California Mission Bell

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California Mission Bell

Postby admin » Sun Jul 29, 2007 12:02 pm

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Beth writes and asks:

My name is Beth and I live in Riverside,Ca. I am posting to ask for your help in regards to a bell I recently acquired at an auction. The bell is 15" at the mouth and nearly 15" high. Around the rim of the bell is inscribed "JUNIPERO SERRA 1713-1784 CALIFORNIA". There are two Franciscian insignias, one between 1713 and 1784 and the other between CALIFORNIA and JUNIPERO. There are also two Raincross insignias on either side of the body of the bell. The Raincross insignia was designed and patented by Frank Miller, founder of the Mission Inn in Riverside,Ca, in 1907. In 1908, he "gave" it to the city of Riverside. It is our city symbol and is used throughout the city, on everything from city stamps, lampposts, jewerly, bridges, even tattoos!

I have found this same bell in the lobby of the Mission Inn, which is displayed in a wooden form near the entrance. I have found reference to two bells that were once displayed in wooden Raincross forms at the east end of the lobby ("The Mission Inn's History and Artifacts" by Esther Klotz,1983). I am having a difficult time finding any other information or reference to these two bells. The Mission Inn Museum cannot find any information on them either, as they are not logged in the catalog records of over 800 bells that were once at the Mission Inn.

After Frank Miller and his children passed away, the grandchildren sold the Inn, and it went downhill quickly. Many of the articles that were once there were sold or stolen or thrown away. Many of the records and guest books have yet to be found.

What I am trying to find out is when these bells were cast. For some reason, I seem to think that Frank Miller had them cast for the lobby about 1907-8. But as I said, I cannot find it in writing. I have read thru so many books and websites, I don’t have a clue where I got the information from, or if I even did. I did speak to the current owner of the California Bell Co, and he said that his company could, or likely did, cast them, but since he is not the original owner of the company, he could not be certain. He seemed to think that it might have been cast around 1920 or earlier.

There are no other markings on this bell, except on the top of the shoulder(?). I am not positive it is even a mark. But if I had to guess, I would say possibly B 13 . I cannot make it out for sure. Could this be a number that would identify the proper clapper, maybe? (By the way, it is missing its clapper.)

The questions I am trying to get answered are these:

1) what the letters and/or numbers might possibly mean

2) who made the bell

3) When the bell was made

4) If anyone knows where I might find more info and/or pics of the bells when they were in the lobby

5) Where I might be able to purchase a clapper for it (perferably an old one from the early 1900's)

6) What size it would need to be

7) If anyone could give me a collectors guesstamate as to what the market value might be.

Just thru trying to find out information I have had several offers, yet I'm in the dark as to how much would be appropriate, or even in the ball park. I've had offers from $400.00 to $3,300.00. I haven’t pursued the sale of it yet. I've been too busy trying to find more info. If there is anyone out there that could help me, I would be most grateful.


Admin

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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Postby Carolyn Whitlock » Sun Jul 29, 2007 12:28 pm

Junipero Serra (1713-1784) was an extremely important figure in the development of present-day California. His missions not only served as the centerpiece to the development of Catholicism in California, but also as a key foundation to the growth of metropolitan cities such as San Francisco, San Jose, and San Diego. His legacy still remains along the former El Camino Real (the present day Hwy 101 & San Diego Freeway) in the form of twenty-one missions, nine of which he personally founded and developed. Each has its own individual identity, history, and unique traditions.

There were nine of missions founded by Serra before his death in 1784. These missions were:
San Diego, July 16, 1769; San Carlos de Monterey (Carmel), June 3, 1770; San Antonio de Padua, July 14, 1771; San Gabriel, Sept. 8, 1771; San Luis Obispo, Sept. 1, 1772; San Francisco (Dolores), Oct. 9, 1776; San Juan Capistrano, Nov. 1, 1776; Santa Clara, Jan. 18, 1777; San Buena Ventura, March 31, 1782.

