Wallace Sleigh Bells

by | Dec 15, 2017 | All Things Home, Decorating, Holiday | 76 comments

My Oma was an avid collector.  It was just in her nature and she didn’t fight it.  After she passed away, it was almost overwhelming dealing with all of the stuff.  Thousands of swizzle sticks and postcards, and five gallon buckets in a row, filled to the brim with seashells collected on the North Carolina shore over the years.  She collected cookbooks, Royal Copenhagen Christmas plates, campaign buttons, silver dollars and dimes, souvenir spoons, alabaster fruit, Stieff Repousse silverware and serving pieces, and Hummels.  That list maybe scratches the surface.

She also collected Wallace Sleigh Bells.

She bought one every year from the time they started making them in 1971.  As we were sorting through her attic, we came across the sleigh bells and divided them between her children and grandchildren, so I brought home four of them.  I selected my birth year, Jeff’s birth year, and two random years from the 1980’s.  I hung them on my tree each year and didn’t think of them much beyond liking them.

Then, some delightfully old fashioned woman, gave me one as a gift marking my oldest son’s first Christmas.  It is the bell from his birth year and has his initials engraved in it.  And she gave me another one for my youngest son’s first Christmas.

These gifts made me realize how much I love them.  They have a classically simple design and the prettiest ring.

So, the following year, I added the newest Wallace sleigh bell to my Christmas list to continue to grow my small collection and I’ve been getting one every year since.

And, each year, I’ll browse Etsy and eBay and look for bells from past years that are reasonably priced ($15 or less).  This year, I was able to find a bunch and I now have 23 out of 47 bells.

I don’t feel like I have to have them all, but it is fun to hunt for them and to watch the collection grow on my tree each year.  One day, I’ll have a tree full of sleigh bells.

(As an aside, do you realize how hard it is to photograph a very reflective silver bell?  You can see my plaid jammie pants in just about every shot!)

Anyway, I’m not very sentimental when it comes to things, but these ornaments are a connection to my Oma and I love that I’m carrying on her tradition.

I think she would’ve liked that.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

76 Comments

  1. Susan

    Keeping it real. Jammie pants for the win! 🙂

    Reply
  2. Chris j

    My daughter has a collection of Wallace Bells that her Grandma started and I have taken over. This year she is getting her 40’th bell!

    Reply
  3. Laura

    How fun to continue the tradition! Hallmark released a sleigh bell series of ornaments the year my daughter was born, so those are our “family” series. I love how classic the sleigh bells are!

    Reply
  4. Darcy Sexson

    Those are so pretty! Now I want to start a collection. 😉

    Reply
  5. Sue Pagels

    Lovely! (and the jammies too!) You also make me want to start collecting them and I am already right up there with your Oma on collections!

    Reply
  6. Kelle Sawers

    When I was a child my aunt gave my sister and I one of these bells every year. Then, as my three children were born, my grandmother started giving them silver bells as well. We now have a collection, from three different companies that covers two 7′ ornamental trees in nothing but silver. My oldest daughter is getting married this spring, so I will attempt to sort hers out as I pack up this year. That way that the tradition can continue in a new house. I love them so much and think they are such a lovely gift.

    Reply
  7. Deanna Rabe

    I think these would be marvelous on a Christmas Tree! I use silver on my tree every year (with red and white) and these would be a gorgeous addition. I’ll have to consider this!

    Reply
  8. Laura m Cates

    Every day we learn something new. I had never learned about Wallace Sleigh bells before. They are beautiful. She sound like my Mimi who collected all manner of antiques and collectibles. It is like a treasure trove. Thank you for sharing this post.

    Laura

    Reply
  9. Karen L.

    I had never heard of them before but love the idea. They look beautiful, too. We have a new grandchild which may be fun to start a new tradition with giving him one each year. (cute jammie pants! guess if you didn’t like the reflection you could wear one of your solid light-colored linen dresses which wouldn’t show much in the bell. ) Thanks, Marian, for a great idea! Love that they’re American made as well.

