Bellfounding story

Bill Hibbert bill at
Wed Aug 30 17:30:44 BST 2006

I finally met Robert Perrin last week after corresponding for years. 
I won't bore you all with discussions of bell acoustics but I will 
pass on the following story he told me . . .

A numbr of years ago, an employee of some bellfoundry in the Midlands 
hatched a plot with accomplices to steal the foundry's stock of tin. 
The theft was successful, but the employee chose to take his share of 
the proceeds not in cash but in tin, which he hid in his locker in 
the foundry. When the police arrived at the foundry to investigate 
the theft, the employee lost his nerve and threw the tin into the 
furnace just as a bell was about to be cast.

There is another alloy of copper and tin as well as bell metal, 
called speculum, with a much higher propertion of tin. Speculum is 
white and shiny and used to be used to make the mirrors of 
telescopes. The foundry staff were amazed when they took the bell 
that had just been cast out of the mould, to find that it was white. 
When upended and struck, it made no musical note, and after a few 
hammer blows, collapsed into a pile of fragments 'like glass breaking 
in a Tom and Jerry cartoon'.

The theiving employee was charged, did time, and is said to have 
later run his own business casting handbells somewhere in south 

Bill H


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