Who Were They?

Lost and forgotten photos from the past

Liberty Bell 3 Liberty Bell 1

Inside the Liberty Bell album, I found the 4×6 page of historical information behind one of the photos. The album must have been made after 1895 as it references that year in the information. Having just visited the Liberty Bell in December 2013, this is particularly intriguing information to me. The park ranger leading our tour of the Pennsylvania State House aka Independence Hall told us the bell cracked on the tolling for George Washington’s birthday, not the death of Chief Justice Marshall as noted above. According to the National Parks Service webpage for the Liberty Bell, the 2000 pound bell had a crack immediately after its casting. The crack was repaired according to techniques at the time, and was even recast in 1753. At a ringing of the bell to celebrate George Washington’s birthday in 1846 the bell cracked irreparably and has not been rung since. A replacement bell was cast and hangs still in the bell tower of Independence Hall. The new bell weighs 13,000 pounds, one thousand for each of the original 13 colonies. Up until the 1980s, visitors could touch the original bell, however that is no longer possible due to the minor vibrations that could further damage the relic. Anecdotes indicate the bell always sounded “off” and didn’t have a very pretty sound to it. The “new” bell continues to ring every day.

In front of this slip of incorrect but well intended information is the photograph above. An unidentified young man, photographed in his late teens or early twenties. The photographer was N. A. Nealey of Linden Street, Exeter, New Hampshire. He was known to be in business in the 1880s and 90s. The sawtooth edges of the card tell us it was made in the 1890s.

5 thoughts on “Liberty Bell 1

  1. IntenseGuy says:

    You were in “my” town … and I didn’t know!! :)

    My family have been bell-founders since the 10th or 11th century. The metal alloy, the proportion of tin and bronze is critical – it determines both the “pitch” and the “strength” of the bell. Too much tin makes a bell brittle – but they ring longer – if I recall correctly (I’ve never cast a bell myself! My grandfather was the last one in my family to do so.)



  2. Ed Donnell says:

    I was wondering what leads you to think this info on the card is incorrect? Just because website info is different? I recommend you check the venerable 1911 or pre 1990s Encyclopedia Britannica or older books , and several ones before taking what any web site declares about a historical subject,. I find as a researcher of the past, that information gets mixed up and info gets left out or incorrect dates put in the further from the event, and the internet often gets incorrect info being cut and pasted to many sites, and the next thing you know (as an example) everyone has December 7th as the day Pearl Baily bombed Japan!


    1. Mrs Marvel says:

      I believe the National Parks Service because they have access to diaries, newspapers, city records and other information that can be cross referenced easily. Just because information was published closer to the moment in time doesn’t make it more correct (the Boston Marathon suspect fiasco is one such example). The website isn’t some guy’s list of Liberty Bell facts. It is a curated site with national historians and researchers providing the content.


      1. Mrs Marvel says:

        The Public Ledger was the Philadelphia daily newspaper from 1836-1942. From their records: 1846 – Under the heading “The Old Independence Bell,” the Public Ledger reported: “This venerable relic of the Revolution rang its last clear note on Monday last [February 23]…and now hangs in the great city steeple irreparably cracked and forever dumb. It had been cracked long before, but was put in order for that day [Washington’s birthday] by having the edges of the fracture filed….It gave out clear notes and loud, and appeared to be in excellent condition until noon when it received a sort of compound fracture in a zigzag direction through one of its sides….”


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