    Reply
  10. Arbie Goodfellow

    I have never seen or heard of these bells before.

    So interesting and for some crazy reason… I want a few too!

    Thank-You for sharing and LOVE your blog!!

    Merry Christmas!

    Reply
  11. mary m

    Where are they made? My daughter in law was a Wallace and it would be cool to start a Christmas tradition for her. I have never seen or heard of them before. Last week I was visiting our local antique store and they had a long long long strap with bells. It came from a sleigh. Pretty cool.

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      They are made in the US by the Wallace Silversmith Co. They are made of silver plate.

      Reply
  12. Sheila

    Oh your Oma was a woman after my own heart. I love silver and those bells are so beautiful! What a wonderful tradition to continue on. Something to look forward to passing along when your boys have their own families. I can hear their sweet ring now. Merry Christmas to you and your whole family, Marian!

    Reply
  13. Deej

    Another online auction you can check-out is Goodwill! They have 3! Merry Christmas!

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      Oh! I didn’t even think of looking there. Good idea!

      Reply
  14. Vicki Carver

    I tend to be a collector of “things” too and dang it, now you’ve made me want to collect Wallace sleigh bells! *eye roll*

    Reply
  15. Leslie

    Very sweet. Love those sleigh bells!

    Reply
  16. Mildred

    Oh Marian, these bells are AWESOME!!! I have been unaware of their existence until reading your post. I’m a collector, so now I have something new to hunt for. Surely you don’t pack them away once Christmas has passed. They are so gorgeous.
    Wishing you a Merry Merry.

    Reply
  17. Kay

    We started the Wallace sleigh bells for our now 31 year old daughter when she was very young. The sleigh bell continues to be our yearly Christmas ornament to her. She looks forward to receiving the ornament. We also started the White House ornaments for our grandson. Both are nice, dated collectibles take littlle storage space.
    Hope you have a joyful Christmas.

    Reply
  18. Shelly

    Such a sweet thing! Your son’s will so appreciate it when they get older! This is what Christmas is about, tradition, love, and memories.
    Blessings

    Reply
  19. Lisa

    They’re beautiful Marian. You brought a tear to my eye. I know you’re right, your Oma would love it. Merry Christmas!

    Reply
  20. carole

    i would love to know more…. they are so beautiful. i did a search but all i could find was links to amazon,ebay etc. what is the story behind them and is the wallace company the same as the silverware company? where do these originate? thanx

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      Yes! They are made by the Wallace Silversmith Co. and they release a new design each year. The bells are the same size and shape, but the border is different and they are dated. As I shared, you can also have them engraved with initials or personal messages.

      Reply
  21. Maggie

    How did I not know about these???
    I will now try to find all the birth years of my children, their spouses, and their children, too.
    What a lovely Oma you had!
    Merry Christmas to you and your family and many thanks for your lovely posts all throughout the year.

    Reply
  22. Jeanne

    What a lovely tradition and a wonderful idea.

    Reply
  23. Tracy

    Some years (maybe all?) also come in sterling silver.

    Reply
  24. Rosanna

    I’m sure she would love it!!We all need to appreciate the older people in our lives,they can add so much depth!!I appreciate you sharing this story,and the photos!!!I’ve never heard of these-but they are gorgeous!!

    Reply
  25. Kim

    She would have loved it. I know I’m your Mom and her daughter. Makes me miss her so much. So fun you love them.

    Reply
  26. Jeannie

    I hadn’t heard of these bells. They are really pretty. I’ve gotten Hallmark ornaments yearly for my kids & also annual Wendell August aluminum dated ornaments . Wendell August is in Grove City, PA. And I have all the ornaments from my parents first Christmas…all fragile glass. My sons can tell you all about their ornaments & where they are supposed to be hung on the tree…some have specific places. It’s so sweet to have all these precious things. Brings back such wonderful memories.

