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Large Bells of America

History of Church Bells, Fire Bells, School Bells,
Dinner Bells and Their Foundries

by  Neil Goeppinger

This long-awaited book on American bellfoundries, from the preeminent expert on their history and products, was published in August 2016 by Suncoast Digital Press.  With 198 pages and many color photos, it is now available from both Amazon and Barnes & Noble in hardcover and softcover versions.  (There is also an abridged edition available as an e-book, either Kindle for a trivial price or Nook for free.)  The ISBN is 978-1-939237-44-6.
On this page:
    Publisher's overview
    Editorial reviews  (from the publisher and the Webmaster)
    Note on the abridged edition  (from Amazon)
    How to distinguish between the first and second printings
    Webmaster's Endnote
On separate pages:
    Errata for the first printing  (from the Webmaster)
    Commentary and research notes plus errata for the second printing (from the Webmaster and the author)

Publisher's overview

From the Amazon and B&N Websites:
Bells have played a significant role in US history and, in many cases are seen as national symbols.  This is especially true when it comes to the Liberty Bell, cast at a foundry in England in 1752 and shipped to Philadelphia, where it was installed in the assembly house.

Bells have also played a central role in this author's life.  "I can still picture the 18-inch iron dinner bell that my mother used to call both myself and my brother to meals when we were out playing on the family farm in Iowa.  Indeed, my wife and I copied this 'PA' system when we purchased our own large bell nearly 40 years ago.  That was the start of a life-long passion which has resulted in my collection of American large bells, and knowledge of bells which I have been privileged to share with bell enthusiasts across the country."

Large Bells of America provides a host of information not simply for enthusiasts and collectors, but also for anyone who is interested in bells, and in the part that these American symbols have played in United States history and our cultural, Christian and church heritage.

This full-color book is divided into two parts.

In the first part of the book the author looks at the early history of bells and their physical characteristics including the components of a bell; the materials used to make bells, and the different sound qualities that these materials produce; the various shapes produced; the difference between swinging and stationery bells; how bells are tuned and much more.  This part of the book also looks at such things as how the truly big bells are created and how old bells can be restored.

The second part of the book provides a comprehensive directory of bell foundries, and includes fascinating details of hundreds of foundries, including some very well-known names such as Andrew Meneely, Pass & Stow and Paul Revere, whose 1797 bell hangs in the People's Baptist Church of Boston.  Indeed, there are believed to be well over 100 church bells in existence bearing the Revere inscription.

Whether you are a bell enthusiast or collector, or simply have an interest in US history and the part that large bells have played in the life of our nation, this book is a must read.

Editorial reviews

From the back cover of the book:
Bells have figured in the culture and lives of Americans since the earliest days of our country.  As Historian of the American Bell Association, I appreciate that Neil Goeppinger has shared his lifetime of research so that current and future generations will have all the essential facts about large bells and foundries of America at their fingertips.  If your interest is also in Americana and the sights and sounds of days gone by, you will find much of interest in Large Bells of America: History of Church Bells, Fire Bells, School Bells, Dinner Bells and Their Foundries.  - Kathleen Collins, Historian, American Bell Association

This is the most extensive book published on big bells.  Neil has done exhaustive research over the years and it shows in this book.  The history is fascinating, along with the directory listings and the pictures.  This is a book you just cannot put down!  - Bruce Clayton, CPA, bell appraiser

Mr. Goeppinger has served as President of the American Bell Association, International, Inc. (ABAII).

He continues to serve ABA as past-president and goodwill ambassador.  You can find his articles and comments on the American Bell Association website. - Gary Childress, bell enthusiast and purveyor

From the Webmaster:  This book is the result of Neil's many years of collecting and researching "big bells."  Part II is a complete list of every known or suspected bellfoundry in the history of America, with illustrations of the work of some of them.  (Some suspected bellfoundries may actually have been agents or retailers.)  For each business in the list, there is presented the location, year established, year closed, years of known operation, name of bellfounder, predecessor & successor, source of information, and other facts.  An appendix lists all of the manufacturers by state, thus providing a cross-index.  This book is in a class by itself, because previous general-audience books on bells that have mentioned bellfounders have not attempted to be comprehensive and have not documented their sources of information.  In spite of a few typographic errors, this is an essential addition to the library of anyone who has an interest in tower bells or American industrial history.  Highly recommended!  Buy a copy for your local public library!

Note on the abridged edition

From the Amazon Website:
IMPORTANT:  Please note that this Kindle book is the publisher's abridged version of Large Bells of America.  This digital version is designed to allow readers to sample the rich history, beautiful full-color photographs, and collected reference material found nowhere else in the world except in the printed version of this book.

How to distinguish between the first and second printings

The first printing of this book contained numerous typographic errors.  Most of them were corrected in the second printing of the book.  Unfortunately, there is no way to distinguish between the two printings except by checking for the presence of these typos.  To do that, see the Errata for the first printing.  If your copy is from the first printing, then you should work through that list of errata, carefully and legibly posting the corrections to your copy of the book.  Regardless of which printing you have, you should then see the Errata for the second printing, Commentary and Research Notes.  Everything there is relevant to both printings.

Webmaster's Endnote

I've known and respected Neil and his work for many years.  For all that time, it has clearly been his intention to publish a book about American bellfoundries.  So when he let me make an extract from his database to support my own researches, I honored his intention by keeping that extract confidential.

Over the half century and more that I have been compiling information about carillons, and later including information about chimes and then about tower bells in general, I have from time to time been urged to "write a book, Carl!"  I resisted that urge because of the very obvious difficulty that such a book would be obsolete by the time it came off the press.  Publishing articles in the GCNA Bulletin from time to time was not a useful alternative, because so much information changed so frequently.  Thus I was very pleased when the Internet and the World Wide Web came along, as it offered a method of publication that could readily be updated as often as needed.

Now the time has come for Neil to publish his book, and it has been well worth the wait.  So I am happy to join forces with him by providing a means through which it can be kept up to date with the results of future researches by both of us.  Watch for future additions!

/s/   Carl Scott Zimmerman, Campanologist

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This page was created 2016/10/14 and last revised 2021/12/12.

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