What Is It? July 2015


Though we had several guesses for our July’s What Is It, no one was able to identify these pretty turtles for what they are.  These are hotel turtle desk bells. Usually brass, when the head or tail is pressed down, a bell rings. These are another example of the many collections of our friends Dixie and Larry Kilborn.

In a reference to these pretty bells, we found this story we thought you would enjoy by Dera L. Johnsen-Tracy: “My grandparents’ home in San Antonio, Texas was beautiful and mysterious, and was also one of the most uncomfortable places for a young child. Surrounded by irreplaceable artwork and collections from around the world, I learned from an early age not to touch anything. The only exceptions to this rule were two brass turtle hotel bells my grandmother kept on her coffee table in the “sitting room.” Each turtle had a wind-up bell mechanism on its underside, and when the turtle’s head or tail was pressed down the bell would ring. As an only child for the first ten years of my life, I recall spending what seemed like hours sitting alone on the floor by my grandmother’s coffee table and playing with these turtle bells while the adults spent time “visiting.” For the same reasons, my oldest daughter eventually developed her own fond appreciation for the same set of turtle bells.

When my grandmother died, the only items I requested from her home were the beloved turtle bells. To my surprise, my request for the turtle bells was initially met with some resistance from those family members who were in charge of the estate. I know this resistance was not due to any poor intentions, but merely due to the incredible stress and emotional turmoil involved with the death of a close family member. In the end, I did end up with the turtle bells. In fact, if you visit my office, you can find one of my turtle bells sitting at the reception desk ready to go in case you require assistance!”

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