Archiver > WILBANKS > 1998-12 > 0913782629

From: Gary Wilbanks <>
Subject: [WILBANKS-L] John Wilbank & The Liberty Bell
Date: Tue, 15 Dec 1998 23:30:29 -0500

This was printed in newspapers all across the country back on October 31,
1982 in the Sunday paper supplement called Parade.

Gary Wilbanks


For Sale: The Liberty Bell

The Liberty Bell was once bartered as scrap metal. Its value was appraised
at $400. The famous bell, which rang in the first public reading of the
Declaration of Independence, was installed at the Pennsylavania State House
in Philadelphia in 1753. It was stowed away for safekeeping during the
Revolutionary War but later resumed its sonorous career, announcing state
meetings and summoning local congregations. The bell and the State House
fell into disuse around 1800, after the U.S. Congress had moved to
Washington, D.C., and the Pennsylvania Legislature had moved to Lancaster.

In 1824, the State House, now known as Independance Hall, was spruced up
for the visit of Lafayette, the French general who had aided the Colonies
against the British. The Philadelphia city fathers decided to complete the
refurbishing of the building in 1828. They contracted John WILBANK, a
bellmaker from Germantown, PA., to cast a replacement for the Liberty Bell.
He agreed to knock $400 off his bill in exchange for the 2000-pound relic.
When WILBANK went to collect it, however, he decided it wasn't worth the
trouble. "Drayage costs more than the bell's worth," he reportedly said.
The city sued WILBANK for removal of the bell but backed off when he agreed
to donate it to the city as a gift.

WILBANK no doubt was happy to be relieved of the burden, unaware that he
had just bartered away what would become the most venerated symbol of
American Independence.

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