Brass bell cast in Europe in 1650

Contributed by David Pearce

Brass bell cast in Europe in 1650

This bell was brought to England by my great-uncle, a British army officer. The plaque beneath the bell reads "Found in a fetish house in Coomassie during the Ashanti Expedition 1895-6". I imagine the bell was used by the fetish priest, whether to call the faithful or as an object of worship I couldn't say and I suspect "found" should read "stolen from".
I don't know for how long the bell had been in Kumasi. It has an inscription: "Amor vincit omnia Ao 1650". My internet research threw up two interesting citings. In 1997 a bell inscribed "Amor vincit omnia Ao 1625" was found off Galle in the wreck of a Dutch ship that sank in 1661. A 1975 article in 'African Arts' describes a stool in Upper Volta with two brass bells, one inscribed "Amor vincit omnia AD 1650". From these references I assume the bells were not that rare. Most of the history of the bell is unknown to me (where was it made? how and when did it get to Africa?) but it is good evidence of European trade expansion in the 17th century and of British colonial adventures in the 19th century.
Today this bell, inherited from my grandmother 30 years ago, hangs in our hallway and we use it to summon people to meals.

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  • 1. At 20:16 on 17 September 2012, Michael wrote:

    Dear Author,

    I'm Michael Bediako. My great grandfather was the King of Akropong Akwapim, Ghana. I live in The Netherlands where I have studied law and now working in Intellectual property. Being a royal I go to Ghana yearly to partake in our annual odwira festival. For years, one particular bell has fascinated me. Traditionally when a king dies, a traditional stole is curved on his behalf with two brass bells with inscriptions of his name on it. We the Akropongs, came for the Ashanti Akyem region to the mountains of the Akwapim because of persistant wars with the Ashanti Kingdom. We came with stools of dead kings as well. Surprisingly one brass bell (the twin of yours) on the oldest stool is missing. It has the inscription "Amor vincit omnia AD 1650". Your information interest me because,the bells match in inscription and look, as well as seem to have the same origin in the Ashanti region. Would you mind us sharing more information on the bells, in view of uniting them in the Palace of the King of Akropong Akuapem. You can reply to [Personal details removed by Moderator]

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  • 2. At 15:12 on 5 December 2012, David Pearce wrote:

    Hi Michael. What you write is fascinating and I would be happy to share everything I know about this bell but I don't know how to get in touch with you. I live in Bristol and my email is [Personal details removed by Moderator] I look forward to hearing. Best wishes David Pearce.

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  • 3. At 22:53 on 8 January 2013, Michael wrote:

    David your reply is most wonderful. I see its not possible to share email contacts via this medium, why don't we try Facebook. Kindly look up the my name " Michael Asare Bediako", City is Helmond, Netherlands. My profile picture is a Black and white picture. I'm wearing a white shirt and sunglasses. David we have lots of history to share. I can't wait to start. i think i have some interesting pictures to start with. hoping to hearing from you soon.

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