Souvenir bell and case. Metal, leather, cloth. Chicago History Museum Collection. X.2320.2004a-b
Souvenir handbell from the Chicago Fire, 1871
Leather case with small metal latch on side, embossed in gold: Souvenir/of/Chicago Great Fire/Oct. 8 - 9 - 1871/made from metal/of/Old Court House Bell. Inside lined with purple satin-like fabric holding bell with long stem. Sticker on top of lid with the following information in pencil: Box # 7/#884/Ryerson Collection
This bell was made from metal salvaged from the Chicago Court House bell following the Chicago Fire of 1871.
This souvenir bell represents both the Chicago Fire of 1871 and the city's entrepreneurial spirit after the disaster. When the fire started the night of October 8th, 1871 the Court House bell sounded the alarm until the building caught fire, causing the bell to crash into the ground and shatter. The Court House and its bell had been the pride of the young city, so when the flames died out, businesses capitalized on the popularity of the bell pieces as souvenirs.