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Tubular bell patents

Here you will find a list of American patents related to tubular bells.  This is supporting detail for the parent page about Tubular Tower Bells.  If you haven't read that page yet, you should, because it presents some of the historical and cultural context in which these patents were developed, and identifies the uses to which some of them were put.  Although few of these patents are specifically related to the use of tubular bells in tower chimes, all have some relevance to the development of tubular bells.


John Harrington, of Coventry, Warwick county, England, patented a clock-chime of tubular bells in that country in 1884.  Soon afterwards, his tubular bells were being used in England in both hall clocks and bell towers.  (Different sized tubes were used for these different applications, of course.)  Harrington's early European patents are cited in the first paragraph of the text of the first two American patents listed below.

Walter H. Durfee, working in Providence, Rhode Island, USA, began importing English clock movements and Harrington's tubular bells to the USA about 1886.  The earliest American patents were obtained by either Durfee or one of the Harringtons, as detailed below, and at first formed the basis for a monopoly on longcase chiming clocks, jointly held by Durfee and Harrington.

Later patents obtained by other inventors often cite the unsatisfactory performance of prior art.  As such, their claims refer not to entirely new inventions but to significant technical improvements which are claimed to remedy various defects in the original or preceding inventions.

American patents

All of the patents issued by the United States Patent Office are accessible online.  Follow the instructions in the next paragraph to see them while you continue to read this page.

The U.S.Patent Office Website includes both drawings and text of every patent issued.  Unfortunately, it is not possible to link directly to specific patent records of the Patent Office.  Instead, you must take these steps:

  1. Click this link to open a search window for the Patent Office database, independent of the window you are reading.  (You may wish to re-size that window so that you can still read these instructions.  And if your browser is configured to open a URL such as this in a new tab instead of a new window, you'll have to do that on your own.)
  2. In the Query box at the left of that page, enter a patent number from the list below; then click the Search button near the center of the page.  (You may include or omit the commas in patent numbers.) 
    NOTE: If instead you see a short page which says "Maximum number of users has been reached," then you must wait a while and try again later.
  3. A results page will state that "Full text is not available for this patent.  Click on 'Images' button above to view full patent."  Do that.
  4. You should now see the first page of the patent as published.  To see the next page, click the gold right-arrow button in the left column of the page; to back up, use the Back button on your browser.
  5. To view another patent, return to the patent search page again.  To do that, you can either use the Back button on that browser window or click the link above in this window (which will reset that window).

All American patents are classified under a system which is intended to group related inventions.  Every patent has a primary classification; some also have one or more secondary classifications.  The classifications relevant to our subject are as follows:

The following list of American patents states the patent number, the year in which the patent was awarded (which may not be the same as the year in which the application was filed), and the patent classification(s).
For each patent, "Who" names the inventor to whom the patent was awarded.  In some cases, the inventor is identified as "assignor to" another person or a business, so that the latter had actual control and use of the patent.
For each patent, "What" shows the title of the patent, followed by a very brief summary of its claim(s).

