Thursday, November 02, 2006
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Because I want to keep my collection together in my study, from time to time I sell bells to make room for a special addition. In this blog, I will put a note against any bells I have now sold. But I will keep the entry as a reminder and it may help someone to identify a bell.
'View my complete profile'
Click on that and scroll down to see links to all my blogs. These tell the full story behind some of my bell adventures.
But leave that 'till later. For now, read on........
So a collector has to decide what type of bell to collect, how many and at what cost. I am determined not to let my bells overwhelm my home so I am keeping to numbers I can display in my study, a room 12ft x 10ft, or hang outside the house.
The bells I collect have not been easy to find. Really good quality bells from famous founders or with a story to tell only turn up occasionally.
I have obtained a few on Ebay, some in antique shops, some via friends and some direct from foundries. When you let it be known what you collect you will get the odd call from someone who has found one they know will interest you. Those able to attend meetings of the American Bell Association can attend one of their bell auctions. Living in England that's not an option for me. Perhaps that's as well!
While we all enjoy a discovery in a most unexpected place. I love to visit a bell foundry and buy a new bell direct from the maker. At least that way you know exactly what you are getting and can ensure future owners know the bell's history.
Above all, have fun looking. And buy because you enjoy it.
Bell metal is just one of many variants of bronze, we only call it that because we use it!
Handbells have less tin-20% or so and small carillon bells have more, up to 25%.
Hope this helps.
So there you have it!
I am always delighted to show my bells to anyone interested, so if you are likely to be in the Sway area of the New Forest you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a visit.
My interest in bells took root in Villedieu les poels in Normandy many years ago. I visited the Cornille Havard Foundry and enjoyed a tour of the buildings. There were some magnificent huge church bells ready for delivery. I wondered where they would end up. Whose lives would they touch? How would the world change before the bells needed replacing? Thought of all the events at which those bells would be heard. Bells are like that. They stir the imagination. At the end of the visit I bought a 4 inch diameter handled bell as a memento. Last year I gave it to my daughter who lived in New York at the time. She's now moving to Dallas so the bell's off again. Meanwhile, another excuse to contact Cornille Havard! This bell is the result. It has a 6 inch diameter. When the bell arrived it had a rather small handle probably due to a misunderstanding. During a trip to Whitechapel Bell Foundry I saw a delightful handle and asked them to fit it to this bell. It is made from Wenge and has a deep rich brown colour with an attractive grain.
This is the bell which really set me off on bell collecting. I saw it at a local auction. Knowing virtually nothing about bells I tried to find out something about bell valuation. In the 'phone directory I found a bell hanging business in Bridport, Dorset. They offered some advice and I bought the bell. Later I visited the company, Nicholson Engineering, and saw many old bells either ready for hanging or restoration. They introduced me to the world of Whitechapel and Taylor's Bell Foundries. I visited Whitechapel for a tour of the Foundry. I was hooked! The bell has a diameter of 8 inches. The novelty Swiss Cowbell hangs from a curtain pole. One must fit these things in where one can.
This old bell came from a 1930s Merryweather fire engine. I bought it from an employee of Nicholson's in Bridport, Dorset. They made the bracket it hangs from. More excuses for days out. When I bought the bell it had been repolished and looked like new. It is made of bell metal and now has a delightful patina which now protects it from corrosion. Also in view is another fire bell and the door bell pull.
A perfect example of a handled bell from the world's greatest bell foundry. Yes, I'm biased.
It is engraved:
A gift to mark my 60th birthday. I love the idea of a named bell. Us bell enthusiasts should all have one. I want to add a suitable quotation. What would you have on your bell?
It stands 15 inches x 7 inches diameter.
This is 6 inches diameter and, according to Steve at Whitechapel, has a more feminine shape!
After collecting the bell from the foundry we went to a ballet at the Royal Opera House. Another fine bell day.
This is a bell by the Kruszewski Brothers Bell Foundry in Poland. It is a bronze bell standing 11 inches high with a diameter of 6 inches. It bears the names Peter and Ruth and commemorates our 40th wedding anniversary. I tell the story of this bell in a separate blog.
The Symondsons were another famous British Bell Founding family. Henry would have made this in London early 19th century. It was restored by Whitechapel. It bears the name B Jennings. Trevor Jennings is well known in bell ringing circles. He was the Curator of Taylors Museum and has written books about handbells and founding. I am still researching the possibility that B Jennings is an ancestor of Trevor's.
