[Bell Historians] Cost of 1669 Bell Metal

Richard Smith richard at 2crA6kCfXpMrdYJZFOdYGyQR5eNawWJIYvYbW9U9p1UiCP-u0n8QQ9P-_fDoNg87EUzeNIVQcmnAFysw6w.yahoo.invalid
Wed Feb 16 18:46:01 GMT 2011

Dickon Love wrote:

> Does anyone have a feeling for the value of bell metal in 
> 1669.  I have discovered a reference to £38-3-10 of good 
> bell metal and £8-0-0 of coarse bell metal having been 
> retrieved from St Magnus the Martyr after the Great Fire 
> of London, and I am trying to get a handle on how much 
> metal that represents.

Here are some figures that I have to hand:

In 1541, at its dissolution, Malvern Priory only received
19s/cwt (2d/lb) for their bells.

In 1542, St John's, Peterborough exchanged their cracked 
tenor with the 'great bell' of the disolved Leicester Abbey; 
they paid 4d/lb for the extra metal in Leicester's bell. 
And in 1554, St John's, Peterborough bought a new sanctus 
bell weighing 2-1-17 and paid 35s 4d per cwt -- i.e. about 

When the 2, 3 and 4 (of 5) at Kings College, Cambridge, were 
replaced or recast in 1598-1600, the college paid 6d/lb for 
the extra weight.

There was quite a bit of work done at Great St Mary's, 
Cambridge in 1607-11.  The accounts for these suggest that 
recasting a bell from existing metal cost 3d/lb, buying a 
second-hand bell cost 7d/lb, and casting a bell from fresh 
metal was 8d/lb.  That suggests that good quality scrap bell 
metal would have around 5d/lb -- i.e. the difference between 
casting new (at 8d/lb) and re-casting an existing bell (at 

In 1755, the five bells at Kings College, Cambridge were 
sold to Thomas Lester.  The total weight was 127-1-19 for 
which Lester paid £533 10s. 3d. or just under 9d/lb.

So I'm guessing you're talking around 10-15 cwt of good 
metal, and maybe 5 cwt of 'coarse' metal.  It would be 
interesting to know roughly how much of the metal you'd 
expect to recover after a major fire.  Does anyone know how 
much was recovered from Bow after the Blitz, for example?


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