[Bell Historians] Indexing foundry marks

'George Dawson' george@gadawson.wanadoo.co.uk [bellhistorians] bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com
Wed Dec 2 14:28:08 GMT 2015

Whoops, ignore this, wrong recipient!



From: bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com [mailto:bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com]

Sent: 02 December 2015 14:21
To: bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com
Subject: RE: [Bell Historians] Indexing foundry marks



Perhaps we might find a few minutes to discuss this at Warwick??



From: bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com [mailto:bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com]

Sent: 27 November 2015 18:26
To: bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com
Subject: RE: [Bell Historians] Indexing foundry marks



I seem to have set some hares running in my inadvertent posting to the list
(done in haste, when I thought I was just responding to DRL and GAD) - but
there are some good suggestions and helpful points among the recent


But to clarify my earlier contribution, I should just stress that I'm not
suggesting that an index has to be based on (new) photographs of marks
(actually taken) from bells. Rubbings, casts and other forms of clear,
scaled representation would be fine. My caveat is specifically in relation
to drawings and engravings which, by and large, lack the accuracy of detail
to be entirely reliable - however useful they are as representations. But in
the light of methods and techniques available now, I certainly think that we
should step back and select a method (or methods) that best suit(s) modern


An important point I didn't include earlier is that marks used in the
database must be shown to scale (or with scale measures) and should be
identified as belonging to specific bells (even when the mark is
representative of one that is believed to be recurrent). 


In my experience, all indices, glossaries and aids that attempt to bridge
the gap between the visual and verbal (or referenced) worlds - Lawrence
Greenall mentions heraldry (and I'd cite architectural glossaries, the
NADFAS guide to makers' marks on stained glass as others) - all suffer from
a basic problem. That is, that it's difficult to find the mark / heraldry /
architectural feature for which one wants to find a name / reference /
identification. One knows what one has seen but (often) it's anything but
easy to find it  when searching among images or representations. With e.g.
crosses on bells, one can add filters to separate them into smaller groups
(e.g. Maltese cross, cross fleury etc) but then one starts to require a
degree of knowledge in the user and/or means there are more places to look.
One has to remember the main objective of helping lost souls to find


While a coding system (Lawrence suggested an example) may well work, it
shouldn't be the only means of reference. Every entry in the index / guide
should be self-explicit - and NOT require reference to other pages etc
(although the fold-out key sheets in Scott et al "Devon" was really quite a
clever addition in that respect). To my mind the "(fig.161)" or "(plate V
no.15)" approach in the older County bell books - while perfectly clear and
precise - isn't very helpful in conveying an immediate idea of which marks
are involved. In almost 50 years of doing this stuff, however, I still
haven't found a really workable alternative!


Add to this, of course, the fact that at present we have the same mark with
different references in different books, hence Warwickshire plate V no.15 =
Sussex Plate 42c) = Worcestershire fig.161. A single reference system would
certainly be a great improvement.


These - perhaps not very well expressed, I admit - are some of the
difficulties I alluded to in my earlier posting.


As to means of capture, I'm slightly surprised (but then I started doing
this stuff a long time ago) that the use of rubbings and casts aren't
immediately familiar to most bell historians. I certainly have a largish
collection of rubbings of marks - soft pencil on thin paper to get a good
impression when rubbed with the fingers - and a few plaster casts, although
I stopped using this method in the 1970s because of their fragility and
problems of storage. Both methods, however, are very effective for
"capturing" good representations exact-size. 


Many historical collections exist, and over the years I've made use of most
of them - absolutely invaluable, and we risk missing a great deal if we
don't use what's available. Among them are these:


.        Ellacombe rubbings - at the British Library

.        North's rubbings - also at the British Library

.        Walters rubbings - at the Society of Antiquaries

.        Hawkins rubbings (incidentally including good rubbings of most of
the Royal Heads bells!!!) - at the Society of Antiquaries

.        Elphick plaster casts - at the Taylor Bellfoundry Museum (and some
at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford)


These are all accessible with varying degrees of ease.


Chris Pickford

E-mail: pickford5040 at gmail.com 

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.ringingworld.co.uk/pipermail/bell-historians/attachments/20151202/4ef74a4b/attachment.html>
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: image001.jpg
Type: image/jpeg
Size: 359 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: <http://lists.ringingworld.co.uk/pipermail/bell-historians/attachments/20151202/4ef74a4b/attachment.jpg>
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: image002.jpg
Type: image/jpeg
Size: 332 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: <http://lists.ringingworld.co.uk/pipermail/bell-historians/attachments/20151202/4ef74a4b/attachment-0001.jpg>

More information about the Bell-historians mailing list