Coast Guard Bells
July 15, 2007 at 7:20 pm #10622AnonymousInactive
I am a U.S.Coast Guard Auxiliarst and I am preparing to give a talk to the personnel at Coast Guard Motor Life Boat Station Morro Bay in California. They spend a lot of time polishing a large bronze bell, but they know nothing of its history. If you could tell me who made the bell, and its original purpose, or direct me to a source of information on the bell, it would be much appreciated. I do not have a deadline, just a desire to tell the bell’s history to the people who take care of it. I understand it was brought to the Coast Guard Station in Morro Bay California in the early 1990s, and it was in California at a Coast Guard Reserve office between Cuesta Community College and Camp San Luis Obispo for a while, Before that, it was at a Coast Guard Recruiting Office in Morro Bay for a while. I know no other aspects of its history. The bell is bronze, weighs about 900 lbs., has 1946 USCG on the front of it, and what appears to be a large H at the top of the bell which may be a makers’ mark. There are three lines that also appear to be a makers’ mark of some type, but only the last line is readable as: 0 2 C 8 0. A picture of the bell, and two scans of rubbings from the bell are attached. Thank you for any assistance you can provide.
He might try looking up Coast Guard Cutters commissioned in 1946. There may have been a cutter commissioned that year, and the bell was on her also check out naval history of any cutters sunk or decommissioned after 1946 that might match up, near the California coast. If he can make the rubbings clearer or have someone enhance them may be able to identify who cast the bell.
The only US bell foundry to survive WWII was the McShane Bell Foundry in Baltimore. McShane survived because they were fortunate to have been contracted by the US Coast Guard to cast bouy bells and light house bells for the Coast Guard. This bell would have been cast by McShane.
This is the only information I found in ABA archives: Coast Guard Yard Foundry; Curtis Bay, MD Closed in 1976
Made marker bouy bells in 3 sizes: 85 lbs., 225 lbs., and 1000 lbs. Source of information: Book: “That Vanishing Sound” by L. Elsinore Springer.
July 17, 2007 at 7:00 am #13172Neil GoeppingerParticipant
I was going to suggest the Coast Guard’s own foundry which cast many bells, but it sounds like our ABA Historian already covered that. There also were other firms which cast bouy bells for the Coast Guard besides that foundry and the McShane firm, because I have one in my collection.
Are there four wear areas on the outside of the bell spaced equally around it? If not, we can rule out a bouy bell. They were cast quite thick at the sound bow to take all the wear of ringing due to constant wave action.
Look very carefully at the back side of the bell, that is the side opposite the “USCG 1946” inscription. Look for a very faint inscription of the name of the firm which made the bell. I have a bouy bell marked USLHS and the year in large letters, then in very faint letters about a quarter inch tall on the opposite side it has the firm which cast the bell. It’s almost as if they were trying to hide it. Just a suggestion. — Neil Goeppinger
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