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When it comes to bells...
You can't always judge from an online photo!

Quality Counts: Our Bells vs. Our Competition

When we ran out of our popular 10-inch diameter polished brass bells earlier this year, we decided to supplement our inventory by purchasing a large number of similar looking bells from another American importer. From the photo, their bell and ours looked similar, and while we wouldn't be making much money selling a competitive product, we thought it was important to offer this bell to our customers. Besides, we wondered how their bell could be cheaper!

Not only was the 'ten-inch bell' considerably lighter and thinner than ours (their bell weighed 7.5 pounds; ours 12 pounds), which resulted in a tinny, high pitched ring, but the clapper itself was attached to the bell by what looked like a strand of coat hanger cast into the inside of the bell! By comparison, we use a heavy brass eye that is securely screwed into the top of the bell.

Our 10-Inch Bell Clapper

We've since purchased other bells online to not only size up competition, but also to see if there are things we can improve upon. When you, the customer, look at two hand bells photographed online, to you they look very similar and the choice often comes down purely to price. Unfortunately, it's what you can't see that is more important.

The next two pictures are examples of actual comparative photos of bell clappers--the part that gives each bell its rich, unique tone. These clappers are from the 10-inch diameter bells mentioned previously and a five-inch hand bell. Our 10-inch bell clapper (seen at top of picture) is not only much larger and heavier, but it's designed to impact lower on the bell, in the widest diameter section where a bell is designed to be struck.

Our 10-Inch Bell Clapper Our 10-Inch Bell Clapper

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The differences on the hand bell clapper designs are even more glaring. Our longer, heavier model (at top of picture) is designed to strike low on the rim of our large five-inch diameter hand bell and is held by a secure brass ring. The competitive clapper (at bottom of picture) is much too small for the bell and hangs from a twisted strand of brass wire, which can kink and break after extended use.

There are cow bells, and then there are Cow Bells!

Cow Bell Comparison


Lately we've had a few groups try to return small, tinny sounding cow bells (like the blue one in the photo) that they bought at other websites, so they could buy our larger, better built, louder models (shown on either side). Unfortunately---unlike us---some websites charge a re-stocking fee! Not only do we not charge a re-stocking fee, but we also offer a full refund (minus shipping) if you're not satisfied with your purchase because we know you will be! And we can even engrave your bell with your team's name, your organization or whatever else you can dream up. We can also engrave logos (with minimum order quantity and set-up charge).

Our cow bells make great fundraisers. Order larger quantities at a discount and sell to your fan club at retail price. Just give us a call at our toll-free number or email us for large quantity discounts.



Learning from past mistakes

7-Inch Bell Mount Comparison


We've manufactured bells for many years overseas in India and know all about cheap (or even unsafe) bells having had the misfortune of getting a container of them at various times. In fact, we've had to sell large quantities of bells as scrap when customers complained of mounts actually breaking. In this picture on the right, compare the mount of our seven-inch polished brass bell (on right) with the mount of one we received a few years ago (on left) after an ill-fated attempt to improve our costs on this best seller.

In the photos we received from the manufacturer, the bell we ordered was the same size as the one we were selling--but a lot cheaper. As the mounting arm is probably the most important (and overlooked) part of the bell, we found our order was good only for the scrap yard.

We've learned from our mistakes and have developed a relationship with a trusted, quality manufacturer who listens to our suggestions for improvements. It's been an expensive lesson, but one that has made us a better company. If you are like most customers, you may only need to purchase one bell in your lifetime, and you want to purchase the best quality bell for the best price. So, keep in mind that all our products can be returned for a refund (minus shipping) if you're not happy with the quality. And we even offer to replace any bell that malfunctions in the first two years you own it.

We think we offer the best combination of price and quality on the Internet. And we appreciate your business very much.

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Our Bell Finishes

We coat most of our brass bells with a clear lacquer finish that makes them more impervious to moisture and acid (like that found on fingers). If not handled often and in a clean/dry environment, the lacquer will hold up for many years. Outdoors, depending on the amount of sun exposure and moisture, the lacquer may need to be replaced eventually.

