Wallace Sleigh Bells

Marian ParsonsHoliday70 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.

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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.

Wallace Sleigh Bells

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70 Comments on “Wallace Sleigh Bells”

  1. 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!

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. 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*

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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

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

  16. 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

    1. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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!!

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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”.

  22. 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

  23. 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. 🙂

  24. 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.

  25. 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!

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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:)

  29. 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.

    1. 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!

      1. 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.

  30. 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:)

  31. 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

  32. 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!

  33. 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. 😉

  34. 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.

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

  38. 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? 🙂

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

  40. 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!!

  41. 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

  42. 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!

  43. 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! 😉

  44. 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

  45. 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!

  46. 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.

  47. 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.

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