Posted by Warner Pet Products on 5th Oct 2020

History of Brass Sleigh Bells

(some samples of our handmade brass sleigh bells)

Everyone is familiar with the classic sleigh bells. The classic jingle sound is bound to draw up feelings of nostalgia, whether it is just for last years Christmas or perhaps one from 20 years ago! No matter where during the holiday season - you are bound to see or hear jingle bells one way or another! Maybe it will be on the radio, or you'll see someone with an ugly sweater that has some sleigh bells on it.  

History of Brass Horse Bells

It may seem like a long time ago, but until 100 years ago - Horses and horse drawn vehicles were the means of transportation for people, their families, and their businesses. When walking down the street in 1915, it would normal for you to see none, if any, motor vehicles on the road.  And even before then, horses were the primary means of transportation for thousands of years! 

History shows that people were decorating their horses with many different types of ornamentation - including bells - for a long time. Most people think that the decorations were to show wealth and power of the owner.  The fancier and more intricate the decoration of a horse and/or its carriage, the higher the status of the owner of that particular animal.  People are much the same these days - some people will like to show off fancy cars as a status symbol. It was like this as long as 2,000 to 2,500 years ago! Horses, and their decorations, were definitely a status symbol.  

(horses with bells and dress up ornaments)

But horse bells weren't just for decoration - they served another important purpose as well.  The bells attached to the horse bridals or harnesses made a constant sound (the one we are familiar with) to warn pedestrians and bystanders of (horse) traffic that was coming!  In addition to giving a heads-up to pedestrians, the sounds of horse bells informed people as to when certain vendors were in the area - kind of like an ice-cream truck jingle. 

Why are they called "Sleigh Bells"?

History shows that up until the 1800s, brass bells were popular and widely used. But, they would eventually grow to be a notable part of popular culture in just a few years.  Records show that production of bells grew enormously in the 1800s. But why?  

The short answer is that the popularity of winter recreation grew! In other words, people started to spend more time outside during the winter season. As a result, people wanted to see others and be seen while out and about. 

People would dress themselves fashionably, but it went further than that! People would dress up their horses by grooming them and using stylish harnesses to make their appearance more elegant. And of course, the addition of well-polished brass bells on the sleighs would finish off the festive holiday look (and sound!)

When people were out and about doing Christmas-themed winter activities, nearly all the horses and sleighs would have these loud, bright, and beautiful bells adorning them!  Naturally, people began calling them "sleigh bells" and the association with Christmas and the holiday season would grow!

We all know the song "Jingle Bells" - did you know it was originally written in 1857?

Sleigh Bells as Home Decoration

By the 1930s, horses and horse drawn vehicles were no more the most common form of transportation.  Cars were affordable and common, and main streets across the USA would have cars driving back and forth - similar to today.  Horses were no longer the go-to for daily transportation needs for the mainstream. By this point, sleigh bells were already rooted in popular culture - regardless of whether people preferred horses or cars for their transportation needs.  

These days, sleigh bells are a common choice for home decor when it comes to the holiday season.  Whether you want to adorn your Christmas tree, or attach some leather strap hanging bells to your door.   Anytime you see a horse carriage during the season - take a listen! You are bound to see and hear the sleigh bells adoring the carriage.  

Brass sleigh bells are bound to get you in the mood for Christmas - so be sure to get some that suit your style and purposes. 

Warner Brass Bell Collection

Here at Warner Pet, we source our brass and silver bells from quality suppliers in the USA. And we only use the best materials for the leather and other materials we attach our bells to. 

We make bear bells for dog collars that serve to keep bears away from your dogs.  We have decorative door hangers in the shapes of cats, dogs, Christmas trees, and other shapes!  Our favorite sleigh bell item is the hanging leather strap bells, which we love to hang on the doors to entry ways during the holidays. 

Sleigh bells are simply one of the best, and easiest ways to add the holiday feel to any space you want!   We hope you're looking forward to Christmas 2020 as much as we are!