[Bell Historians] Coins cast in bells

David Willis dcwillispiano@yahoo.com [bellhistorians] bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com
Wed Sep 9 12:02:48 BST 2015

Having had a brief look at Church Bells of Berkshire I see that the Wokingham foundry had coins in the inscriptions eg

Aston Upthorne


Joseph Smith of Edgbaston regularly put coins – or rather coin impressions - between words in his inscriptions. Hugh Watts II of Leicester and the C17 Bagleys often put clusters of coins on the soundbow. Not truly sure of the reasons though. Many other examples, of course – including recent ones. In Australia I was rather pleased to find a 1902 Taylor bell cast in coronation year with coins on.
Of course (see the writings of Fred Sharpe and others) there are the old tales about founders collecting silver coins to improve the quality of the sound – except the coins went into the founder’s pocket rather than in the furnace. Believe it or dismiss it as you wish. But one reason for the soundbow coins could possibly be as some sort of proof (it isn’t, of course) that precious metals went into the cast
Chris Pickford

Some bellfounders used impressions of coins as ornamental stops between letters.  The 1693 Hodson bells at Durham Cathedral, which were cast in a temporary foundry close to the site, are examples of this practice.   I think that if somebody was casting bells away from a permanent foundry, dependent on the equipment he could carry on the back of a pack horse, it would make good sense to use a form of ornamentation which was easy to get hold of locally rather than bring it all the way from home.
Peter Rivet

[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?"

Posted by: David Willis <dcwillispiano at yahoo.com>


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