[Bell Historians] Coins cast in bells

'David Cawley' davidl.cawley@btinternet.com [bellhistorians] bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com
Wed Sep 9 11:55:50 BST 2015

Regarding coins – or rather, the impressions of coins - in bells, it is largely a matter of decoration. Certainly nothing to do with tuning and only coincidentally with dating.


First, though, let’s get it right. It is not an actual coin that was set into the mould, with the bell cast round it!  It is the impression of a coin, simply tapped into the mould, therefore the better condition the coin is in, the better and clearer the impression when the bell is cast. 


Draper was one of several founders who favoured the decoration of bells – for essentially that is what it is – with coin impressions. I think that John and Christopher Hodson of London and St Mary Cray were the most prolific “numismatic founders” They used silver coins from the Crown (5/- = 25p), Half Crown, Shilling, Sixpence (6d = 2 ½p) of Charles II, James II, William & Mary and William alone. These monarchs were contemporaries of the Hodsons. 


Although it may be a pointer, I don’t think that the presence of a coin guarantees a date. I have before me a small part of the inscription band of a west country bell containing three coins, two Half Crowns with the obverse impression of Queen Anne (1702 – 1714), with between them the reverse of a George I Sixpence, clearly dated 1723. All that can be said from the presence of the latter coin, is that this fragment is from a bell cast not earlier than 1723, and the presence of Queen Anne is purely decorative.


Coming back to Bottisham the description certainly suggests that the use of coins was decorative; as to dating, are the impressions sharp enough to reveal  date(s) – and does it / do they coincide with the date (if any) on the bell?      




From: bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com [mailto:bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com] 
Sent: 09 September 2015 09:07
To: bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com
Subject: [Bell Historians] Coins cast in bells [1 Attachment]



[Attachment(s) from gareth at charollais.co.uk [bellhistorians] included below] 

Bottisham, near Cambridge, have just had some work done on their bells and are putting together a history as part of their funding obligation. Christine Hammond, who is leading the work, has just asked me a couple of questions which I am sure someone will be able to answer.


Therefore, can anyone help with the following?


"The three draper bells all have coins set into the soundbow - some in groups of 4 and others single coins spaced around the bell.  I wondered if you had any idea why this was done? we wondered about it being used to date the bell but since the dates are cast in that seems unlikely, it was also suggested that it might be something to do with tuning but I wasn't convinced by that theory either!

The other thing I wanted to ask you about was markings made on the walls amongst the graffiti - I have attached  a photo & wondered if it was something you had seen anywhere else?"










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