One of my favorite Christmas treasures growing up were the angel chimes that filled the room with tinkling sounds from the tiny bells. I was mesmerized by the chimes as the heat from the candles made the angels twirl in circles blowing their trumpets, ringing the bells with each pass.
The angel chimes became a centerpiece for the holiday season, as I helped my mother set them up each Christmas. But it wasn’t until later in my life that I learned the angel chimes carried a rich family history.
According to my mother, my great-grandmother Myrtle Agnes (Gessner) Wolters sold these chimes to earn money. In fact, the set my mother owns is one my great-grandmother sold in the early 1900s. And even though they’re a little worn and have trouble standing upright (Mom says a little putty sometimes help!), these angel chimes are still a part of our holiday scene.
Angel chimes have a pretty unique history, growing in popularity throughout Europe before coming to North America. According to Wikipedia, the pre-World War II German-made chimes were made of tin and featured lithography. The original chimes were patent in Germany in 1905, but were discontinued in the late 1930s.
After the war, Swedish chimes made of brass became more popular. According to Angelchimes.com (which has all kinds of information about the chimes), Swedish production started in 1948 in Gefle, Sweden. For more than 60 years, Anderson & Boberg produced these tiny chimes until Asian markets started manufacturing smaller sets for a fraction of the price, pushing Anderson & Boberg to close. In 2010, a Turkish metal firm bought the Swedish factory equipment and trademark and resumed production of the angel chimes.
Today, you can still find angel chimes to purchase in the store, or online at AngelChimes.com. Years ago, my mother purchased me a set, which has now become a favorite among my Christmas treasures to share with future generations. There is just something magical about the tinkling sounds of those tiny bells that make you think of Christmas.