Cape Town, Castle of Good Hope, store room
Bieber, Johann Nikolaus
Format Extent4 colour photographs
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Photographs and information on a bell in a store room of the Castle of Good Hope, Cape Town. In the storage rooms is another historic bell. The bell has been nicely decorated. Three moulding wires in the crown are followed by a decorative band and another moulding wire. Just above the sound bow appears the following text: ME FECIT IOH: NIC: BEIBER IN HAMBURG: ANNO 1781 After another four moulding wires there is again a decorative band. The origin of the bell is remarkable and should be traceable thanks to two seals that appear just above the sound bow. On the front side of the bell we find a seal, probably of the bell founder, but strangely enough with the letters T (or J) and C. One possibility is that a former founder in the family had J and C as first letters of his first names. On the reverse side we discover a seal that links the bell to Batavia. It remains a challenge to learn more about the way this bell ended up in the storage rooms of the Cape Town castle and how it is linked to Batavia. Information collected so far suggest that this bell is one of the two that had hung in the Oranjezicht estate where we have found remains of only one bell-tower. The other bell is in the District-6 Museum in Zonnebloem. The founder of the bell is undoubtedly Johann Nikolaus Bieber, son of Johann Andreas Bieber (1735-1762). Both were bell-founders in Hamburg. The use of Beiber rather than Bieber can be ascribed to a founding (“typing”) error. This reason for the different spelling of his name is affirmed by the Director of the Glockenmuseum in Gesscher. The fact that the bell had a “defect” could be the reason why it was shipped to South Africa, far away from the homeland. Bells from him are rare. Thus far we have found 6 bells in Germany that were made by him and none have this error. An address book of Hamburg from 1794 mentions that BIEBER was living on the Schweinmarkt 2. According to information from Colin Lewis, the bell has been used in the St. Mary Cathedral in Woodstock up to the time when Barwell installed the 8 bells chime in 1902.