a long traditional association with ships and the sea. 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.
    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 PACKETT 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.

    Bells have a long maritime tradition and spiritual association with ships and examples have been found on shipwrecks from the early 1400s. 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.

    As prior to the 20th century few sailors would have had access to durable time pieces, the chiming of the ship's bell was especially important for the discipline on board ship, the routine of the crew and the sailing and navigating of the vessel. On board ship the day is divided into six watches, the Middle Watch (0000-0400), the Morning Watch (0400 - 0800), the Forenoon Watch (0800 - 1200), the Afternoon Watch (1200 - 1600), the First Dogwatch (1600-1800), the Second Dogwatch (1800-2000) and the First Watch (2000 - 0000). The passage of time in each Watch is marked by the ringing of the bell every 30 minutes with one bell marking the end of the first half hour and eight bells marking the end of the Watch. In order to prevent the same crew members having the same watch, and to allow for the feeding of the crew at a reasonable hour, the Watch between 1600 and 2000 was divided into two. Sailors when reporting time on board ship traditionally refer to one to eight bells in a particular Watch.

    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.

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