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Whirligig Christmas

Antique Candle-Powered Chimes




Gallery Page TWO

   Other Pre-World War II Angel Chimes

Adrian & Stock's "Angel Chime" proved extremely popular, and was widely imitated. But because the firm had the foresight to patent important design elements, it is easy to distinguish the products of other makers from those of Adrian & Stock. If the chime does not exhibit Adrian & Stock's exclusive design patents (including "floating" angels carrying bell-clappers, a trumpeting angel figure at the top of the chime, a folding tripod base, and a nativity scene as part of the design), then the chime was not manufactured by Adrian & Stock, although (just to confuse things) it may have been marketed by them — see below. 

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[Bell Brothers?] “Christbaum Engelgeläute" (Christmas Tree Angel-Chimes) 

At left is an example of Stock’s contemporary competition in the candle chime market, a striking and unusual chime marketed, and perhaps manufactured, by the Solingen firm of Gebrüder Bell. I have yet to discover any early advertisements for it, but it most likely dates from after 1905. The firm of Adrian & Stock held a patent on the "floating angels" design, so while angels are also prominent feature of this chime, here they only serve as stationary holders for the impellers. The original box is illustrated below. Click for bigger photo.


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Rauh Bros. “Engel-Geläute Stern von Bethlehem” (Angel-Chimes with the Star of Bethlehem) (43 x 24 cm.); and

“Engel-Geläute,”  (Angel-Chimes) 1-bell (31 x 12 cm.) and 3-bell (41 x 13 cm.) versions.

Based on the box of a tree-topper model sold recently on eBay (see photo below left), manufacture of this extraordinary line of chimes may be tentatively attributed to the firm of Gebrüder Rauh, one of many makers of cutlery and metalware based in Solingen. The original date of manufacture is unknown, although like the chime described above, it was probably introduced after 1905 in an attempt to capitalize on the runaway success of Adrian & Stock's 1905 Engelgeläute; and indeed, the earliest advertisement I have seen for this chime dates from 1906 (below right). While angels are an integral part of the design of these chimes, they do not act as bell ringers but as supports for an ingenious system of counter-balanced chimes and and impellers. The design was available as both a traditional tree-topper/table decoration, and as an ornament to hang in the boughs of a Christmas tree. It appears to have been in production for some years, and exists in a number of variants.

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No. 1: “Engel-Geläute Stern von Bethlehem”
Tree-topper/table decoration

The design of this chime is amazing, and a personal favorite. Featuring no fewer than three chime systems, it combines the mad complexity of a Rube Goldberg device with the disturbing charm of folk-art, producing an object perhaps more in tune with Halloween than Christmas. The disembodied hand-shaped candle-holders (unique to this maker) contribute to the odd effect, as do the spidery delicacy of the chime/clapper/impeller mechanisms. The mechanisms work on the counterbalance principle, a clever and useful innovation that uses gravity to keep the chiming parts reasonably level even if the whole device is out of plumb (as is usual with your average Christmas tree). Early advertisements for this chime claim that “every piece is guaranteed to function perfectly,” and indeed, it is one of the very few antique angel chimes that can be made to work reliably today. It was apparently quite popular, and widely distributed: boxes have been noted with the names of a number of different Solingen retailers, including I. Ranges, Emil Jansen, and — interestingly enough — Adrian & Stock. Two initial design variants have been noted, the differences lying primarily in the lettering on the banner and cloud. The one shown here is in unusually nice condition.

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Nos. 2-3: “Engel-Geläut” Christmas tree ornament

Although the boxes bear no maker’s mark, these chimes are also almost certainly by the firm of Gebrüder Rauh. Meant to hang in the boughs of a Christmas tree, they incorporate many of the same design features found in the full-size Engel-Geläute, including the hand-shaped candle holders, distinctive angels, and a similar — but even more elaborate — counter-balanced mechanism of candle, impeller, and chime. Model no. 2, the 1-bell chime (first two photos below), was powered by a single candle, and came three to a box; no. 3, the 3-bell version (left, and third photo below), which ran on two candles, was sold singly.

Below is a detail from the 1906 "Stern von Bethlehem” tree-topper ad illustrated above, describing these two Engel-Geläute, and giving prices. 



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Engels "Christbaumgeläute 'Engelfreud'" (Christmas Tree Chimes 'Angel-Joy') (28.5 x 16 cm.)

