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Books about tower bells

In spite of the usefulness of the World Wide Web, printed books retain their importance as handy repositories of well-organized information, in a format that is easier on the eyes than an illuminated computer screen.  Here we present a selective bibliography of books that are related to tower bells, either in their entirety or in a significant part.  Each entry is accompanied by either a brief description or a full review. 

Contents: (and number of entries in each section)

Within each section, entries are presented in reverse chronological order of publication.

Recent publications

Historic Alabama Bells, by   Thomas Kaufmann
The History Press, Charleston, South Carolina, USA, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-4671-4495-7
6"x9", paperback, 160pp

>>   Review, by CSZ

This well-written book begins with an introductory chapter, followed by one which briefly identifies and locates ten early bells, ranging from an 1847 Meneely to an 1881 McShane, and including an 1849 T.I.Dyre Jr. and an 1848 Regester & Webb.  The next eight chapters alternate between the history of a significant American bell foundry and an Alabama example of its work:  Revere, 1828; Hooper, 1859; Blake, 1880 & 1894; Wilbank, 1841.  A chapter about the Liberty Bell (both the original's visit to the state in 1885 and the 1950 Paccard reproduction) is followed by twelve chapters in which the historical significance of both an old bell and the building in which it is located are covered.  A concluding chapter expresses hope for the installation of real bells in currently empty bell towers.

The book is filled with interesting black-and-white photographs of bells and buildings.  Unfortunately, many of those depicting bell inscriptions are almost impossible to decipher.  This is only partly because bells are inherently low-contrast subjects for photography.

No typographical errors were noted, and only three very minor errors of substance.  The 1887 McShane bell pictured on page 34 is not connected to a place (unless the year is a typo).  The location of the C.S.Bell foundry (mentioned on page 37) was in Hillsboro (not Hillsborough), Ohio.  The proprietorship of the Buckeye Bell Foundry in 1876 (mentioned twice on page 143) was not "Vanduzen Tift" but the partnership of E.W.Vanduzen and C.T.Tift, commonly shown on their bells as "Vanduzen & Tift". 

The author's expertise as an architectural historian shines through in the relatively extensive coverage of the histories of the buildings which house the listed bells.  That emphasis on history might explain the general lack of technical information about these bells, such as weights, sizes, and musical notes.  That might also explain the curious shift of emphasis from foundry histories in the first half of the book to building histories in the second half of the book.  It would have benefitted from more information about the histories of Naylor Vickers of England, the two Meneely foundries of New York state, McShane of Baltimore and Buckeye of Cincinnati, as well as the significant differences between bronze and steel bells and the changes in mounting methods through the decades of the 19th century.

Nevertheless, this is a very good general interest book, which may help to stir more widespread interest in the long-neglected tower bells of America.

American bellfounders

Large Bells of America, by   Neil Goeppinger
History of Church Bells, Fire Bells, School Bells, Dinner Bells and Their Foundries
Suncoast Digital Press, Inc., Sarasota, Florida, USA, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-939237-45-3
8.9"x11.4", hardcover, 180pp
>>   Click here for everything you need to know about this marvelous book,
          especially if you already own a copy!

Paul Revere & the World He Lived In, by   Esther Forbes
Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1942
>>   In this authoritative biography of a great American patriot, seven pages (470-476) are devoted to Paul Revere's work as the first important American bellfounder, and there are further mentions of that work in several other places (see the Index to find them).





This page was created 2019/11/18 and last revised on 2019/11/20.

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