1807 ship bell
April 25, 2008 at 8:22 pm #10794
Does anyone know if Paul Revere cast his name into the ship bells he made or just the name of the vessel and year? My dated 1807 ship bell (Enterprize Of New York) looks a lot like the Revere style. Ht 15″, width 14 1/2″, bronze, wt approx 70#. I’ve had no luck researching the ship. Enterprise (Enterprize) was commonly used in the naming of 19th century vessels.
April 27, 2008 at 2:55 pm #13530Rita WalkerMember
You have given me something to think about. I’m from “Paul Revere” country, and I was not aware that he cast ship’s bells. ❓ Please advise.
April 27, 2008 at 3:08 pm #13534
Revere cast small hand bells for use at the dining table all the way up to tower bells weighing tons. I think I recall an article many years ago that stated he only put his name on the tower bells but I can’t be positive. This is an 1805 Revere advert from the Paul Revere House website mentioning ship bells.
April 27, 2008 at 3:12 pm #13529
The original bell for the USS Constitution (1797) was cast by Revere. The ship’s current bell was installed in the 1930’s. I don’t know the whereabouts of the original and haven’t been able to find it in any internet document pertaining to the Constitution.
April 28, 2008 at 2:46 pm #13532hjlongMember
You may get information from the Naval Historical Center at the Washington Navy Yard, Washington, DC at
. The USS Enterprise was a 12-gun Sloop launched from Baltimore 12/17/1799 and distinguished itself fighting French Privateers and in the Battles of the Barbary Coast. It was rebuilt and recommissioned as a Brig from the Washington Navy Yard 5/20/1812 and served in the Carribean until it grounded off of Little Curacao 7/9/1823. A bell with 1807 would not likely have come from this ship and would unlikely have been a Paul Revere since the ship underwent no repairs in Boston. If the Bell were to be a Paul Revere Bell, the ship would likely have been built in Boston. There was an HMS Enterprise that was launched in England in 1807(formerly the HMS Resource1778-1806) but never came to America and was decommisioned a few years later. This bell likely came from a commercial ship that was built in Boston, if the bell is a genuine Paul Revere. In any event, the bell is a beauty and I’m sure is a prized possession.
Harry Long, MD
April 28, 2008 at 4:08 pm #13538
Thanks for your input Dr Long. I’ve only had this bell a year. A friend who is an antiques dealer found it in a private household tag sale in Texas and offered it to me. After forty years of bell interest I knew items like this didn’t come on the market often.
April 28, 2008 at 7:58 pm #13533Rita WalkerMember
Thanks for forwarding the advertisement of Revere bells. I have that ad in my own files, but I have never actually read or learned anything more about a Paul Revere “ship’s bell”. It does make for interesting reading however.
I’ve been thinking about your bell ever since I first viewed it. My specialty is smaller bells, but I thought I’d write down my thoughts about your bell, for whatever they’re worth.
#1 It’s my feeling that Revere signed all his bells, and that the tradition continued with his sons.
#2 Your bell is beautiful, however it doesn’t “smack” as a Revere bell to me. The style is too different.
#3 The spelling of the word…”Enterprize” just doesn’t sound American to me. I think it’ may be an English bell or perhaps a French one, (the “z” in the spelling strikes me as possibly French.)
#4 It has such a decorative “crown-style” handle. I don’t see how it ever could have been mounted on a ship. There would be no way to fasten it.
I have in my possession a copy of the actual full-size blueprint that was drawn up for one of the bells that was mounted on the “U.S. Frigate Constitution” which is permanently berthed here in Boston Harbor. The top of the bell is definitely made for mounting. The “flight-style” ball clapper aka striker is hung from a cast mechanism that goes through the entire neck of the bell and ends up with an “acorn” style finial at the top. This “neck” is attached within the extended arm of the bracket. The whole thing is then ready for mounting. A braided rope lanyard is attached to the “flight” style clapper which permits it to be rung conveniently by hand.
I hope I’ve added more “food for thought”.
