I just came back from Louisiana, where I found that a lot of antebellum sugar plantation bells had decorative friezes on them.(Laurel wreaths, cupids, etc) I’m wondering how common this is; all the other plantation bells I’ve looked at have been really plain. Has anyone else run into this sort of thing? Most of the bells sem to have been cast in Cincinnati.
Hillary: Those were cast by the Buckeye Bell Foundry in Cincinnati which operated from 1837 until 1951. Their earlier bells, like the ones you saw, were highly ornamented, much more than other US foundries. Ownership of Buckeye changed in the 1860’s and it’s bells after that were much plainer in design. There’s a lot of info on Buckeye in this forum.
“Buckeye Bells” were cast by a historic foundry changed ownership four times:
C.A. Coffin Bell Foundry, Cincinati prior to 1837
G.W. Coffin Bell Foundry, Cincinnati exact dates undetermined
Vanduzen & Tift, Cincinnati, 1865-1889
E.W. Vanduzen Bell Foundry, 1894-1950
Coffin bells were typically highly decorated bells, and were most often found on paddle wheel steam river boats. The bells were occasionaly cast with 80% copper and 20% silver. (Normal bronze is 80% copper & 20% tin).