Bevin Bells

East Hampton (them Chatham), Connecticut has long been known as Belltown. Beginning in the 19th century, many bell manufacturers set up shop there. All but one of those factories, Bevin Brothers Manufacturing Co., has shut down. Bevin, the only American company still producing only bells,  has been making the news recently. Last year there was an article in The Hartford Courant* and last week a story aired on NPR.

Today, while gathering manuscripts to catalog, I found a patent issued to Isaac A. Bevin for an improved gong bell.

Patent for improved gong bell, 1866 October 9, Ms 73508. Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford, CT

A great find during this holiday season, as Bevin makes all the bells for the Salvation Army. Clicking on the image will enlarge it, though it may still be difficult to read. All are welcome to view it in person. Come visit and research!

*My apologies if you have difficulty accessing the Courant article. You may have to log in to iConn with a Connecticut library card number in order to view it.

Bells in East Hampton.

As part of our NHPRC-funded cataloging project, archivists are looking through collections that have never been cataloged and adding records for our online catalog.  One recently cataloged collection is N.N. Hill Brass Co. Records, 1893-1917, Ms 100549.  The collection consists of cash books, sales records, labor accounts, ledgers, invoice books, factory order slips, factory inventories, credit reports on other companies, and correspondence of this East Hampton, Connecticut, bell manufacturer.  Sales included gongs, rattles, scales, chimes, and tea, call and door bells, among other products.  Their customers were located throughout the east.

Unusual items of interest in this collection are:

correspondence with A. Mugford, a Hartford engraver, concerning the printing of a catalog for N.N. Hill, 1902-1906.

correspondence with Muller, Maclean & Co., New York City merchants, who in 1906 were trying to make a contact to sell bells overseas.

and a long correspondence, 1902-1912, with the Wm. L. Gilbert Clock Co. of Winsted, Connecticut, which included orders, requests for delivery, and complaints about the quality of products.  The letterhead for Gilbert Clock illustrates the factory building.

Found with these materials are two ledgers, numbered 7 and 8, with entries for customers, most from East Hampton, Connecticut, for such items as cheese, overalls, bacon, oil, beef, oats, and “merchandise”, 1896-1908.  These may be the records of the company store, or of an independent merchant in town; unfortunately, there is no identification.

East Hampton was the “bell capitol” of Connecticut, so having this collection finally see the light of day is significant from both a local history and a manufacturing history point of view.