The phrase “bells and whistles” is thought to have referred to the ways in which, in the 18th and 19th centuries, trains were decked out with some such noise-making accoutrements in order to warn people of their impending presence. In common parlance, the phrase is now tied directly to products. When something, such as a car, is purported to come with “all the bells and whistles,” it will supposedly have many fancy (and wholly unnecessary, depending on your definition of necessity) features in addition to the requisite few. The “Bells and Whistles” folder in the SVA Library’s Pictures Collection, however, offers nothing more than it advertises - except perhaps an unexpectedly interesting foray into the world of things that chime and, well, whistle. The folder contains around a couple dozen images of bells and whistles - religious, patriotic, shrill, jangly and otherwise. The folder, like many of the sometimes strange and seemingly arbitrary dossiers one can find in the Pictures Collection, invites those perusing to rethink the everyday.

A silver whistle.
Two people peek out of small windows inside a bell tower.
Whistles with lanyards.

A large bell silhouetted, a European town visible from the bell tower.