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Handbell Foundries

To date, we know four foundries producing handbell: Schulmerich and Malmark are both located in Pennsylvania, USA; John Taylor Bellfounders and the Whitechapel Bell Foundry are located in the United Kingdom. All four have interesting Web pages, full of information, pictures, and technical recommendations. Texts and pictures that follow are taken from these foundries web sites.

Schulmerich
Since 1935, Schulmerich has set world standards for excellence in electronic bell instruments and cast bell carillons. Schulmerich is the oldest existing manufacturer of English handbells in North America. As innovators, they developed the world's first electronic carillon. As craftsmen, they practice skills as old as mankind and as new as tomorrow - putting something of themselves into every instrument they create. In 1991 they were the first to introduce an all digital electronic carillon with no moving parts; which was followed in 1996/1997 with the introduction of the True Cast sound electronic carillon; and in 1998 they introduced the MelodyChime Instruments.

Malmark
Since its beginning, Malmark has earned a reputation as the world's leading manufacturer of handbells and accessories. Its rich history is built on a commitment to handbell music and the people who practice this time-honored art. Its craftspeople are committed to manufacturing the highest-quality products that are designed and created in adherence to standards that could only have been developed by true devotees and innovators in handbell ringing. Malmark was founded with the stated intention of producing handbells better than anyone else in the field. Their success in achieving product superiority is illustrated by the fact they are the fastest growing handbell maker in the world. Their customers have the assurance they are buying handbells that have won the acclaim of leading directors, choirs, and audiences around the globe.

John Taylor Bellfounders
John Taylor Bellfounders continues a line of bellfounding which has been unbroken since the middle of the 14th Century, when Johannes de Stafford was active only 10 miles from the site of the present foundry. In 1839 the business settled in Loughborough and is now proud to operate the largest bellfoundry in the world. The largest bell in Britain, Great Paul, the massive Bourdon bell at St Paul's Cathedral in London, was cast in Loughborough in 1881, weight 17,002 kgs, 37,483 pounds. Centuries of experience, together with up to the minute advances in technology, has put Taylors at the forefront in the design and manufacture of bells, their fittings and frameworks for all methods of sounding bells. Handbell work is undertaken in the best traditions of former craftsmen and the present staff have a wide range of experience in all aspects of handbell production. The insights of modern technology are used where applicable.

Whitechapel Bell Foundry
An entry in the Guinness Book of Records lists the Whitechapel Bell Foundry as Britain's oldest manufacturing company, having been established in 1570 (during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I) and being in continuous business since that date. In 1970, therefore, the Foundry celebrated its quatercentenary. It had for some time been thought that the company may in fact have a longer history. Whitechapel's famous bells include the original Liberty Bell (1752), the Great Bell of Montreal and, probably best known of all, Big Ben at the Palace of Westminster. Whitechapel have been acknowledged leaders in the production of musical handbells. Handbell ringing began in England about three hundred years ago. Even in those days, the best bells were made at the sign of the three bells in Whitechapel. Indeed, it can be said that the whole art of handbell ringing - making molten metal into liquid sound - was built on Whitechapel handbells.

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