    Reply
  27. DeAnna

    I love your tradition with these bells. I’ve been collecting the annual snowflakes from Swarovski each year in honor of my maiden name “Snow”.

    Reply
  28. Nancy Lindblom

    Dear Marion,
    The Wallace Bells are just beautiful. I was unaware of them until you wrote your post. Thank you for giving new ideas and sharing traditions with everyone. What a lovely remembrance of your Oma.
    Merry Christmas!
    Nancy in Arizona

    Reply
  29. Shelly Fuller

    I can’t believe I’ve never heard of these sleigh bells. It could be due to my being from the south where there is hardly any snow of any sort. You’ve inspired me to begin collecting them. I believe I’ll begin with the birth years of my children and grand daughter. I love the idea and perhaps when I pass my children will take their own and carry on the tradition. Thank you so much for your posts! No matter how very busy I am, they are always well-worth reading. 🙂

    Reply
  30. Dorothy

    We were married in 1978 so that bell caught my eye right away!! I have collectible ornaments but nothing as lovely as these bells. I also had never heard of them. Our first grandchild is on the way and I believe this will be her yearly ornament. Lovely post.

    Reply
  31. karen cameron

    If I could leave a picture comment, I’d show you that my tree is entirely Wallace bells this year! My mother in law started giving us one each year since we were married in 89. I typically mix them in with my sentimental ornaments, but this year I decided to devote the entire tree to them. She started giving my daughter’s a ding ding bell (I know there’s a better name for it, but for the life of me…) each year for the past 10 years. My oldest now has a home if her own, and her collection moved with her, but I still get to enjoy my youngest daughter’s collection!

    Reply
  32. Sandi Graham

    As I decorate the tree each Christmas I unwrap so many memories as trim our trees. Antique ornaments and collectibles. Small frames with photos of family members that have passed on to celebrate Christmas in heaven.
    Merry Christmas to such an inspirational gal, Miriam. Love all the new house decor.

    Reply
  33. Marlene Stephenson

    They are beautiful, and thanks for sharing this wonderful memory.

    Reply
  34. Norma Rolader

    Beautiful tradition and thank you for sharing

    Reply
  35. Ellen Shook

    This brought back a fond memory of a late aunt who collected these. She did not hang them on a tree, but rather from red velvet ribbons which I suppose were held up by a tack in the french door opening between her entry hall and dining room. They always sparkled so beautifully in the candle light and tree lights. She passed quite a few years ago, and I have no idea what happened to her silver bells.

    Reply
  36. Jody K

    Jeez, thanks Marian! Now I’ll be obsessed until i have one for each member of the family…

    Reply
  37. B. Folk

    Too funny, I didn’t even notice the jammie pants when I was looking at the beautiful bells the first time! Nice tradition.

    I keep (most of) the cards from Christmases past that have more than just “Merry Christmas” written in them. Also keep old letters. I like to pull them out once in awhile and read whatever news they wrote. It helps make me sound like I have a great memory when I call far-flung friends and relatives:)

    Reply
  38. Cheryl

    That is a wonderful tradition and I would never have known your bells showing your reflection until you mentioned it, lol.

    Reply
  39. SusanIreneB

    Marian, we have 42 bells – one for each year we’ve been married. My husband’s uncle owned a fine china store and started giving them to us at Christmas and we’ve kept the tradition. We just finished putting them all on our tree this afternoon and it is getting pretty crowded! I give them as wedding gifts.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      How do you clean yours as they tarnish? Also, do you store them back in their box, or some other way? We have 25-30, and some years I only pull maybe half of them out because I don’t want to unpack all of them. Thanks!

      Reply
      • Marian Parsons

        Yep, I store them in their bags (the ones that have them) or tissue and plastic and then in their boxes. A few of mine don’t have the boxes, but most of them do. I polish them with regular silver polish. I prefer the Goddard’s Silver Foam and the dip for really tough tarnish.