Lacquered bells should never be polished using brass polishers or any other solvent! Instead we recommend cleaning/dusting occasionally with a damp wet cloth, with any remaining moisture wiped off with a dry cloth. Lacquer can be removed without damaging the brass by using paint remover or lacquer thinner and reapplied if desired (after re-polishing the brass).

We try to offer a lot of photographs of our different bells throughout the website so that you can get an idea of what your bell will look like. Still, different monitors will show coloring differently. But which finish should you choose? Personal preference is the biggest determinant to answer this question, but here are some facts to help you choose if you are on the fence:

Polished Brass is a warm golden color and very shiny. While the polished finish will look good for many years-- -even outside if not exposed to salt water or acid rain---- it is slightly higher maintenance than other finishes. Also it does not show engraving as well, as the color exposed by the engraver is not high contrast.

Antiqued Brass is a darker, warm brown, with more of a matte finish. Made to mimic the look of a patina made darker by age. A classy, vintage finish that also makes engraving show up much better with more contrast.

Distressed Antiqued Brass has similar color to our antiqued finish, as well as a matte instead of gloss patina. It goes a step further towards giving you that old world heirloom look because it includes tiny nicks, pits and brush marks from finishing. Because of the overall dark finish, it’s our second best patina for engraving.

Polished Nickel finish, has a high polished silver color. Our nickel finish bells are solid brass, but contain 20% nickel to produce the silver color throughout (not just on the outside). This makes them slightly more expensive but gives them superior tarnish resistance and makes them even more difficult to crack.

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A Word About Size

We offer a large variety of sizes and try to include size comparison photos wherever we can. Just keep in mind, the number one reason our customers return a bell is because they ordered one that was too big. We have apples, eyeglasses and standard sized doorknobs in many photos to help give you a perspective on size. Please take a moment to look at these so that you get exactly the size bell you are expecting. As always, if you have a question, our experienced customer service department is ready to help at 1-855-245-3650.

Putting Our Bells to the Test

2014 Bell TestWe're putting our bells to the test. In 2008, after years of selling brass bells and getting hundreds of questions about how well our bells stand up outside, we finally got the bright idea to start a visual experiment that would show our customers first hand.

I know what you're thinking, You're in the bell business, and you haven't tested the durability yet?' In our defense, while we love our bells and get the pleasure of ringing and hearing them every day, having a bell on our own deck would kind of remind us of work. So, over the years we've relied on the number of complaints by former customers who were not happy with the way their bells were weathering. And I'm happy to report that to this day, that number is...ZERO!

We know that brass (and its close cousin, bronze) has been used on ship bells and nautical instruments like ships telegraphs and portholes for hundreds of years because it's one of the few metals able to withstand the corrosive nature of the sea. And items made of those metals are among the sturdiest found in archeological digs from much earlier. But we weren't sure how much upkeep would be necessary to keep a polished ship bell looking shiny, or what color an antiqued patina bronze would turn when weathered.

So for many years, we've hung a pair of bells on the owner's porch---one in antiqued brass and one in polished. While the owner thought it would be a good idea to hang out on his porch and watch this experiment every day, his wife (and his wallet) thought differently.

Our Bell Test Results (So Far)

After eight years, our bells are still looking pretty good, with absolutely no maintenance! Here's a photo (on right) taken from out a kitchen window at the test bells, which is how bells are normally viewed. Closeup, the polished brass ball has minor 'spidering' caused by the lacquer finish wearing out (this bell has been exposed to all day sun facing south). We'd probably recommend stripping the lacquer with acetone and re-lacquering if you want it to look 'perfect.' But as you can see from this photo, it still looks great from over a few feet away. The antiqued finish has gotten darker and more 'antique' looking, but it has not turned green, as can happen with copper. Both have only been wiped with a dry paper towel once a year.

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Previous Bell Tests

Antiqued Brass Outdoors 2008-2016

Antiqued Brass Bell Test 2008Antiqued Brass Bell Test 2010Antiqued Brass Bell Test 2016

Polished Brass Outdoors 2008-2016

Polished Brass Bell Test August 2008

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