These bell-shaped knitting needle gauges originated in the Victorian era: 1847 to be precise. Bell gauges were specifically mentioned in some Victorian knitting patterns and are useful if you’re working from pre-1920s British knitting patterns as needle sizes were a little different then.
However, bell gauges also make lovely Christmas tree decorations, especially for the haberdashery-obsessed. The oldest gauges run to size 28, a very fine needle indeed, but most go no further than size 24: perfect to mark the days of Advent.
The ones pictured are Abel Morrall’s, Walker and Jager brands, dating from the early-to-mid twentieth century. I’ll be selling them at my Christmas fairs but only have a handful, so catch them while you can.