Following Serra's death, an additional twelve new missions were founded in the following order: Santa Barbara, Dec. 4, 1786; La Purisima, Dec. 8, 1787; Santa Cruz, Sept. 25, 1791; Soledad, Oct. 9, 1791; San Jose, June 11, 1797; San Juan Bautista, June 24, 1797; San Miguel, July 25, 1797; San Fernando Rey, Sept. 8, 1797; San Luis Rey de Francia, June 18, 1798; Santa Ines, Sept. 7, 1804; San Rafael Arcangel, 1817; and, San Francisco de Solano, 1823.
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Re: Riverside Mission Inn Bell

Postby bestofn10uns » Sun Jul 29, 2007 4:02 pm

Thank you Carolyn for posting my information. I received a message from John that his company, California Bells, did not make my bell. I guess this puts me back at square one. I hope that someone can see something on the bell that will help to identify the foundry that made it or the time frame that it was made. :?

I have pictures that can be viewed at http://www.picturetrail.com On the upper right side, search Member ID: Bestofn10uns then click on my bell album.

Thank you, everyone, for taking the time to try to help me.
Have a Blessed Day..Beth
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Postby Peter Hyde » Tue Jul 31, 2007 1:08 am

Great photos, great bell!

Good luck with your research.

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Update On Mission Inn Bell- Riverside International Raceway?

Postby bestofn10uns » Thu Aug 02, 2007 11:52 am

Hi again, everyone. I have a new twist in my quest for information on my Mission Inn bell. I went to the Mission Inn over the weekend and got the information off the plaque.

It reads: [color=darkred]"Mission Bell Trophy Presented May 1st, 1966 As A Perpetual Trophy By The Historical Mission Inn, Riverside, Ca. To Be Permanently Displayed In The Lobby Of The Mission Inn Honoring The Winners Of The Mission Bell Trophy In Competition At Our Famous Riverside International Raceway"[/color]

I spoke to a docent from The Mission Inn Museum, and he said he believed the bell in the lobby was a replica bell. He could not recall where he would have gotten that information. As I said before, neither The Mission Inn nor The Mission Inn Museum have found any records on either of the bells.

I do not know much about the Riverside International Raceway, and I know even less about the Mission Bell Races that were held there. I have found few references to these races. But I have yet to find a picture of a winning driver with a trophy. The earliest reference I could find was to the SCCA 3rd Annual Mission Bell 250 Race/ Trans-Am Sedan Championship on Sept. 8th, 1968. There was also another Mission Bell 200 Race on Oct. 4th, 1970. I don’t know if these races were exclusive to RIR nor if they were exclusive to SCCA Trans-Am only.


Just my own personal thought, if I may. It seems very odd to me that the Mission Inn would dedicate such a large bell to such an internationally recognized establishment without having some type of reference to the Mission Bell Race or the RIR race track on it. On the other hand, Frank miller was definitely the type of person to have a bell representative of Junipero Serra made.
The following quote is from The Mission Inn Museums website:

""In 1908, Frank Miller copyrighted the “Raincross” symbol, complete with a bell at the center. The bell imagery in the Raincross design certainly reflects a Mission-style influence......In addition to the city-wide use of the Raincross symbol, the mission theme is expressed in other ways. For example, a cross and plaque commemorating Father Junipero Serra was dedicated by President William Howard Taft and can be found at the top of Mount Rubidoux, to the west of downtown Riverside.""http://www.missioninnmuseum.com/lessonPlans/cm_lp_3rd.htm

It just seems odd to me that even a replica cast of this type might have been made for a Grand Prix race, considering the time era. It was the mid 60's-- RIR was becoming more and more popular and race car driving had become much more refined. Besides that, society had evolved more toward the "peace and free love" type of thing and not so much of the 'Founder Of The California Missions/St. Francis/ Founder Of Riverside and its Raincross symbol" type of thing. (No disrespect intended, I just couldn’t find the right words to express myself)

The Mission Inn had been sold by Frank Miller's grandchildren in the 1950's. The new owner, Ben Swig, had many financial difficulties during his ownership. So much so that he sold many of the Mission Inn artifacts, paintings and bells to try to keep the Mission Inn open. If in fact it does cost quite a bit of money to have a bell of that size made, as I have been told, it seems unlikely to me that Mr. Swig would have incurred such an expense. Could it be, perhaps, possible that he used one of the existing bells?

I am looking for theorys, suggestions, photos,info- anything anyone can offer- on this bell OR the Mission Bell Races.
I am hoping that someone out there will be able to shed some light on this, since I am...

Still In The Dark... Riding With Blinders

Beth
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Your "mission bell"

Postby vhhare » Sun Aug 05, 2007 12:52 pm

See my post curious about a bell in Big Bells. It too has the Raincross symbol with the words Mission Inn along the base of the symbol. I'll send some pics if you want.
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