[Bell Historians] Manuel Vargas, bellfounder, Lima Peru, 1800's?

George Dawson George at d...
Thu Oct 17 10:35:49 BST 2002

I quote from:
That Vanishing Sound by L Elsinore Springer, p.15:

Contrary to common belief that the bells along El Camino Real were cast
mainly at the old armory in San Bias, Mexico, official references reveal
that they were the products of numerous scattered founders and foundries.
Taken as a whole, they prove somewhat more interesting than their
counterparts throughout the Southwest, though their basic provenance is
similar. By the time these others were being brought to California the art
of casting had become better defined. Not only were founders now signing
their bells; several were earning a reputation for individual styling and
ornamentation of their work.
Notable names appearing on California's mission bells include those of
Manuel Vargas in Lima, Peru, who cast at least fourteen of them; Paul Ruelas
in Mexico City, who shipped about the same number; and Cervantes in
Santiago, Chile, who sent very few that far.
Vargas was considered the most literate and meticulous in his work, and it
is possible that he may have served his apprenticeship in Spain, where the
finest bell casting was done. Or possibly he apprenticed at the renowned
bell foundry on La Calera farm near Santiago. Misspelled words and imprecise
ornamentations are unknown over a Vargas signature. His larger bells are
often characterized by a sizable diamond cross with an eight-petaled daisy
in each diamond. Nine of those he cast for California missions were
accounted for in a single chime at San Juan Bautista. They ranged from a
treble of one hundred pounds to a deep bass of several tons. Today few
Vargas bells remain. Only three or four missions have even one. Santa
Barbara owned two, dated 1818, among those recast.

George Dawson

----- Original Message -----
From: <slobandito at y...>
To: <bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Thursday, October 17, 2002 7:32 AM
Subject: [Bell Historians] Manuel Vargas, bellfounder, Lima Peru, 1800's?

> Does anyone here happen to know any information about a Mr. Manuel
> Vargas who cast bells in Lima Peru from around 1815-1820?
> He cast several bells for the California Missions. Some of his bells
> are still in use. I would love to learn more about this man.
> Thank you.

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