No. 4 Bell American Casting Company
April 18, 2008 at 6:47 am #10851tcfjrParticipant
I have acquired a bell that has imprinted on the yoke American Casting Company Birmingham Alabama. Also a number 4. I have looked for info regarding this company and haven’t been too sucessful. Any info that you can give would be appreciated.
May 16, 2008 at 8:04 pm #13725AnonymousInactive
Birmingham, Alabama had a dozen or so metal foundries; several still exist today. In 19 years in the bell business, travelling Alabama, Georgia & Tennessee, I have only seen one other bell from American Bell, Birmingham. There is a metal foundry museum in Birmingham operated by several college professors called the Sloss Museum. There is also Valcan museum park on the mountaintop in Birmingham. A statue of Valcan (60′ tall?) was cast & visiors can walk up the stairs inside Valcan, like statue of Liberty. Robinson Iron, Alexander City, Alabama restored Valcan a couple years ago. Please contact Sloss for additional foundry information. The Alabama Historic Preservation Department in Montgomery has been extremely helpful, especially Tom Kaufman, as they have an archive of business contracts.
Most foundries used bell casting as a fill in product to keep the metal flowing during down times. The cast iron bell sizes were standardized by CS Bell Co. #1 being a “Y” bracket mounted 15″ diameter 40 pounds Farm Bell, #2 “Y” bracket 17″ diameter 50 lbs. for farm bell, #3 “Y” bracket 19″ diameter 75 lbs. for farm bell, #3 1/2 (very rare) “Y” bracket 21 ” diameter 100 lbs. for farm bell, #4 “A” stand pair mounted 21″ diamater 100 lbs. designated for school house & factories. Sears Roebuck catalogs printed prior to 1930 are a great reference source, as Sears was the main distributor for CS Bell Co., Farm Bells (14″ to 21″), Factory Bells (21″ to 48″), Church Bells (21″ to 48″), Fire Alarm bells (28″ to 48″), County Courthouse Bells (36″ to 54″).
Last year, Bell’s Novelty Castings, Anniston, Alabama, a remnant of CS Bell Co. closed. They had the original molds from CS Bell Co., Hillsboro, Ohio. He could not compete with the Chinese import, even though the Chinese farm bells were smaller shape, under weight, etc. Buyers just did not understand the complex acoustical nature of cast iron bells … crystaline bells. Since Bell’s Novelty Casting closed, historic foundry farm bells have increased six times in value. A good value in a historic farm bell is around $650. up from $125. a year ago.
This response was originally sent to the ABA’s Internet Coordinator. Responses are opinions of individuals based on their personal research and knowledge.
November 6, 2008 at 5:17 pm #13726
November 10, 2008 at 1:39 pm #13727Carl Scott ZimmermanParticipant
The American Casting Company, Birmingham, Alabama, was in operation in the very early 1900s. (Unfortunately I don’t have details of their history.) Their products, like those of other firms which made cast steel bells, are almost impossible to date accurately because they were mass produced and undated.
While many such firms followed the example of C.S.Bell Co. for size numbering (as John Eachus reported via admin), not all did. So the correspondence of size numbers between different firms is not exact. However, it would be correct to say that a #1 bell was the smallest size which its maker produced, whatever that size happens to be. Also, bells numbered this way were almost always provided with a post-top mounting bracket. (The exception is C.S.Bell #4, which could be purchased either with a postmount or with side frames.) Larger bells, from all makers, were sized in even numbers which were an approximation to the mouth diameter in inches.
May 16, 2009 at 6:01 pm #13728AnonymousInactive
The following is a “lost” reply that Neil sent to me a very long time ago. He sent it directly to TCF but I thought others would be interested in his response, too. Mea culpa!
I don’t have a great deal of information on the American Casting Company of Birmingham, Alabama, but I’ll give you what I know. I know that they were in business from 1904 through 1910. They may well have been in business before or after those years, but those are the years for which I have verification. In 1904 the firm was owned by Daniel B. and Harry V. Dimick, George H. Harris and Julian E. Dow.
In 1910 F. T. Dow was president & general manager and J. E. Dow was secretary and treasurer.
My sources of information are research papers of Lois Springer, author of That Vanishing Sound and The Collectors Book of
Bells, Birmingham Public Library, R. L. Polk Directory of 1910, and the Birmingham City Directory of 1904.
You said your bell reads “number 4″ from which I assume it is a cast iron or cast steel dinner bell (18″ diameter or smaller). For most iron and steel bell foundries, their number 1 through 4 bells were dinner bells. For some firms, the number 1 bell was the smallest and number 4 the largest, but some firms reversed the sizes with number 4 being the smallest. In most cases, 12″ diameter was the smallest dinner bell, and 18″ was the largest. At 20” the bells became school bells and were mounted differently. In some catalogues, the firms referred to these as farm bells instead of dinner bells, but the mountings and bells were the same. — Neil
April 26, 2010 at 4:08 pm #13729metalsmithParticipant
My Great-Grandfather Dan B. Dimick II was a partner in American Casting Company and I have some information that may be of some help to you. I will have to dig it out. Do you have any photos of the bell? I’d love to see it. We have no surviving pieces from that company although we have several from the company my Grandfather, Dan B. Dimick III owned, which was Dimick Casting Company.
May 7, 2010 at 6:48 pm #13730p.gillMember
I have just put up an American Casting #3 bell. If you would like a picture I happy to send. I was told it was used at a small
town school in Georgia my father attended in the 1930’s.
May 7, 2010 at 8:52 pm #13731AnonymousInactive
Welcome to the “Bell Talk” Forum, p.gill!
When you say you have “put up” an American Casting Co. #3 bell, what does that mean? You have put it up for sale? If so, please read the Rules for Sellers at viewtopic.php?f=3&t=13.
September 11, 2010 at 6:23 pm #13732p.gillMember
“put up”….Georgia term for installed….in my back yard and not for sale.
June 19, 2011 at 4:50 pm #13733oldschoolMember
I have just found a bell by this manufacture in Dickson, Tennessee.
It is a #2 and measures 16″ Dia.( http://i1195.photobucket.com/albums/aa386/oldschool1478/IMG_1098.jpg )
After several hours searching, I found this post to be the ONLY reference on the web!
Can I assume this is a very rare bell?
January 7, 2012 at 4:00 pm #13734qbdParticipant
Received my Grandma’s American Casting Co Birmingham,AL #2 Farm bell.. It’s in pretty good shape but missing the crank. Will the cranks on that prindle site fit this bell? Or should I try to find an original if possible?
January 7, 2012 at 6:43 pm #13735Carolyn WhitlockParticipant
I would suggest that you ask this question of Sandra Wilson at Prindle Station. She and her husband are members of the American Bell Association and are very nice people to work with. In the meantime, there may be someone out there who can offer an opinion to you.
August 15, 2020 at 12:34 pm #29998nightflier51Participant
I have a no 2 American casting Co bell way up in the garret of my 2 story farm house. The rope comes down through 2nd floor down into first floor kitchen. It is a cat bell to call all my cats in. No matter where they are withing a half a mile they will come running bac here to eat. I trained them that way and it surely works.
September 2, 2020 at 1:16 pm #30005nightflier51Participant
In my experience of farm bells,the American casting co bells looked and sounded like the CS bells. Theno 2 I have sounds the same as a no 2 CS bell
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