Looking for Gong & Asian Bell Collectors
June 15, 2010 at 3:46 am #11470AnonymousInactive
Ron in Texas asks:
Is their an association or group that deals specifically with gong type bells? I have a couple external clapper type bells but I can not find any information on manufacturers or types etc. Enclosed is a picture of that gong. I would be interested if can refer me to a source for more information on this type of bell. Ron
If you would like to let Ron know of your common interest, please post a response.
This inquiry was originally sent to the ABA’s Internet Coordinator. Responses are opinions of individuals based on their personal research and knowledge.
June 16, 2010 at 9:37 pm #15843GarryParticipant
I do have a bit of an interest in these types of bells. Often called “fight bells” as well. They basically are a class of bells with a spring loaded trigger – you pull the rope or chain back against the spring cocking the hammer until it trips. I have seen them in different sizes and metals but I find they basically fall into two main classes; 1) those which have an INTERNAL clapper and 2) those with an EXTERNAL clapper as you show. There is a third class where you hold the bell on a center mounted dowel or it is attached to a wall, and strike it with a mallet – but I prefer the mechanical ones myself and don’t really mentally place them with these.
Typically you see them in boxing movies of course. From my research they have also been used in noisy shop floors to mark shift changes etc., as door bells in an industrial setting, and smaller versions have been used on trolley cars to alert the driver -( although those usually have a different shape holder).
I only have a couple of these, but my favorite one is similar to yours, but painted iron not brass and with an internal clapper. It still has it’s pull chain with a metal fob on the end that says “pull”. You will find it shown in an earlier posting of mine on this site. It’s not particularly special but I like it as it’s the first bell I found that I was able to recognize all the parts for it. It had been separated in 3 separate pieces and was dispersed throughout a large rummage/yard sale as the people didn’t know what the parts were. I found each of the parts in these different areas, purchased them separately for a fraction of their value, and re-assemble it. It is now an outside call bell for the house!
Hope that helps!
June 17, 2010 at 1:30 am #15842hjlong3Participant
Ron’s gong looks like one that was made by Bevin Brothers in the 1960s. Originally, they were made by Gong Bell Co of East Hampton, CT in the 1800s. This company was acquired by NN Hill and subsequently Bevin. They made bronze gongs and steel gongs with the spring loaded clapper. There were other companies that made gongs as well, but the picture is consistent with a Bevin gong.
Harry Long, MD
June 17, 2010 at 3:54 pm #15844sbronMember
Thanks for all the input. The bell pictured is supposed to be from an old fire station in New Gretta, NJ. It appears to be old and certainly is well worn. The two brass springs that attach to the two sections of the trigger mechanism have worn their respective holes almost through the casting edge. One was so close that I brazed the hole and re-drilled it. I expect that this is consistent with how it would likely have been used in a fire house where, I am guessing, that the cord would have been repeatedly pulled to sound an alert. But how many pulls would it take to wear through 3/16″ of brass from brass on brass contact? The back casting which is a fairly rough iron casting had a small weld repair and I found two more minor cracks which I repaired. The wood hammer that was in it was rosewood and was a poorly done replacement and was split and fit poorly and was held in the mount with a wood screw. The one currently mounted is also rosewood and is a very tight press fit in the mount. This bell is 14 inches in diameter and has a long persistent mellow tone. I have a smaller very similar bell that has a nicer mechanism and that has the makers name on it: James Morrison, Toronto. This company is quite well known for its steam whistles but this is the only bell I have ever seen attributed to them and I have sections of some of their old steam whistle catalogs which do not show any bells. The most interesting one of this type of bell I have ever seen was in a collection of an old friend who passed away some years ago. It was similar in size to this bell, about 14″, but when the cord was pulled it rang twice in succession. I don’t recall if the hammer was internal or external but I sure wish I could see how that mechanism worked. I may get the chance to try to track it down this fall when I expect to visit the area where he lived.
Thanks again for the input. Additionally I know that this type of bell was sometimes used in ship engine rooms and I saw one cast steel version that came from a railroad switch yard engine. I would love to see a picture of an internal type mechanism.
Thanks again, Ron
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