Friday, April 1, 2011

The Town Crier Bell Cocktail Shaker

Well it has been a while since I have put up a new post.  After moving to Tucson and getting a new job my life has been rather hectic and I have been remiss in my updates.  So now I am going to try to get back on track.  So here we go...
Just the other day a friend of mine and fellow "Cocktailian" *Philip Greene asked me about the origin of the Bell Cocktail Shaker.  As I actually own several of these I realized that I had never really studied the origin.  Well it was a good excuse to do some research. Then after doing that, I thought it would also make a good blog post. 
Being one of the more fun styles of shaker it was advertised using the catch phrase "Ringing in Good Times".  I can not argue with that!  I feel that one of the most fun aspects of the shaker is, when empty, they do actually ring like a bell.  Unfortunately many of you may find that they have lost their clappers and are now a silent reminder of past fun times.  (The clapper can be replaced)
So on to the shakers history...
The patent, Above is for the most common form of the bell shaken. The "Town Crier Bell Shaker" was patented in 1937 by Bruce De Montmorency for the National Silver Deposit Ware Co.  There are at least six different Bell Shakers that I found in my research.  I know one was made by the Keystone Silver Co.  It is one of the few that has any markings and is the one with the pour spout on the body of the bell.  That shaker is pictured here on the left.  I am sure that the most common Town Crier was made by National Silver.  There is a silver plated version with a wooden handle from England and also a silver played version from Scotland with a silver plated handle made by Edwards & Sons Glasgow. There is also a version made by the Asprey Co. of England that also has silver plated handle and is very similar to the Scottish version.  The last that I am now trying to attribute to some one is the version that has a sort of valve mechanism at the end of the handle that is twisted to open an close for dispensing.  It is also the version that is most commonly seen with the bell shaped cups.  Cherub Antiques says that it is a mid 50's design but I do not know how they conclude that. All of the other bell shakers were originally made in the thirties.
So here I am after an exhausting hour and a half of research to be stumped by one little shaker.
So if anyone out there can shine some light on this shaker I will gladly give credit and toast you with a cocktail "Rang Up" in one of these vintage shakers.

Oh by the way...I will be at Tales of the Cocktail again this year on the panel moderated by Dale Degroff for the seminar Cool Bar Tools, Past, Present and Future.  This event will be held at the Museum of the American Cocktail July 20th from 3pm to 4:30pm. After the Seminar, Mark Bigler of Cocktail , a couple of other collectors and of coarse myself will be holding a sort of Vintage Bar Ware Roadshow where we will appraise your vintage shakers and bar tools. Hope to see you there and for more info check out the link above.
*Philip Greene is a freelance writer, historian and consultant, is a founding member of the Museum of the American Cocktail, for which he also serves as treasurer and legal counsel. Philip is a descendant of the Peychaud family of New Orleans, and among his ancestors was Antoine Peychaud, the 19th century pharmacist who created Peychaud's Bitters and New Orleans' classic cocktail, the Sazerac.


Timmer said...

Hello, my name is Timothy Stevens. I am the guild president down in San Diego. I just purchased a Town Crier at a antique mall in Florida, on my way back from Europe. The funny thing is mine is copper with wooden handle and side spout. No marking on it but the old man told me it was from 1910. I seriously doubt this but he was charming and I really wanted to have it in my home. I cannot find ANYTHING about this style of bell. Hoping I didn't get hosed but love it none the less.
Also found a rooster shaker, not the WB but nice replica.
Love to see what you know!
Hope tails was fun, we will probably meet some time. I will shake a bell for you.

Better Days Timothy

Gary Darrar said...

Vintage 1937 Town Crier' s bell chrome cocktail shaker.

These are American cocktail shakers - known as the Town Crier Bell Shaker, made by Keystonware. They were first advertised for sale in December 1937 in House and Garden magazine just in time for Christmas. "To a merry host or hostess send this newest cocktail shaker". There is a bell underneath (M2003) that works when it is empty so just ring for another drink! They measure 11.5 inches (30cm) high. In very good vintage condition.

Ref: M2002 & M2003 . . . $200. each

Vintage 1937 Town Crier' s bell chrome cocktail shaker.

Up for auction is this vintage 1937 Town Crier's Bell Cocktail shaker which was advertised in the December 1937 issue of House and Garden, just in time for the holidays. Town Crier handled like a dinner bell, inviting folks to "come and get it" It holds 28 ounces and pours unspillingly from the top. This shaker has a clapper inside and can ring like a dinner bell when empty. It is chrome with a walnut handle and measures approximately 10 3/8's in height. This shaker is featured on page 117 of Stephen Visakay's Vintage Bar Ware, Identification and Value guide which was written in 1997. This shaker was valued (in 1997) between $150.00 - $195.00.