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Starting a bell collection

Bell collectors need guidelines, and collector Ethel Duesselmann of Ascutney, Vt., shares these:

Avoid the pitfall of collecting indiscriminately by gaining some knowledge first. Learn early how to be selective. Never buy just to increase your number but only according to the desirability and personality of the bell.

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Develop a questioning attitude when buying from dealers. Be informed about the kinds of bells that intrigue you. Do some research and read all you can about them.

Learn to differentiate between old and new bells. When you go to auctions, set a price ceiling for yourself, so you don't overspend. Keep in mind that the supply of old bells is diminishing and increasing in price and that copies are now appearing on the market. Learn how to tell the difference.

If you are starting to collect new bells, specialize in one type. This will keep you from overbuying.

For a collection to be meaningful and beautiful, it must be properly displayed with a sense of taste and appropriateness. A true collector separates and groups bells according to category. He does not jumble them together, with no thought as to their differences.

Glass and porcelain bells deserve a special spot because their delicate lines do not harmonize with heavy metal bells. Ideally, they should be in a lighted cabinet or in a window so sunlight will help show them off.

If you collect sleigh and cow bells, place them where people who come into the house can ring them. Use your small bells to announce friends or dinner. If you have a large farm or railroad bell, mount it attractively and place it in the garden or patio.

Keep serious records of your bells and their costs, and include thorough descriptions of them and when and where you bought them.

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