This bell may have been among those that the workman Thomas Fenton installed at Mount Vernon in 1788. The Washingtons relied on skilled slaves as well as white overseers and servants to ensure that the estate ran with efficiency. The house bell system enabled the Washingtons to call slaves and servants to various rooms of the mansion when needed.


Copper alloy house bell on a coiled iron ribbon spring mounted to a central iron pivot and spike; cast copper alloy bell with cast copper alloy clapper and tab top; wrought iron pivot bar with offset handle, a cross piece near the bottom, and an arrow-form tip; the bell is screwed to one end of an iron coil which tapers to a point and is in turn screwed to one side of the cross piece on the pivot bar; a double looped iron coil with tapered point is screwed to the other side of the cross piece on the pivot bar; an iron spike with a square cross-section extends through the center of each coil and through the pivot bar at a ninety degree angle; a copper alloy, square washer is screwed on just below the head of the spike.


c. 1784 - 1788



Copper alloy, iron


Overall (H x W x D): 9 5/8 in. x 5 1/8 in. x 6 1/8 in. (24.46 cm x 13.03 cm x 15.57 cm)
Other (Bell): 3 3/4 in. x 2 5/8 in. x 2 5/8 in. (9.53 cm x 6.68 cm x 6.68 cm)
Other (Coil): 7 1/2 in. x 5 1/8 in. x 6 1/8 in. (19.05 cm x 13.03 cm x 15.57 cm)

Credit Line

Transferred to the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association through the generosity of John Augustine Washington III, 1860
Conservation courtesy of Harry and Erika Lister

Object Number


Colors (Beta)

Mount Vernon's object research is ongoing and information about this object is subject to change. For information on image use and reproductions, click here.
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