We (Town of Guilford, Maine) have a bell that came from the Guilford Methodist church, constructed in 1872 and dismantled in 1971. It bears the inscription, Blake Bell Co., but your site states that company name did not apply before 1890. I wish to accurately describe it in our Town Report, so would appreciate any available clarification.
I have attached some photos from summer. If you zoom in, Blake Bell Company is very legible, and the numeral 4 is clear on the frame, at the top. I will remove the present snow covering to see what else may be intelligible. If the town decides to insure it, could you estimate its value?
I believe the idea that the bell was either added well after construction of the church, or perhaps was a replacement bell makes sense. It appears that all sources agree that the Blake Bell Company imprint did not appear before 1890.
Thanks again for your help.
I have contacted some of our big bell experts and here's what they had to say:
I'm responding to your inquiry to the ABA about a Blake bell in your town. Your message gives the date of construction of the building in which the bell hung, but doesn't say whether the bell itself carried a date as part of its inscription. Most bellfounders date their products, though undated bells are not rare. Also, the size of a bell sometimes affects how the maker words his identifying inscription.
Another consideration in dating a bell is that while churches commonly installed one when a building was constructed, that wasn't always the case. They could have waited a few years to acquire one, since bells were expensive objects. Also, it is possible that an original bell could have been replaced at a later date, either because it cracked or because someone wanted to have a larger (or better) bell.
If your bell carries the words "Blake Bell Co.", I would expect that it was made not earlier than 1890. Anything which came from that foundry in the preceding 20 years would have carried the name "William Blake & Co."
Of course, there are always new things to be learned, and old things waiting to be discovered, so I could be wrong. A photo of the inscription of your bell would be helpful.
Carl Scott Zimmerman
Ask for all the lettering on the bell and A-frame. Very important !!!
William Blake was an apprentice of Paul Revere. William Blake was involved with, and owned, several metal casting companies in private & with partners from 1820 to 1890.
In this historic time period, firms opened & closed based on the individual financer decision to fund, to continue funding, or to withdraw funding, in order to participate in another financial endeavor. If a financial partner withdrew, it was necessary for the principal owner, usually the craftsman, to locate another individual as a source of funding. A change in the funding partner typically required a name change. (Today, this funding is accomplished by the stock market.)
In 1823, Paul Revere III, Wm. Blake & John Sullivan founded the Boston & Braintree Co. The bells cast are not dated. This same year, the foundry’s name was changed to Boston Copper Co. The Boston Copper Co. closed in 1830. Boston Copper Co. bells are dated.
In 1830-1868, Wm. Blake partnered with Henry N. Hooper, & Richardson forming the Hooper, Blake & Richardson Company located in Boston, casting bells.
In 1859 to 1890, Wm. Blake & Henry Hooper formed another bell foundry: Henry N. Hooper & Co., also known as Hooper & Co. in Boston. Hooper bells dated 1859 are located at St. Paul’s Methodist Church in Lynn, Mass., and Old Round Church in Richmond, Vermont.
W. Blake & Company located at Allen Streets in Boston, Massachusetts was in operation from 1820 to 1890. At that time, he operated under the names of W. Blake & Co. and Blake Bell Co. In 1825, Blake cast the first set of chimes by an American foundry. (Previously, all chimes were cast in Europe.) Two chimes were cast: one of eight bells and one of eleven bells. The largest bell weighed 3,000 pounds.
In 1881, the Blake, Lamb & Co. at Brighton & Allen Streets in Waterbury, Connecticut was in operation. Little is recorded of this company.
Zell’s Business Directory of 1881
Ed & Evelyn Stickney in Bedford, Massachusetts
That Vanishing Sound
Thank you, Carl, Joe, and John, for your quick replies! I'm sure they'll be very helpful to Tom and to many others over time! I appreciate your participation! And kudos to Tom for caring enough to make an effort to "get it right" and make note of this bell's history as part of the Town's official records!
If anyone else can help, please post a response.
This inquiry was originally sent to the ABA's Internet Coordinator. Responses are opinions of individuals based on their personal research and knowledge.