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      R.A.F. Benevolent Fund “Victory” Bell

      by Alan Burgdorf, Ed Hendzlik, and Rob Roy
      with special thanks to Steve Kapp, Marie Varian, Kathleen Collins, Jane Boldenow, Elaine Brophy, and Rob S.

      (Republished with permission from The Bell Tower—March-April 2011)

      This website version will be updated from time to time if new information is received.
      Addendum 1 (10 April 2011) below:
      Addendum 2 (10 April 2011) below:

      If a reader has additional information, please contact:

      Addendum 1 (10 April 2011)
      Rob and Sally Roy have sent copies of a 1960s magazine ad asking for contributions to the RAFBF.

      A Victory (RAF Benevolent Fund) bell with unusual handle was sold recently on eBay. The buyer, Rob S. from San Diego, searched the Internet, found the ABA website posting, obtained my (Alan) name and e-mail address, and wrote asking for additional information. I told him what I knew, requested that he send photos upon receipt of the bell, and he has done so. That bell has what will be called a Mushroom handle in the discussion below. I have been in contact with Rob Roy and Ed Hendzlik, and we have pooled our information.

      (Note: Mushroom, Spade, and Cameo are Ed’s terms and we have adopted those for this article. Dome and Flat are my terms. Others may call them something else.)

      TYPES OF HANDLES—There are three known types.

      The V handle (below left) (dot-dot-dot-dash on each side) was designed by Conrad Parlanti but was never put into widespread production due to anticipated high manufacturing costs. One was sold on eBay several years ago, but it is not known whether this was a prototype or an actual limited production version. There is one pictured on the RAF Benevolent Fund website. It seems to have a rounded edge and flat top, but dimensions are not specified. Note that the picture appears small because the original photo was very low resolution. The actual bell is probably the same size as the standard bell on the far right.

      Marie has a small and slightly different V handle bell (below right), also with a rounded edge and flat top, that appears to have been polished to smooth out the pitted surface of the aluminum, diameter of 2 3/4”, height of 3 7/8”, bell (base) height of 2 1/8”, handle height of 1 3/4”, top width across the V of 2 1/4″, no maker’s marks. The shape of the bell (base) appears to be slightly different than the one discussed above. The most unusual feature will be discussed below.

      Addendum 2 (10 April 2011)
      Another Victory bell has surfaced, this time from Australia. It is of the original design of Conrad Parlanti, with the dot-dot-dot-dash V handle. It has a rounded top and a crisp edge transition from the side to top, unlike those of Marie and the one pictured on the RAFBF website which have the rounded edge and flat top. The inscriptions on the base follow one of the standard patterns. It does not have manufacturer’s markings. This one is much larger than normal, with a bell diameter of 5 3/4″, bell height of 4″, and overall height of 7 3/4″. The assembly parts are like those found on many other Victory bells.

      The Mushroom handle (below) is the unusual version purchased by Rob S. Ed has one currently, and Rob (assume Roy unless otherwise specified) had one in the past. This type has four sets of dot-dot-dot-dash (Morse code for the letter V) around the perimeter of the top of the handle, and centered on a raised “V.” Standard measurements are handle height 1 3/4”, flaring from 1/2” to 1 1/8.”

      The Spade handle is the most common. This type has a large “V” protruding from the flattened part of the spade. Standard measurements are handle height 2 3/4”, flaring from 1/2” round to a width of 1 3/8”, and depth of 3/4”. Those on the Flat base, defined below, may be slightly smaller. Dimensions of both handle and base could be +/- 1/8” for any measurement.

      TYPES OF BELLS (Base Only)—There are two known types (and one variant).

      The Dome type (above left) has a crisp edge and a rounded top. Standard measurements are bell diameter 4 1/2”, bell height 3 1/4”. The Mushroom handle bells have this Dome top.

      The Flat type (above right) has a rounded edge and a flat top. Standard measurements are bell diameter 4 1/2″, bell height 3”. Notice that the “V” on the spade of this particular Flat bell is shorter and begins a little higher up than the one on the Dome bell. The Flat type in the picture is otherwise representative, but it has been heavily polished to remove the pitted appearance of the aluminum.

      There is one interesting variant that Ed calls a Cameo bell (below left). All the bells have the raised portraits of Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin. Normally they protrude from the surface of the bell, but in the Cameo version they are raised from within an oval recess. Maarten-Netherlands has such a bell, on a Flat base, and they seem to be a rare variety. It is not known if any Dome bells are of the Cameo type.

      A survey of Victory bells sold recently on UK eBay showed five of the Dome type and three of the Flat type, all with Spade handle, and none in Cameo style. It is not known how representative a sample this might be in general.