Now this is a teaser. This was sold as a Jury Officers bell. It is marked JO on the crown. The bell is made from gunmetal so it made a change from my usual bell metal or bronze. As for JO representing 'Jury Officer' - I doubt it. If anyone can shed any light on this I will be pleased to amend my listing.
This is a 19th century bell made by John Warner & Sons Spital Bell Foundry in London. 14.5" tall x 6.5" diameter. It carries 'CT Schools' engraving as well as WH and '13' A bell from my favourite Antique shop in Hungerford. I do enjoy my visits there. This has a particularly grand walnut handle.
William Haley was born in 1857. After working for Warners for over 40 years he set up his own business in the 1920's.I came upon this example of his work on Ebay. It bears the WH makers mark. I was the only bidder! I thought I would leave this exactly as it was. It was certainly well used.
As yet I know nothing of Walter apart from his probable connection with Rochester, Northumberland. The makers mark WH is perhaps William Hayley although the W is not like another Hayley bell I have.
This is a fine bronze bell 5 inches diameter. A leather thong is attached to the handle. Not something I have seen before. Perhaps for the bell to be hung out of reach or for convenience? I had a theory that it might have enabled it to hang from a Town Criers wrist while he held a parchment. But not known among my Crier contacts.
Whitechapel and Taylor's will claim to make the finest English musical handbells. After all, they have both been at it for 100s of years and they are in England. Now two American upstarts claim to be the best! Schulmerich began production of bells in 1935 and in 1962 started making English musical handbells. Having seen and heard bells from all four makers I think they are all great! Another import from the USA.
Malmark have been making handbells about as long as I've lived in the New Forest - about 30 years. Based in Plumsteadville, PA,USA they have rapidly become one of the world's premier makers of English handbells. A few emails and telephone calls and over it came. It was cheaper to buy direct from Malmark than from a UK agent.
No one gets into my study unnoticed or without waking me up. I was in Wimborne one day and went to an Antique Shop closing down sale. A sad occasion. On entering, these little gems made a terrific din. 'Sorry they are not for sale' I was told. After hearing my life history and of my passion for bells I finally wore the owner down and left triumphant. They now hang on my study door and easily outperform any guard dog.
This sat in my mother's hallway long before I ever thought about bell collecting. We used to use it as a dinner gong. She lived until she was 92. She would be tickled pink to think that this little piece from her home was on view to the world. She had a small shop, selling antiques and general second hand goods. This was probably one of the many things she found that ended up at home. Collecting, like anything else, is in the genes.
Now this makes me sad. I bought this from Canada. All I know is from the engraving:
Why do these leave their families? I think I might be sponsoring a bell refuge soon. At 9cm diameter this is just a modest little brass bell but with a tale to tell. But what was it?
All I know about this little character is that it probably has one of the most beautiful tones of any in my collection. Just 10cm diameter, I found it in Dorchester. It didn't have any special claim to fame - but it sits proudly among it's more illustrious neighbours without a sign of embarrassment.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
This ARP bell was used during air raids in the second world war. Made by the James Barwell Foundry in Birmingham, this one had a special handle and was used by the Mayor of Plymouth. At least that was the story I was told by the seller in a little shop in Dorset. Well, it looks like the sort of bell a Mayor would use!
This is my brass lady bell collection. Well I had to have a least one. This is a very popular branch of bell collecting. Thousands are widely available and collectors battle over the rare ones. This had to be the one for me. Jenny Lind was a famous opera singer who was born in 1820 and became known as the Swedish nightingale. This version stands 5 inches tall. She sits in my study below a Royal Opera House poster for the Barber of Seville, which just happens to include a picture of my daughter as Rosina. Now that's another story. Meanwhile Jenny is keeping good company.
This is my very own servant's bell in regular daily use. Not that anyone ever hears it! The duck was a gift from a cricketing pal to mark one of my less notable performances. For a bell with a diameter of 6cm it makes quite a sound. They both sit next to my computer on one of my hi fi speakers. Everything has to be fitted in.
There are probably thousands of these little bells around. They are mostly replicas of bells made long ago. Many have Latin words and religious symbols embossed on them. They can be used on counters or in the home to attract attention. This little lot sit on an old Emerson radio that came back on one of the great liners to England in 1946 from New York. I often listen to commentary from Fratton Park on it on Saturday afternoons. Any other Pompey fans out there?
And this is the Company today:
Davis and Hill