[Bell Historians] McShane of Baltimore

Carl S Zimmerman csz_stl at swbell.net
Fri Feb 16 15:15:29 GMT 2024

Those two bells (St.Anne's, Birmingham and St.Mary's, Heaton Norris) are the only ones in the surviving McShane records that are identified as having been shipped to England.  Those records also show two being shipped to Ireland in the 1880s, two shipped to Northern Ireland, and of course the 13-bell chime for Falkirk, Scotland.  However, the records do contain about 15 entries that were listed either according to the port from which they were to be exported by a third party (e.g., New York), or in such a way that the destination country cannot now be identified.  Also the surviving records consist solely of order books, not the actual order and delivery correspondence, so there could have been occasional errors or omissions in recording orders.  Finally, there have been a couple of pages lost from two of the order books due to subsequent wear and tear.  Therefore it is conceivable that there might have been a very few more bells that were shipped to the British Isles.

Also, those records only begin in mid-1874.  Apparently the orders for bells were not segregated from orders for other foundry work (of which there was a great deal) in the years from 1856 to early 1874, and no retroactive indexing of those orders seems to have been done.  Fortunately, there does exist a typed index to the order books, which I have digitized and processed through OCR (optical character recognition) into a spreadsheet.  Analysis of this suggests that McShane probably received fewer than 100 orders for bells per year prior to 1874.  By contrast, from 1884 to 1889 there were over 700 orders per year.  This shows that the vast majority of McShane's bell production over a span of two-thirds of a century of operation is accurately reflected in the order books.
Much work remains to be done in analyzing the McShane order books, because the digitized index contains only sporadic information about the number and weight of individual bells within each order.  Fortunately, the foundry's successor firm (McShane Bell Company) and the surviving records are located right here in Saint Louis.

Carl Scott Zimmerman, Campanologist 
Saint Louis, Missouri, USA -
 - 19th c. home of at least 37 bell founders or resellers 
Tel. +1-314-821-8437 
Webmaster for www.TowerBells.org
 * Avocation: tower bells
 * Recreation: handbells
 * Mission: church bellsWebmaster for www.TSCChapter134.orgTreasurer, World Carillon Federation

    On Friday, February 16, 2024 at 04:36:24 AM CST, c.j.pickford--- via Bell-historians <bell-historians at lists.ringingworld.co.uk> wrote:  
I examined the Deritend bell with Chris Dalton in 2003. It was quite a “find”. He wrote a rather entertaining account of the visit – a particularly difficult inspection – in “A day in the life of a pair of bell investigators” by Christopher Dalton in Ringing World 25 April 2003 pp.387, 407.


Details of the bell are in my Birmingham bells inventory - https://stmartinsguild.org/heritage-and-history/inventory-of-birmingham-bells/ 


Can’t say why they bought from McShane when there were two busy foundries in Birmingham (perhaps not that surprising given the tonal quality of their bells). Also, the Irish founders were major suppliers to Roman Catholic Churches.


As to McShane, I haven’t checked whether “Dove” has located any that I didn’t know about. But I’m aware (it’s in my inventory) of the chime of thirteen at Falkirk Old Kirk (1926) and a former bell – of which I have details from Taylors’ records – at St.Mary’s (R.C.) church in Heaton Norris, Stockport. The Heaton Norris bell was recast in 1963


Certainly be keen to know if there are any others in the UK


Chris Pickford
Bell-historians mailing list
Bell-historians at lists.ringingworld.co.uk
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.ringingworld.co.uk/pipermail/bell-historians/attachments/20240216/839a60ff/attachment.htm>

More information about the Bell-historians mailing list