I am a nautical archaeologist at Texas A&M University working on remains of the USS Shark, a schooner built in 1821 and wrecked in the mouth of the Columbia River in 1846. In the 1940’s, someone found this bell stuck in the sand in the general area of the shipwreck (but there are hundreds of historic wrecks in that area) and it became known as the Shark Bell. I am hoping to conserve the bell, which may bring out a maker’s mark or stamp, but when I looked at it back in June, I saw nothing of the sort. Were there certain bell manufacturers contracted with the U.S. Navy from 1821 to 1846? Anyways, in keeping with the protocol, here is the information:
• Height of the bell: 14″ tall.
• Diameter of the bottom of the skirt: 13″ diameter.
• Writing or engraving on the bell: a faded design near the top (see photos) but as far as I could tell, no writing.
• Material from which the bell was made: bronze with an iron clapper.
• History about the bell that you may have: stated above.
• Photo of the outside of the bell
• Photo of the inside of the bell
The original USS Shark was constructed at the Washington Naval Shipyard and would have had the bell cast on site or by McShane in Baltimore. The design of the bell and the crown are not typical of Naval castings or McShane castings. It is more consistent with an English style and is probably not from the USS Shark. If there was a British or Canadian sinking in the area, the bell is most likely from another wreck than the USS Shark.
Harry Long, MD