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National Museum of Australia

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Handbell component

Object information

Physical description

A metal handbell clapper, with an elongated section terminating in a ball at one end. The ball has a threaded hole through its centre, and line designs on the surface. The elongated section has a hole at the alternate end and is marked with dabs of yellow and green paint.

Statement of significance

The Jennifer Anne Murphy collection consists of handbells that belonged to the Lynch family bellringers, miscellaneous spare bell parts, and a publicity poster. The Whitechapel Bell Foundry of London manufactured the handbells in 1910 and they remain in good condition. FW Niven & Co. of Melbourne printed the poster c.1915-1917. It features photographs of the Lynch family and their guest performers and is in a good condition.

The Lynch family were travelling entertainers from Geelong, Victoria, who played handbells and organ chimes as part of their variety act, which also featured comedy routines, dancing, singing and piano recitals. They were the first family of bellringers to become household names in Australia, and they achieved great fame overseas touring in New Zealand, India, China and Japan. Developments in transport allowed them to reach diverse audiences. The family's impressive career of 72 years ended during the economic depression of the 1930s. The vaudeville performances of Australian troupes, such as the Lynch family, are an example of Australian popular culture and entertainment from the late 19th century to the interwar period.

Object information

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