What Is It? June 2020

   We had several guesses for our June What Is It. Jerry Michals of Aurora and Byron Roderick of Broomfield, Colorado correctly identified the object as a Muffin Bell, so called for two brass dome bells with an interior clapper. Mr. Michals tells us the muffin bell (ca early 1800s) was originally used by volunteer fire companies in the Eastern USA towns to call the volunteers to duty by shaking it back and forth running through the streets to the shed where the hand-operated, hand-pulled, hand-pumper was stored. The bell called them to the fire. The torchboy or firefighter leading the hand-pulled hose reel or hand pumper would ring this bell as he led the way to the fire. These bells usually have an 1850s patent date on the handle.”
   According to Mr. Roderick, “Mid 1800s watchmen walked town streets looking for fires. Rotating the muffin bell summoned volunteer firemen to fight the blaze.” He also suggests going to www.americanbell.org for more information. Collecting fire fighting related objects is a great hobby. One collector says, “The key to successful collecting is in books. They describe the history of fire fighting, help identify antique equipment and provide fascinating information on the way volunteer companies operated in the old days.”    Congratulations to Mr Michals and Mr. Roderick! You have won a year’s subscription to the Mountain States Collector.

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