        Reply
  40. Louise

    What a great thing to collect. Beautiful with great memories. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  41. Lisa

    My uncle, Wallace, gave my two girls (and all of my nieces and nephews) a Wallace Silversmith bell every Christmas until he passed away. I didn’t continue the collection after he was gone, but I do love the bells on our tree. We have around 25-30 bells. Do you clean yours as they tarnish, and how is the best way to clean them? Love this post:)

    Reply
  42. maureen hughes

    Oh, no, Marion, I have a small collection: our wedding year 1970, my 3 children’s birth years, and our two young grandsons birth years. Now I will have a lot of competition buying them. LOL

    Reply
    • maureen hughes

      Woops, I meant wedding year, 1974…

      Reply
  43. Sara

    So fun to see you collect these too! My mom has bought me one since the year I was born and the first year they were made, 1971. Love hanging them on my tree!

    Reply
  44. Ramona

    I love the bells!

    Reply
  45. Kathryn

    My mom gave my daughter a silver bell every year since her birth. My mom is gone now but those bells are still an important part of our holiday decoration. We miss her but smile when we look at those shiny bells, well after I clean them with silver polish. 😉

    Reply
  46. Dianne

    Like many others, I too had not heard of these bells. But now we all want them!

    Reply
  47. Linda

    I’ve never heard of the Wallace Sleigh Bells but they are so beautiful! I think I’ll have to check out ebay now to try and buy one from the 80’s since so many wonderful events happened for my family during that decade!. Thanks for sharing them with us Marian.

    Reply
  48. Miss Mustard Seed

    Yes, but they are expensive! Understandably, but I’ll take the silver plated. 😉

    Reply
  49. Cindy D

    Love your posts….especially of the silver bells reflection of you. 😉 So glad I found you. Everytime I read your endearing blogs, I lean my head on my hand with a smile as I scroll. Thank you for putting a smile on my face.

    Reply
  50. Betsy

    Thank you so much for posting this. I worked in the china department for John Wanamaker’s store, now long gone. When these bells would arrive we knew the holidays were coming. I was a single parent and couldn’t buy any extras but just seeing them gave me such pleasure. Your story is beautiful and heartwarming.

    Reply
  51. Karen

    Love this! Now I want to have a collection. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story 😀

    Reply
  52. Nancy

    My mother in law started my boys on these beautiful bells when they were born til they were ten. They are so beautiful on the tree. Some years I put red or gold ribbon bows on them. Now that they are grown up I’ve passed them on to them for their trees and have started a collection for my grandson.

    Reply
  53. Dorothy

    This is now on my bucket list. I wish they went back to 1922, my father’s birth year. He was the horse whisperer of his family back in the days of real horsepower. We just lost him this fall, at 95. It would be a wonderful remembrance, also because there was a sleigh-bell poem in his repertoire that popped up now and then. Can you tell I am sentimental? 🙂

    Reply
  54. Pearl

    I’ve never heard of them before?! But… now I have to keep my eyes open for them, since they are so pretty!

    Reply
  55. Wendy Bayer

    They would make a gorgeous fireplace garland as well, that you could add on to each year.

    Reply
  56. Pam

    I have a small collection that I started at a flea market several years ago. I got a dozen of the bells for .50 each. A real steal! I put them on a garland around my door. While I am always looking for more, I will never find them for the price I first found them. The sound that they make is amazing!!

    Reply
  57. Jen Plummer

    Marian,
    I have a feeling I know who the “delightfully old fashioned woman” was, probably because I have two on my tree from her as well. I wish I could afford to keep that tradition alive with the newest member of our family.
    Love from Indiana 🙂
    Jen

    Reply
  58. Jacquie

    Wow, I love the looks of these, including the plaid jammies!😉! I had not heard of them till now. What a wonderful tradition or collection to start!

