This bell appears to be from an inkstand which formed part of the Earl of Warrington's celebrated silver collection. It appears that the bell became separated from the inkstand some time before 1921 when the inkstand was sold along with much of the Earl's silver by his descendants at Christie's (April 20, 1921, lot 2).
George Booth, 2nd Earl of Warrington (1675-1758) and his silver are well known to silver collectors (see Timothy Schroder, "George Booth and William Beckford, a Study in Patronage," in International Silver and Jewellery Fair Annual, 1989, and Christopher Hartop, The Huguenot Legacy, English Silver 1680-1760 from the Alan and Simone Hartman Collection, 1996, pp. 392-397). A patron of the leading Huguenot silversmiths of his day, the Earl formed a collection of plate which provides us today with an illuminating portrait of this somewhat dry and unattractive man, obsessed with money and genealogy. Because most of it descended in the same family until sold earlier this century, it it is extremely well documented. But more important for silver scholars is the existence of an inventory of the silver in the Earl's own handwriting, entitled "Particular of my Plate and its Weight" (John Rylands Library, Manchester) which comprises some seventeen manuscript pages, listing every piece and giving us valuable information about the function of various objects. For example, we can differentiate, thanks to the weights recorded in the inventory and the scratch weights on surviving pieces, between a 'hand bason' and 'a bason to wash my mouth' or between 'a large green teapot' and 'a large Bohea teapot'.
Two inkstands are recorded under the heading "My Chamber Plate": the first, "A large Standish" weighing 66 oz. 5 dwt., is at Dunham Massey, the Earl's house in Cheshire, now the property of the National Trust, having been bought by Lord Stamford, Warrington's descendant, earlier this century. This example, maker's mark of Isaac Liger, 1716, was also separated from its bell some time before the 1921 sale, for lot 3 in the catalogue is the bell whose present whereabouts are unknown.
The "Smaller Standish" recorded as weighing 42 oz. 2 dwt. in the inventory is listed in the 1921 sale catalogue as weighing 34 oz. 19 dwt. This, added to the present weight of the bell, 7 oz., makes a total of 41 oz. 19 dwt. which, allowing for some loss due to wear and cleaning, seems to correspond to the inkstand in the Earl's inventory.