This Saturday, Provenance Auction House of Cape Town will sell the first instalment of an extraordinary collection of 300 bells formed by the late Keith Blumgart.
The 300 bells in the first sale
on July 28, include a wide selection from
all over Africa, including wooden camel bells from Somalia, bronze
bells from Benin and square-section Yoruba bells from the Congo
There are also bell-inspired works of
art specially commissioned from prominent South African artists
such as Robert Slingsby, Conrad Thys, David Reade and Guy Du Toit.
The most valuable are likely to be examples from the Far East, with
a large Archaic Chinese bell among the highlights.
Mr Blumgart began collecting seriously
in 1986 with a core of six bells that he and his wife had
accumulated over the years. From this small beginning he developed
a passion that became an obsession from 1994 when he retired and
started travelling widely, buying bells wherever he went and
engaging agents to seek out exotic and unusual examples, so that
new additions would arrive almost daily.
Among the 4000 bells that are his
legacy are a number of historic items to be included in future
sales, like the dinner bell used on the White Train when the Queen
first travelled to South Africa, or the bell used to start the
first horse race at Gosforth Park in Johannesburg.
He was also interested in the
practical applications of bells. Some, like a bell from an original
Alexander Graham Bell telephone, have obvious significance. Others
might go unnoticed by those who have not developed an eye (or ear)
for such things, such as bells from typewriters, pinball machines,
alarm clocks and one-armed bandits.