[Bell Historians] Incised bells

Carl S Zimmerman csz_stl at s...
Fri Jul 11 16:10:53 BST 2003

At 14:41 +0100 2003/07/11, David Bryant wrote:
> > I am only aware of one other incised bell in Buckinghamshire (at
>> Quainton, if I remember correctly) so how common are incised bells in
>> general?
>Don't know in your specific case, but generally they are stock bells or
>second-hand bells.

This is generally true of American bells, as well. One notable 
instance is the chime at Hollywood Park Cemetery, which has an entire 
stanza of poetry incised on each bell. I believe that this chime had 
made for display at a major exposition, after which it was sold; the 
purchaser requested that the inscriptions be done before the bells 
were installed at their current location.

A major exception was the Meneely (Watervliet) bellfoundry. When 
they began investigating the tuning of bells, following Canon 
Simpson's discoveries, they also began turning their bells on the 
outsides as well as the insides. As a result, almost all of the 
bells they produced during their last 50 years of operation have no 
raised lettering at all. Instead, the inscriptions (including the 
customary foundry name, city and year in the shoulder band) were made 
after casting and tuning, by means of a pin punch. I have seen a few 
such bells in well-protected belfries where the original pencilled 
outlines of the letters could still be seen.

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