Welcome to the ABA! Bell Talk Forums Large Bells Bronze Bell from Scotland

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    • #11335

      Robert in Arkansas writes:

      How does one know the value of a bell? I have a bronze bell from Scotland cast in 1780. It reads in Latin: ” I am the gift of the Duke of Argyll 1780″ the diameter is 18.5″. It came from the Scottish Borders. Has the original clapper.

      It has not been cleaned in any way, and looks original. Can anyone tell me how to find a value?

      If you 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.


    • #15492

      This is a beauty. I do not know the manufacturer, but these bells weree usually cast for use on an estate or a school that was supported by the named individual. This bell is likely 250 years old and was probably cast by a local bell founder.
      Harry Long, MD

    • #15493

      I recently managed to obtain some back issues of the bell talk, including some really old ones. I have been reading them as I have time and recall an article discussing bells of this size and general type. I am wondering if this might be the same?

      Basically, as I recall, the article mentioned that bell makers traveled to the spot where the bell was to be used. They brought the raw materials and built a small forge on site. The bells were then made right where they were to be used. This, if I am remembering right, was to avoid the problems of transporting finished bells which had a tendency to crack during transit. The article specifically was about a church bell, but that was only the example the author used.

      So it might be a traveling bell maker rather than a local one if that is the case.

      Just a thought!


    • #15494

      Hi all, by now many of us bell responders have looked up the Duke of Argyll and found many generations of Scotage history. In looking at this history 1780 seems quite late, this must have been around the 10th, or so, Duke of Argyll. Could not find anything special about the 1780 Duke. Putting this history aside lets look at the bell, to bad we have only one picture to work from. This is a complement to Carolyn and her ring-a-ding crew of experts. Give us a picture and we will give you a 1000 words, maybe one picture is enough. The bell is 18” diameter and approx18” high including that outstanding complex crowning, the inscription is Latin. Latin is one of the important keys for general dating. During the 1700 there was a shift in the lanuage on bells from Latin to local lanuage. What the Scots were talking in the 1700s I have no idea, but Latin seems to be proment. Having only approx outside dimentions and no idea how thick the bell is it is hard to guess the weight. I have a few 18” bells and using them I would guess 140 pounds. I do not belive that this was done by a wandering bell maker, these are called “itinerant bell casters”. This bell is beautifully made with clear detail that only a foundry can produce. Most itierant casters did not have the skill to produce this level of work, most were illerate and carried only the basic tools, living off the township till the bell was cast. For a rundown on these workers see The Bell Tower, March/April 2008, page 8-12, “The 1356 Mission Bells“.
      This bell was done in an English, (Scot ?), or perhaps French foundry. Bells are tough and do not break unless mistreated. This one is tough enough to be transported on a cart easy. This is a show piece bell that has PROVENANCE. Everything. It would be my guess that a museum or university would like to have it.
      Max Kurillo

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