Welcome to the ABA! Bell Talk Forums Large Bells G. W. Coffin Bell Re: Re: G. W. Coffin Bell

Neil Goeppinger

Hello Mike, You’ve got a VERY nice bell, for your first bell. G. W. Coffin and another firm were the only one’s which made highly ornamented bells in the U.S. Yours is not so highly ornamented, but some of their large bells had dancing girls with veils circleing the bell, and many had puti doing different things circleling the top.

You are correct about the metal. All Coffin bells were bronze – 78 to 80% copper and the remainder tin. They were gold color when new, then with age, after about 80 years the tin flecks which didn’t completely amalgumate with the copper work their way to the surface as the copper is washed off by condensation (the bell changes temperature more slowly than the air) so the bell takes on a silver or grey color. If you polish it lightly, it shines like a tin can. If you agressively polish it, you remove the thin coat of tin and it again looks gold.

G. W. Coffin stood for George Washington Coffin. His folks must have thought alot of our country’s founding father. After Vanduzen took over the foundry, he changed the shape of the bells which improved the tone, but he also dropped the ornamentation.

As to why your bell is not dated, often smaller bells were made up for inventory to fill orders as they came in. They didn’t want dated ones on hand in case they didn’t sell that year (like dated Christmas tree ornaments). Large bells weren’t cast until ordered, so they were almost always dated.

Welcome to the American Bell Association. I hope you really enjoy your bell. I collected for quite a while before I came across a G. W. Coffin bell. You are fortunate to start out by finding one. — Neil