Welcome to the ABA! Bell Talk Forums Large Bells NAMED USN WWI SUBMARINE BELL QUESTION

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    • #25830
      wagriff
      Participant

      I have an unusual item to ask about. I have a USN named ships bronze bell from WWI and it is currently in awfully dirty condition and is presently covered in a drab silver paint-which may or may not be original. It weighs approximately 50-60 pounds and approximately 14 inches wide at the base by perhaps 15 inches high. I would very much like to have it stripped down and polished bright and sealed for out doors(sheltered) display.

    • #25831
      wagriff
      Participant

      My question is, Were these bells painted silver, and if they were(or not) would it damage the collectability and value if I stripped it down and polished and sealed it?

      • This reply was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by wagriff.
    • #25833
      wagriff
      Participant

      Hopefully, the photos will load. The Submarine was one of the “PigBoats”. the R-10 and was decommissioned and scrapped in Philadelphia in 1946. It was the 1st US submarine to have torpedo tubes.

      • This reply was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by wagriff.
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    • #26529
      Lauraj
      Participant

      I have some knowledge of ship bells but confess this is the 1st sub bell I’ve seen.
      I have a WWII U.S.N. Bell a bit smaller and made of iron. The iron was used to conserve brass for bullets etc. other era Navy bells marked U.S.N were brass/bronze.
      I would never refinish a historic piece such as yours. It would take away any value. If you wish to verify it is made of brass or bronze then apply a magnet to it. If the magnet sticks, it is most likely cast iron. If it does not stick it is definitely brass or bronze.
      Hope this helps!

    • #26533
      wagriff
      Participant

      Actually, it is rarer than even what I figured. I have found out that it is made of Copper! When I first verified this, I could not believe that a bell from a sea going warship could be made of Copper,but digging into it more, I found out that there were, indeed, a handful of copper made bells in the earlier days. How they could do this is this-they only mounted the bells on the subs when they were in Port. When leaving dock, the bells were taken down and stored. This may likely be the reason for the silver paint. I have decided to have it totally and professionally restored and returned to it’s original state of usage-to make it back to how it originally looked when hung on the R-10.

    • #26603
      nightflier51
      Participant

      I have never heard of a pure copper bell. Copper is soft by nature and would have less sustain in the ring. Sometimes bronze has a coppery look to it when shined.

    • #26604
      wagriff
      Participant

      I’ve been in touch about it with Jim McCurdy who is one of the largest handlers in the country of US Naval bells at TSIB -he is the one that told me that he had heard of such copper bells, but had never handled one himself. I admit, that I was, frankly, incredulous of it myself, but it is what it is, I guess. If these bells were only hung when in port and stowed when underway at sea, there would be no reason not. It’s an interesting piece, in any case.

    • #27156
      wagriff
      Participant

      I thought quite alot about this USN warship bell and finally came to the conclusion that in it’s deplorable state it was basically worth little to anyone and so I sent it out to a Wyoming Bronze Restoration Foundry and had them go over it from end to end and restore it to it’s original state once again. They are museum and statuary specialists in Bronze and do superb work for countless clients and organizations around the country. It was quite costly to do so, but I felt that it deserved to be restored to it’s top condition again. Yes, the clapper is likely not the way the first one looked like, but this is a nice solid bronze piece and fit perfectly so I decided that it was alright for now. If I should ever come across a supposed original clapper, I can always swap it out simple enough, in any case.

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    • #27157
      DavidE
      Keymaster

      That’s a really impressive result.
      And a good story that tempted me to look at her history, Wikepedia seems to have every piece of knowledge 🙂
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_R-10_(SS-87)

      May I suggest that this story would make a good article for our ABA magazine “The Bell Tower” ??

      Thanks
      David

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