Welcome to the ABA! Bell Talk Forums Large Bells G.W. Coffin bell 1850 Wheeling WV

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    • #10994

      I’m new to the American Bell forums… I found an older conversation about G.W. Coffin bells on the “big bell” forum during a google search. In the process of acquiring a church building, we were surprised to find an 1850 G.W.Coffin, Buckeye Foundry Cinncinnati bell in the belltower. There are images at http://historicsecondpresbyterian.org/bell.html

      The main priority is to properly “dust it off” and free up the bell in it’s cradle… but we’re not doing anything until we have some authoritative information. Any G.W. Coffin info would be welcome. I’ve found the general Buckeye Foundry info posted on your forums very interesting.

      Richard Pollack, Wheeling WV

    • #14177


      Welcome to the “Bell Talk” Forum! It’s people like you who help keep this forum active and interesting! While you are waiting for some info from some of our big bell experts, you may want to check out the postings on this forum: viewforum.php?f=16

      That’s a beautiful bell! I’m sure you will receive some suggestions for the love and care of your bell!

      Good luck!

    • #14178

      A very nice bell. If you are going to remove it from the belfry for display don’t risk life or limb. It’s a job for a professional crane operator. Coffin must have sold his cherub/globe pattern to foundries down the river. I’ve seen it on bells cast in Madison, Indiana (Garret) and Louisville, Kentucky (Kaye). The 2-piece wheel, like yours, is seldom seen. Here’s an illustration of Cincinnati’s Buckeye Bell Foundry on Second St as it appeared in 1875. This is the building where your bell was cast. Later, the foundry moved east of downtown. The largest swinging bell in the world (at that time/1895) was cast there. The mouth was 9 feet across and the bell was named Big Joe (see photo). The eagle finial is impressive. Riverfront Stadium was built over the Second St area around 1970. The stadium was demolished a few years ago and I don’t know what is there now.

    • #14179

      Your bell is a typical Coffin bell. The cherub pattern was used on the larger bells. The bracket is unique to Coffin bells and can be unstable. If you plan to remove the bell, be careful of the bracket & wheel, as they can be easily broken. This bell needs cleaning to remove years of bird droppings and the steel hardware needs a portective coat of paint. The size is important in determining its value. You have a beauty that is treasured by collctors of large bronze bells.
      Harry Long, MD

    • #14180

      I just wanted to thank everyone who’s posted such great information. I wasn’t expecting to find an image of the foundry itself. Also, I’ll will continue to visit the big bell forum and will post any additional information that I find.

      Richard J. Pollack

    • #14181
      Neil Goeppinger

      George Washington Coffin made the most ornate bells cast in the U.S., but they didn’t have a very good sound. Some of them had cheribs and putti on them, and others had dancing girls with flowing veils. Later, when Vanduzen married into the family and took over, he changed the shape of the bells and improved the sound. He also dropped the ornate work.

      The foundry started in 1837 and was still using the G. W. Coffin & Co name as late as 1857. It was likely the successor to the Riga furnace in Salisbury, Conn founded by Holley and Coffin in 1810. I think they bought their art work as other bell makers used the same patterns of putti and cheribs. They invented bell limiting springs (the springs inside a swinging bell to keep the clapper from trailing off in sound as the swing of the bell became less and less after the bell ringer quit pulling the rope). They made bells at least up to 4,095 lbs. They made other things also – “Mathematical & Philosophical Instrument Makers”. I have no idea what those would be. It’s fun to guess. — Neil

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