I have posession of a bell that is approx 25 inches in diameter and 181/2 inches high. It is marked Cast by John Wilbank Philadelphia 1824.
I own the Chapel where this bell was used. Can anyone help me research my bell?
Jan: This past week I was working with Joep von Brussel, V-P of Royal Dutch Eijsbouts Bell Foundry, Asten, Holland. We were asked to review a bell at a chapel in west Tennessee. The bell was a J Wilbanks 1832 23″ diameter crown top bell. Mr. von Brussel indicated that the bell was German in profile, and sounded a perfect musical note G#. Archives list J. Wilbanks foundry as an obscure foundry in Germantown, Pa.
Do you have any additional information on this foundry?
John Wilbank was a little known bell founder in Germantown, PA who was contracted by the city of Philadelphia to cast a 4000 pound replacement for the “Liberty Bell” for use in the clock tower of the old State House (Independence Hall) in 1828. He received the “Liberty Bell” for a $400 discount if he would remove it from the clock tower. He defaulted as it would have cost him more than $400 to remove the cracked bell. He did however cast the 4000 bell and gave it to the city in return for the city dropping the lawsuit against him for breach of contract. If he had removed the bell, we would never have had the “Liberty Bell” that we venerate today. It would have been melted down as scrap to be incorporated in the current clock tower bell at Independence Hall. Wilbank’s bell designs had ridges on them that suggest the influence of Paul Revere. Wilbank bells are much desired by collectors.
Harry Long, MD