    Reply
  59. Rebecca Neustel

    I wish they went back years, too. I need 1957, 1959, 1989 and 2008. I’ve never seen these, and I fear they’ll be in short supply, now! 😉

    Reply
  60. Kristin

    Hi M – do you get the silver plated or the silver bells? I’m just wondering about the silver plated – I assume they wouldn’t last ? Or do they?
    Merry Christmas

    Reply
  61. Millicent

    Marian, I have some of these bells. My collection started when I married in 1979. I began collecting a silver ornament each year. Mine are all kinds, but they do include several of the bells. I do love the bells. Now, I only use the silver ornaments each year, and I love the look. It may not be brimming with ornaments and embellishments, but they all mean something to me which is more important. Happy New Year!

    Reply
  62. Jessica | Petal + Ply

    The bells are gorgeous! Hoe sweet to have one to commemorate both of your sons’ births. My grandmother gave us each an engraved silver cup when we were born and I always thought that was so special.

    Reply
  63. Judy Simons-Gerstley

    I started my Wallace Sleigh Bell collection in 1988, the year my dear father died (“every time you hear a bell ring, an angel gets it’s wings”) It is also the year my daughter was born – so there is a dual meaning …
    I only missed one year, 2001 – in attempt to replace it I found & bought one on Ebay but the post office put it in the wrong P.O. box and even though tracking says it was delivered – I never received it… I love how beautiful they look on my tree – I have a white artificial tree that I call the “fairy tree” – which I decorate with fairies, butterflies and other pastel ornaments and magical things. it is simply beautiful – I have also used the same bells on a natural evergreen that I decorate more traditionally. They really look beautiful any way I have used them. Someday, my daughter will inherit them. I keep them in the little bags that Wallace started including I believe around 1994, even though I did save all the presentation boxes. I am looking for some replacement anti tarnish tissues to help keep them glistening and beautiful and have purchased some drawstring pouches for the bells that didn’t come with one.

    Reply
  64. Patricia

    I was given 4 silver bells but they are all missing the silver round hooks at the top. Any ideas how I can get hook so I can hang the bells?

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      I think I would just thread a ribbon or piece of twine where the ring goes. You could also make a ring out of a piece of thick silver wire from the jewelry-making section of the craft store.

      Reply
  65. Tricia Shaw

    I know this is an older post. But am curious, were your bells silver or silver plated? I am wondering if the silver plated will last a long time? Thank you for any help.

    Reply
  66. Charlotte

    I have never heard of them until I saw this post… and I fell in love with them. So I’m slowly adding to my collection (of two, lol) by picking them up every so often. I didn’t grow up with many Christmas traditions except baking cookies with my aunt, who I’m close to. My husband on the other hand, he and his brother have 37 & 34 years worth (respectively) of US Mint Coins that were given to them every Christmas since they were born. A tradition started by their mother’s parents who still, to this day, give their adult children a US Mint Coin collection for that year and have done so since THEY were born. I think that’s why I fell in love with these is because of the symbol of tradition and they’re so lovely and classic and when we have children, I want to get a bell for every year for them (and we’ll do the US Mint Coins as well) and maybe that’ll be passed on to their children… Thank you for sharing this beautiful story.

    Reply
  67. Rene' Lesur

    I bought a Wallace sleigh bell for my goddaughter for her first Christmas. She has received a Wallace bell as a Christmas gift every year since. She has about 24 of them now. The idea is for her to have a tree full of sleigh bells when she has a house and Christmas tree of her own. Such a nice tradition.

    Reply
  68. Susan

    So funny….and maybe a “God thing”! I read this post last night and must admit I’ve never heard of Wallace sleigh bells, but they really are pretty! Today, I shopped my favorite Raleigh thrift store and as I was walking to the register with a basket full of goodies, I noticed a silver bell on the floor. Immediately, I recognized the pattern of the cuts on the bottom and picked it up. It is indeed a Wallace sleigh bell, vintage 1988! Not sure if it’s silver or just plated ( how do I tell?) but at just $1, it doesn’t matter….either way a treasure! Never would have caught my eye had I not just read your post!

    Reply

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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…

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