Nicholas Roosevelt (American, 17151769)
Gold, coral; Overall: 6 1/8 in., 82.3 grams (15.6 cm, 2.646 troy ounces)
Rogers Fund, 1947 (47.70)
This rare and precious gold toy, with its elaborate chased and repoussé ornament, might have been given as a lavish christening gift. It consists of a whistle, a piece of teething coral, six of the original eight bells and a loop to allow it to be hung on a ribbon around the child's neck. Aside from being a teething device, the coral in the whistle and bells was thought to ward off enchantment and disease. As a token of protection and prosperity, whistle and bells were introduced in an eighteenth-century American portrait of Mrs. Jacob Hurd and child (64.114.2), and a seventeenth-century Dutch portrait of Jacques de Peyster (L.42.5.5). There are few examples of gold whistle and bells, all of which bear the marks of New York silversmiths. Other whistle and bells in the Museum's collection are 33.120.361, 1978.287, and L.2000.31.