April 28, 2008 at 9:12 pm #13536
Thanks for your interest Rita. Entreprise is the French spelling. It doesn’t seem logical the British would have named a ship after an American state or city during the period not distant from the revolution. They didn’t like us and we didn’t like them, to put it mildly, and the 1812 war was just 5 years in the future. As far as I can tell from my web research, enterprize has never existed in correct British or American English. My hunch is it was deliberately misspelled to set it apart because so many ships had the word enterprise in their names. Does that make sense or not? Bells with crown finials such as mine were secured to an overhead wood beam with iron rods. The tang finial containing one or two bolt holes was a later improvement for mounting. By the 1840’s bells were being cast with one or more bolt holes in the bell’s top. Again, thanks for replying. It’s interesting to me to imagine all the places this bell has been in 2 centuries.
April 29, 2008 at 3:57 am #13537Neil GoeppingerParticipant
What a nice bell. I pulled out my copy of “The Bells of Paul Revere, His Sons & Grandsons” by Edward and Evelyn Stickney, which is the most definitive research on the subject, as far as I know. First, I can’t tell from the small picture posted to the ABA site what the reed counts and locations are. They were the fingerprint of each bell founder. Revere used heavy reeds. There were two reeds just below the thickest part of the sound bow, then three at the bottom of the waist, then two below the inscription and two above it, all of which is just below the shoulder of the bell, then on the top of the bell there were two a little above the shoulder, then a space, and then another single reed. Above that final single reed, there was a raised area on top of the bell which is where the crown was attached. His crowns were unique to him. The four outer “fingers” (for want of a better term) were square, and the center post was also square, with a step down in size part way up it. This square center post of the crown was very unusual, and unique to Revere as far as I’ve been able to determine. Most crown center posts were round.
In a conversation with Edward Stickney, he verified that Revere often did not put an inscription on bells smaller than 24″ in diameter.
My own views follow. Like other firms, they would have sold many bells smaller than 24″, so they would cast them up ahead of orders and then sell them as orders came in. Thus they didn’t want a date on them as they didn’t know what year they would be sold. Also, there was likely more price competition in this size, so by reducing work, they could reduce their cost.
Isn’t history and bell research fun? The more we learn, the more we realize we don’t know. There is always history we will never know. One of the most intriguing aspects of history to me is when we get conflicting answers to a question from different reputable sources and we have to choose based on other observations. The more digging I do, the more I realize this is a major part of what historians do. When we watch a presentation on the History Channel, or read a historical book, there are always many assumptions which their authors hope are correct. They use their best educated guess. Well, enough on that subject. — Neil
April 29, 2008 at 12:08 pm #13535
Thanks Neil, that’s a lot of information. I didn’t realize a book had been written on Revere’s bells. This bell has a slightly different reed pattern. The reeds are heavy. There is one about 5/8 inch from the bottom edge, two just above the sound bow, two above and two below the inscription, and two just above the shoulder. The crown is just as you described with the four-cornered center post tapering up. Ive read that Paul’s son was working with him during this period. Could the son have possibly used his own distinctive reed pattern on bells he cast? Mike
I’ve added a photo to my Detroit bell post of last year.
April 30, 2008 at 3:28 am #13531Neil GoeppingerParticipant
Revere did work with his sons, and then later his grandsons came into the business, so perhaps there was a change of reed pattern. The Stickneys could likely look at photos of other Revere bells made the same year as your bell and tell you if they have seen any variation in the reed count and placement. If the crown and center post are the same, that’s pretty strong evidence it was made by Revere. — Neil
October 16, 2008 at 12:54 pm #13539
According to Lloyd’s Register Of Shipping, the Enterprize Of New York was built at New Bedford, Massachusetts, 230 tons, owned by Kemp & Co, and captained by R Brown. I contacted the National Maritime Museum in Liverpool England (liverpoolmuseums.org.uk) and the assistant curator provided me with the information. Thought this might be useful to others who have a ship bell with the name of the vessel on it.
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