      There were several, but the only one known for certain is the Bucks Diecasting Co., Ltd. of Burnham, and they marked the interior of the bells that they produced (below left). The Mushroom handle and the Dome bells shown above were each made by Bucks, as was the Mushroom bell now owned by Ed and one previously owned by Rob.

      INSCRIPTIONS ON BASE Compare the inscriptions on the standard Dome and Flat bases above,
      and recall that the Dome base was made by Bucks Diecasting.

      Bucks Diecasting segment inscriptions read:
      StalinDESTROYED OVER BRITAIN 1939-1945
      Churchill—R.A.F. BENEVOLENT FUND

      Many other manufacturers seem to use segment inscriptions that read:
      Churchill—1939-1945 R.A.F. BENEVOLENT FUND

      Kathleen has a Spade handle-Dome, no maker’s marks, no periods in “RAF”, with segment inscriptions that read:
      Stalin—SHOT DOWN OVER BRITAIN 1939-1945

      Elaine has a Spade handle-Flat, no maker’s marks, no space after “Britain”, with segment inscriptions that read:
      Stalin—SHOT DOWN OVER BRITAIN1939-1940
      Churchill—R.A.F. BENEVOLENT FUND

      Marie has a Spade handle-Dome, no maker’s marks, no periods in “RAF”, with segment inscriptions that read:
      Roosevelt—SHOT DOWN OVER BRITAIN 1939-1945

      Marie’s V handle-Flat, no maker’s marks, does have the three portraits, but the segment inscriptions are repeating dot-dot-dot-dash groups 1/4” above the bottom of the bell:
      Stalin —dot-dot-dot-dash
      Roosevelt — dot-dot-dot-dash
      Churchill — dot-dot-dot-dash

      There is a Flat type with Spade handle with No inscription on the base (above right). Jane also has one with No inscription on the base, but it is a Dome type, no makers marks.

      It has been reported that some may have one section with “R.A.F. BENEVOLENT FUND” as the only text around the base. We do not have a picture of this type.

      It has also been reported that some bases may read “1939/1945.” Neither Ed, Rob, nor I have seen one of these in a standard variety.

      So, with all the known parts surveyed, how many assembled variations of the Victory bell exist?
      Of those reported, I can count:
      three if you lump the V handle and Spade handle varieties together,
      four if you break out the Cameo,
      seven if you consider all reported varieties (but ignore inscriptions),
      even more if you include some/all of the various inscriptions.

      V handle – Flat
      V handle – Flat – (dot-dot-dot-dash)

      Mushroom handle – Dome – Bucks

      Spade handle – Dome – Bucks
      Spade handle – Dome
      Spade handle – Flat
      Spade handle – Flat – Cameo

      Stop the Presses! – Good News/Bad News

      Bad News—We are about to complicate your understanding of Victory bells.

      Good News—We are about to reveal two new types—one previously unreported and one previously underreported, and neither with previously published photographs.

      Unreported Variety—This bell (below left) was recently purchased by Steve. It appears to be the Flat type with a diameter of 4 1/2” and a height of 3”. It has a Spade lozenge at the top of the handle. It does not have manufacturer markings. So far, so good—but, instead of 2 3/4”, the handle is 7 1/2” high with a bulbous base.

      The segment inscriptions read:
      Stalin—DESTROYED OVER BRITAIN 1939-1943

      That’s right, four differences: IN, LUFTWAFFE PLANES, 1943, no periods in “RAF,” plus the lettering is incised, not raised.

      Underreported Variety: This bell was previously owned by Rob. It may have been described verbally or in print, but the people who did learn of it may not have fully grasped what Rob was saying. A photograph was never published. The one below has a picture taken by Rob and his description of the bell.

      Items to Note:
      1) The Spade handle has a repeating series of dot-dot-dot-dash patterns around the perimeter of the Spade (actually one extra dash).
      2) The shape of the bell base resembles a flower pot, which has not been used on any of the previously reported varieties.
      3) The portraits appear smaller and are located higher on the bell than the other varieties.
      4) The inscription reads 1939/45.
      5) The diameter of the base is 3.75”, height of the base is 4.4”, height of the handle is 2.7”, total height is 7.1” (18.1 cm, not 16.1 cm as shown on the card) and width of the Spade, including the raised dot-dot-dot-dash patterns is 1.6”.

      The segment inscriptions read:
      ??????—1939/45 R.A.F. BENEVOLENT FUND

      Are there more varieties out there? Who knows? If you do know of any, and can supply actual pictures and measurements (not hearsay info), please inform us.

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