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Lot #2195
Nagasaki Cathedral's Surviving Church Bell

Bomb-scarred Angelus church bell recovered from the ruins of a Nagasaki cathedral

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Estimate: $10000+
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Bomb-scarred Angelus church bell recovered from the ruins of a Nagasaki cathedral

Remarkable church bell from the ruins of a church at Nagasaki, Japan, which remarkably survived the atomic bombing of August 9, 1945. The cast bronze bell, marked "Angelus" and "Nagasaki" on one side with Japanese characters on the other, measures 4.5″ tall and 4.5″ across the base. It retains its partial linked hanging chain, and the clapper is present but detached. The bell exhibits several small dark spots, possibly from soot-laden water or heat dire damage from the nearby blast, which was centered approximately 2,000 feet away from the cathedral. It also has traces of metal residue, perhaps from molten material falling upon it after the explosion.

Accompanied by a notarized letter of provenance from Robert D. Stern, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps during World War II. In part: "I was a member of the Second Marine Division Occupational Force that landed in Nagasaki Harbor on September 23, 1945. I was aboard the USS Tyrrell which was an attack cargo ship of the United States Navy. The USS Tyrrell was the first ship from the fleet to dock at Nagasaki Harbor. I was assigned to the Military Police Company for my entire tour of duty…The bell in question was found by me in the ruins of a church. The church was located approximately a half mile northeast of ground zero."

The Catholic church which most closely fits Stern's description was the Urakami Cathedral, located some 500 meters from the detonation of the 'Fat Man' atomic bomb. The cathedral was completely destroyed, along with all worshippers within it. It was rebuilt in 1959, and statues and artifacts damaged in the bombing—including another bronze Angelus bell—are displayed on the grounds today. A wonderful symbol of faith and resilience in the aftermath of devastation.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Military and the Cold War
  • Dates: #684 - Ended May 18, 2023