Engels "Christbaumgeläute" (Christmas Tree Chimes)
(28.5 x 16 cm.)

Keydel “Angel Chimes” (28.5 x 16 cm.)

Keydel “Electric Angel Chime” (28.5 x 16 cm.)

Another attractive and very successful competitor to the Stock line of chimes was the Christbaumgeläute model series first manufactured by the appropriately-named Friedrich Wilhelm Engels of Solingen. Again,Click for bigger picture. the earliest advertisement seen for this chime (right) dates to about 1906, suggesting that the design was developed to compete with the Stock Engelgeläute. If the claim of 500,000 sold can be believed, this was one of the more popular German candle chimes on the market. Manufactured from ca. 1906 through the late 1920s in both Germany and the US, it was certainly one of the longest-lived. The basic design consists of three interlocking supports, each carrying a candle holder, a chime, and a pair of stamped angel figures. The impeller, topped with a star, is mounted on a central spike. The angel figures on this chime are attractively and delicately modeled in low relief, and the bells have a particularly sweet tone.

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Engels "Christbaumgeläute 'Engelfreud'" 

This "Angel-Joy" model appears to be the more expensive (Mark 1.50) version alluded to in the Engels ad illustrated above. In addition to the basic features described above this example has angel figures in gold instead of the usual silver, a glass bead detail on the central spike, and a little detachable banner reading "Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe" (Glory to God in the Highest), a design element very likely "borrowed" from the Rauh “Engel-Geläute Stern von Bethlehem.” All early versions of this chime came disassembled and folded in a small plain box; this example was found in an unusually complete state, including its original instruction leaflet.  


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Engels "Christbaumgeläute" 

This less-elaborate example of the Engels "Christbaumgeläute" represents perhaps the earliest German candle chime imported to America. According to the instruction leaflet it was distributed for Engels in the United States by Joseph P. Steiner of Milwaukee, WI. (Milwaukee had large population of recent German immigrants at this period.) It differs from the 'Engelfreud' model in that the angels are silver, not gold; and neither "Glasperle" nor banner is included. Like the version illustrated above, this model came disassembled and folded in a small plain box. Note the picture of the chime used as a tree topper, reproduced below from the original instruction/advertising leaflet.

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Keydel “Angel Chimes”

By the mid-to-late 1920s the Keydel Company of Detroit, MI had taken over the U.S. distribution of this chime, and perhaps the manufacture as well. As marketed by Keydel, the candle chime had a smaller, six pointed gilt star, and came almost fully assembled in a larger box decorated with lithographic images and text (below, right). The box says ‘patents applied for,’ but no American patent for this candle chime has yet come to light. In 1927 the candle chime appeared in Sears, Roebuck catalogues for the princely sum of 79 cents.

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Keydel/Propp “Electric Angel Chime”

In 1923 Keydel patented an electrically-powered angel chime (original patent drawing at far left, below), which was eventually produced and marketed at about the same time as the candle chime.  The electric motor, which rotated the strike mechanism and lit up a C6 bulb topper,Sorry, a larger version of this picture is not available. was powered by a cord tipped with a plug designed to screw into an empty socket of a C6 Christmas light string. The motor of the original Keydel model was a bit small for the job, and later models (marketed by the Propp company) had larger coils. In 1926 the Keydel "Electric Angel Chime" was advertised in magazines like Popular Mechanics for $1.50 (right), and in 1927 it appeared in the Sears, Roebuck catalogue  for $1.39, paired with its candle-powered cousin at $.79. 

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The Engels/Keydel/Propp line of angel chimes was manufactured for nearly thirty years (a long life-span for a product of this kind), and by the time Keydel began marketing the chime in the U.S. the molded figures had lost much of their fine detail — collectors will prefer the earlier German-made versions whenever possible.  


For More Pictures and Information, Visit:


Introduction & History


Gallery Page One

Adrian & Stock and the Origins of the "Angel Chime"


Gallery Page Two

Other Pre-WWII Chimes


Gallery Page Three

"Swedish Pattern" and Other Post-WWII Angel Chimes



Please note: the chimes illustrated on this site are from the author's personal collection, and they are not for sale. For those wanting to buy
particular chimes illustrated here, eBay is the best source. The author welcomes comments, additions and corrections, particularly information on manufacturers and variant models, as well as advertisements and entries
in contemporary catalogs.

Eric Holzenberg