Trying to find out info on a very large bronze bell with USN on it. I obtained the bell from the U.S. Maritime Administration under the maritime artifact loan program for a school. Typically, MARAD has some info on artifacts, but nothing on the bell. It does have JL stamped in a hidden area along with a number. I was thinking the JL is for the foundry.
The bell is 30″ and weighs about 300 pounds. I would like to do a plaque for the school where the bell is with info concerning the foundry and the ship. The bell came from the Beaumont Reserve Fleet.
You may be able to get some information from the Navy Historical Center at the Washington Navy Yard (http://www.history.navy.mil). Most Naval Ship’s Bells were cast at Naval Ship Yards and were often reused when older ships were decommissioned. If it does not have the name of the ship engraved on it, you will probably have a hard time tracing its origin. There were various sized bells used for comunication aboard ship and were located in different compartments. The sailing ships had large Bronze bells that were used to identify the ship’s location in a fog. This function was superceded by the steam whistle when the steamships came into vogue and the bells became smaller and served a more ceremonial use in “piping” sailors aboard and in ringing the watches.
Harry Long, MD