salvaged from the wreckage of HMS Lutine
, and now kept at Lloyd's of London
. It is traditionally rung to announce important news to underwriter
s and broker
s: once for bad news
and twice for good news
La Lutine was a French frigate in the Napoleonic Wars. She was captured by the British in 1793. In October 1799 she sank off the Dutch coast bearing a large cargo of gold and silver bullion, en route to Hamburg. Lloyd's underwriters bore the loss. In 1858 the bell was recovered from the seabed, and hung up in Lloyd's offices. The famous tradition began: when a ship was overdue or lost, it was struck once. When a ship believed lost was found to be safe, it was struck twice.
It is of course now ceremonial; it was last rung for an overdue ship in 1979 and for a safe arrival in 1981, but it continues to be an important symbol.
In 1984 the Space Shuttle tried to deploy two communications satellites, Westar and Indonesia's Palapa. This failed and the satellites were lost. But NASA and Hughes (the manufacturer) did not give up, and astronauts from the Shuttle made another rendezvous. On learning of the safe recapture and deployment of the satellites, Lloyd's rang the Lutine Bell.
Yesterday, September 13, 2001, it was rung once before an assembly of Lloyd's members. A minute's silence was observed. It was rung once more to end it.
A yacht race was held in 1999 to commemorate the Lutine, tracing her route from Great Yarmouth in Norfolk to Terschelling in the Frisian Islands; competing for the Lutine Trophy.