Difference between #1 and #2 Cast Iron Bell

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Difference between #1 and #2 Cast Iron Bell

Postby admin » Sun Feb 22, 2009 1:02 am

Alex in Illinois asks:
Hello and greetings from Springfield, Illinois.
Where would I begin to find the difference between a #1 Cast Bell and a #2 Cast Iron Bell?
I have seen both types posted on eBAY and wanted to know for sure what I am going to purchase.
Again, Thanks in Advance,'

This inquiry was originally sent to the ABA's Internet Coordinator. Responses are opinions of individuals based on their personal research and knowledge.
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Re: Difference between #1 and #2 Cast Iron Bell

Postby lucky13 » Sun Feb 22, 2009 10:23 am

Alex: Farm bells (dinner bells) were very useful items in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and every rural household had one but after tractors replaced horses it was difficult to hear a far-away bell, according to my grandparents. The numbers indicate size. Number 1 bells are about 14 inches (dia across mouth of bell), number 2 about 16, number 3 about 18, and number 4 about 20. Some foundries also made a zero size which is about 13 inches. These sizes are approximate depending on the maker. Buy an old bell if you can. The reproductions of the last 30 years don't compare in sound. Most old bells have the foundry name and sometimes it's location cast into them. I advise searching for your bell in antique malls and shops rather than on-line so you can hear it, check for damage or missing parts, and not have to pay shipping (these bells are very heavy), or risk damage by a shipping company.
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Re: Difference between #1 and #2 Cast Iron Bell

Postby janeardis » Sun Feb 22, 2009 7:49 pm


I agree with lucky13's reponse to your regarding the diff of #1 vs. #2 cast iron bells; regarding size, plus looking for your bell were you can examine it.
We have a #2 older cast iron; mounted by our country home back door, it's used for calling in us for meal time or some one has come to visit, plus ringing out the old year and ringing in the new year. Was found at a flea market rusty but with sanding and spray paint it looks great. When we found one at an estate auction; purchased it for a gift to our daughter & son-in-law who have a lake side home, they use there's also.
According to a Sears, Roebuck & Co catalog from 1897; their #1 bell was 15" & weighted 40lbs w/hangings, cost $0.94 each. #2 bell was 17" d, weighted 50lbs, sold for $1.20. While a #3 bell was 19"d, weighted 75lbs,coast $1.65. #4 had a 21"d, weighted 100lbs, cost $2.40. Is'nt that amazing to us!!!
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Re: Difference between #1 and #2 Cast Iron Bell

Postby Neil Goeppinger » Sun Feb 22, 2009 11:32 pm

I agree with all that has been contributed on this subject, but I'll throw in one ringer. There was no standardization in the numbering and sizes. For some companies the sizes were 12", 14", 16" and 18" in diameter. That's not so bad, but a few companies called their LARGEST one their #1, and their smallest dinner bell their #4. Thus, if you are looking at a bell on ebay, don't just look at the number used by the foundry, get the diameter of the mouth of the bell. -- Neil
I collect U.S. church and fire tower bells and research the foundries which made them.
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