I have a 1857 G H Holbrook bell Cast in East Medway. I would like to know how to clean and restore it without taking away from it’s value. Can this bell be polished without devaluing the bell, Also can someone tell me why the M in Medway and the M in Mass were cast upside down. This bell was made for and belongs to the Rockdale Mills in Northbridge MA.
Regarding the M being upside down. It could have involved beer the night before placing the inscription in the mold, or perhaps the workman who was putting the wax letters in the clay mold had his head upside down looking into the upside down outer mold, and he got mixed up. I have seen other such mix ups with wax inscriptions, especially involving Roman numerals.
Regarding how to clean and restore the bell. To start with, in what condition is the bell surface? If it has a nice brownish patina which cannot be scraped off with your fingernail, I would leave it alone. If it has been exposed to temperature differences and thus has developed a black coating which can be scratched off with your fingernail, or if it is covered with bird manure or paint spatters, that is another matter. I recently wrote a book on large bells which has a chapter on large bell restoration. The chapter is too long to repeat here. If you are interested, it is available on Amazon.
I have a G. W. Holbrook bell with a nice hard brown patina and a wood yoke, and I have chosen to keep it the way it is. It is dated 1837. — Neil Goeppinger