#372,849 - 1887 - 84/103
Who: John Harrington, of Coventry, England, assignor to Walter H. Durfee, of Providence, Rhode Island, USA
What: Chiming Apparatus for Clocks - a combination of a series of suspended tubes with a chiming mechanism using a series of hammers, with a pattern-surface (e.g., a cylinder) having pins or projections to operate the hammers.
#389,841 - 1888 - 116/169
Who: John Harrington, assignor to Durfee
What: Tubular Resonator - the use of one or more vertically suspended tubular bells as substitutes for conventional bells or gongs struck by hand (this matter not being covered by the prior patent)
#439,965 - 1890 - 116/169
Who: William Matthews, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
What: Chime for Clocks - diatonic octave of rods or bars, tuned and suspended vertically, with sounding box
#485,542 - 1892 - 116/169, 116/149
Who: John Harrington, assignor to Durfee
What: Musical Instrument - such bells improved for producing musical tones
#568,816 - 1896 - 116/169, 84/403, D10/116
Who: James E. Treat, of Boston, Massachusetts, assignor to United States Tubular Bell Company, of Methuen, Massachusetts
What: Tubular Bell - a tubular bell which was reinforced by an annular ring inside and/or outside of the top edge, which was the point of strike for the hammer; cites the unsatisfactory performance of prior art, especially the diametric pin; this clearly refers to one of the possibilities covered by Harrington's 1892 patent.
#656,603 - 1900 - 116/169, 84/403
Who: Allen W. Harrington, of New York, NY, assignor to Harris & Harrington, of the same city
What: Tubular Bell for Chiming Clocks - cites unsatisfactory prior art in the form of tubes with end plates, diametric pins, or plugs.  The patent claim is based on the addition of diaphragms at both ends of the tube, with a small axial perforation in the one at the top and a larger axial perforation in the one at the bottom.
#663,085 - 1900 - 116/169, 84/406
Who: Rowland H. Mayland, of Freeport, NY, assignor to "the" Bawo & Dotter, New York, NY
What: Clock Chime - with 8 tubes, detailing the method of suspension and mechanism
#679,458 - 1901 - 116/169
Who: Allen Wardner Harrington, of New York, NY, assignor to Harris & Harrington, "of same place"
What: Tubular Bell for Chiming Clocks - specifying that the top end of the tube be nearly closed by a spun shape, with a small hole in the center, and with no stiffening devices anywhere.  (Several alternate shapes, including hemispherical, were specified.)
#685,045 - 1901 - 116/169
Who: Charles A. Jacques, of New York City, assignor to "Bawo & Dotter, New York, N.Y., a corporation of New Jersey."
What: Clock-Chime - focussed on several variations of a hammer mechanism for striking tubular bells
#686,301 - 1901 - 116/169
Who: Jacques, assignor to Bawo & Dotter
What: Tubular Bell - various types of improvements on prior art, including a solid cap closing the top of the tube, a transverse tube enclosing the supporting cable, and tuning by means of cutting away part of the tube or perforating or notching it
#718,388 - 1903 - 116/169
Who: Albert Schoenhut, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (without initial report of assignment)
What: Musical Instrument - a tubular bell in which strengthening near the suspension and striking points was accomplished by forming annular grooves of various shape. (These grooves appear on the interior of the tube as annular ridges.) Schoenhut specifically anticipated use in chiming-clocks, though his diagram shows striking with a hammer and the text recognizes "other uses that may readily suggest themselves."
#760,070 - 1904 - 116/169
Who: Jacques, assignor to Bawo & Dotter
What: Chiming-clock - an improvement to chiming clock bell frames
#864,461 - 1907 - 116/169, 84/402, 446/421
Who: Henry Gibbs, of Austin, Illinois
What: Chime - what is now called a "wind chime", though Gibbs envisioned it as being rung manually as a summons (e.g., to dinner).
#1,057,003 - 1913 (application dated 1910) - 116/169
Who: Rowland H. Mayland (without initial report of assignment)
What: Tubular Bell - yet another variation in reinforcement of the tube top.  One of the witnesses to the Specification of the patent, Edwin S. Mayland, was the son of Rowland H. Mayland.  This design was used by Mayland for the tubular bells of the tower chime that he built about this time for the new Church-in-the-Gardens, Forest Hills, NY.

Other patents were later issued for a variety of other improvements to clock chime mechanisms; all were assigned to various clock making companies.

#644,817 - 1900 - 84/402, 116/169
#734,676 - 1903 - 116/169, 84/403
#818,874 - 1906 - 116/169, 84/402, 84/403
#864,771 - 1907 - 116/169, 84/403
#890,341 - 1908 - 116/169, 84/404, 340/388.4, 340/392.5
#1,052,713 - 1913 - 116/169
Who: John C. Deagan of Chicago, Illinois
What: (Various musical instruments based on tubular resonators; but no patent has been found that relates directly to the large tubes which Deagan began using for tower chimes about 1916.)
#1,361,084 - 1920 - 116/169
Who: Leonard D. Morris, of Chicago (without initial report of assignment)
What: Chime Mounting - numerous variations of tube suspension; refers to "the proper guiding of dampers for the mounted chimes".
#1,691,295 - 1928 - 84/407, 116/169, 340/388.1, 340/392.1
Who: Frederick E. Little, of Chicago, assignor to "J.C.Deagan, Inc., of Chicago, Illinois, a corporation of Illinois"
What: Musical Sound-producing Instrument - involves both a horizontal electric striker and a vertical electric damper above the top of a vertically-hung sound-producing cylindrical bar
#2,400,125 - 1943 - 116/169, 340/392.4
Who: Louis A. Maas, of Glendale, California
What: Balanced Suspension for Chimes - used electric strikers and dampers; but the details of the drawings seem to indicate that this mechanism was more suited for use in organs than in towers.

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This page was created 2005/03/10 and last revised 2015/01/08.

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