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Table bells appeared in the mid-19th century and disappeard at the beginning of the 20th century, when they were replaced by electrical ones. They consist of a metal piece struck by a hammer, and were applied both by the bourgeoisie and hotel staff (occasionally one sees one there). This instrument can be either simplistic (a bell placed on a decorated foot) or more sophisticated. This specimen is from the Maurice Dubois collection in the Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée, Marseille. The foot is round and decorated with a snail, and an open egg shell base. A trunk on the base supports a dome whose top is the head of a wading bird holding in its beak a frog. It is chiseled with tin and partially gilded.


The snail is probably modelled after a Helix-like species, with a dextral shell with strong growth striae. The animal has two and large and (as far visible) two small tentacles.


[1] CEM, inv. 2008.29.88. Joconde | escargot (réponse #205 | 14.vi.2014). http://bit.ly/1i4bSxn.