The bells! The bells!

Vintagebrassshipbell sankoamaryllis

We’ve a new shipment of vintage lighting and maritime collectibles arriving soon. Including a couple of beauties…

Here in Fowey, there are​ ​horns sounding and bells ringing and yacht-​race guns firing, and swifts​, jackdaws​ and seagulls calling, as a constant audible reminder that we are coastal. The church ​​​bells sound here every hour, even through the night.

“That’s not a light”, said one little boy pointing to a bell in the shop. While we specialise in lighting and have some fantastic creations always in the belly of our building, we are by the sea so other nautical finds wind their way here to remind us all of this.

T​o purchase a ship’s bell from us, is to really take home the voice of the sea. If you browse through our maritime antiques and nautical curios, you might find vintage nautical bells, ships’ wheels, a compass rolling in a brass case, anchors, wind anemometers, clocks – always clocks. All from formerly ocean-going ships just like the bell (pictured) from the Sanko Amaryllis.

The telegraph bells in the shop are high and insistent, as if they really are saying – ‘OY engine room, engine room, we need to go faster, faster!’ – which is what the telegraphs did on ships. Beautiful objects, always admired on the shop floor.

Bells have voices that touch us in different ways​. ​​T​he ship’s bell we’ve attached to one shop wall has a slow, low clang. The sort you imagine hearing through mist on the sea in a black and white film. I actually love it when visitors ring that bell; its sound is very rewarding.

And soon it will have two larger companions,​ because we have beautiful new sounds for the shop arriving – two bells, as yet I haven’t heard speak. Will they be sea misty, or bossy, or simply suggest a good time for dinner?  I will no doubt be affording it a personality when I do hear it.

It’s from a huge ship called the SANKO AMARYLLIS built in Tokyo.  A ship that has had many names in the past, like some kind of spy, although her job is only listed as a bulk carrier, she has also been called: Lord Nelson, Aquadance, Nemtas, Telina, Amaryllis and, originally, Sanko Amaryllis.

​Yet our bell will have kept a constant voice throughout these nautical changes of persona.  We talk about the wonderful sights of the coast, but not as often about its sounds, which are every bit as​ evocative​.

I’m reminded of last paragraph of a Thomas Hardy poem about the mythical land of Lyonnesse​ off the coast of Cornwall,​ mysteriously pulled into the sea from where​, so they say​, even today​, the bells of the church can be heard ringing from the ​deepest fathoms​:

When I came back from Lyonnesse
With magic in my eyes,
All marked with mute surmise
My radiance rare and fathomless,
When I came back from Lyonnesse
With magic in my eyes!

Check out the new Incoming section on our homepage (not visible on phones), which features other vintage treasures shortly to arrive at the shores of Any Old Lights.

Another guest post by TJ

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