checking navy bell authenticity?
May 16, 2012 at 9:38 pm #12053
I just bought a bell described as a US Navy quarterdeck ship’s bell. I just got it to the house and because of the engraving i’m starting to question the authenticity. Please offer your experience or comments!
it’s a brass bell that’s about 9 3/4″ across the bottom. as you can see in the picture the ‘USN’ looks to be cut out by hand (by a machine, but free hand). is that common in real USN ship’s bells? it also seems to have less corrosion inside the letters…maybe someone cleaned it out with a dremil or something? inside the bell it reads ‘anchor brass and aluminum co’. is this a real navy ships bell or have I been had???
thanks for the expert opinions!
pictures (sorry, the img was too big for the site…had to use links):
May 18, 2012 at 1:45 am #16974hjlong3Participant
The Anchor Brass & Aluminum Co. manufactured bronze Forecastle Bells for the US Navy in WWII. The CS Bell Co also cast bells for the Navy but out of steel. The Forecastle Bell is mounted with a cantilevered mounting from a flat surface or from a vertical bulkhead with a wall mounting and was used to toll the “watches” and to ring sailors ashore and aboard at the gangway. I believe that the Anchor Brass & Aluminum Co was located in Manitowoc, WI and is now known as Anchor Casting Co. The shipyards in Manitowoc produced minesweepers and a number of smaller Boats and ships. Your bell appears to be authentic.
Harry Long, MD
May 18, 2012 at 2:19 pm #16975
questions: was it common for the OEM to carve the ‘USN’ by hand? Was it common for a navy bell to even have ‘USN’ carved into the side at all?
also, did this company make bells for commercial vessels as well?
May 19, 2012 at 9:34 pm #16973hjlong3Participant
As a general rule, the letters were cast into the bells, but I’ve seen them engraved. The size of the letters is specified in Navy Regs and the design of the bell is specified. Before I retired from the Navy Reserve, my Reserve Center uses a chrome plated bell identical to yours as a Forecastle Bell at the entrance to the center. I believe that they did cast bells for commerciaql use, but I don’t know that for a fact. I have seen similar bells with USA on the skirt that were probably cast for Army Amphibious ships. During WWII, there were many ships produced and many foundries were contracted to cast bells for those ships.
Harry Long, MD
May 29, 2012 at 10:00 pm #16976
thanks again HJ!
I showed the bell to my father who came to a different conclusion than me. He thinks the ‘USN’ was carved in by the machine shop on board the boat. Long hours and nothing to do leads to random projects, I guess!
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