Lot 232

Previous image preload Next image preload


A chilling and evocative relic from the August 9, 1945 atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, a church bell that remarkably survived the blast which was centered only about 2,600 feet away! The cast bronze bell measures 4 1/2" tall and 4 3/8" wide at its base. It is marked with the deeply indented words: "ANGELUS" and "NAGASAKI on one side, with Japanese characters likewise indented on the reverse. The clapper is present, as is a separated chain which once supported the bell. The bell bears multiple small black spots which cannot be removed, possibly indicative of soot-laden water or fire damage, and also a few traces of raised metal residue that did not originate from the bell, as if some tiny bits of molten metal had fallen upon this object. The bell is accompanied by an original notarized letter of provenance from Robert D. Stern dated May 14, 2001. Stern relates that he served in the Marines during World War II and was a member of the 2nd Marine Division Occupational Force which landed in Nagasaki on Sep. 23, 1945. He mentions that his assignments included security escort for military photographers in restricted areas. He adds: "...The bell in question was found by me in the ruins of a church. The church was located approximately half a mile northeast from ground zero...". Stern then describes the bell's markings. All of Stern's statements bear out, as the first official American presence in Nagasaki was on Sep. 16th when only an advance group of twelve men went ashore, followed by the Marines on Sep. 23rd. The Catholic church which most closely fits Stern's description was the Urakami Cathedral, located about 500 meters from Ground Zero. As the Assumption of Mary was soon approaching, the cathedral was filled with worshippers when the bomb detonated: all were killed and the church was totally destroyed. In 1959 the church was rebuilt and another French Angelus bell that survived the blast remains on display. For those not familiar, the ringing of the Angelus bell is a Christian call to prayer and to spread good will to all mankind. A more chilling yet hopeful reminder of the evil of war would be hard to find...

Accepted Forms of Payment:

Discover, MasterCard, Money Order / Cashiers Check, Paypal, Personal Check, Visa, Wire Transfer


Shipment is sent USPS priority, USPS International Express (for most overseas) or UPS Ground at the auctioneer's option, signature required, unless other arrangements are made. Handling, shipping and insurance charges will be added to the invoice in one entry. Buyers should be aware that large, framed, fragile or odd shaped items can incur substantial shipping and packing charges. NOTE: Large, heavy or bulky items are not shipped by the auctioneer - arrangements for shipping of these items via a third-party shipper may be arrange through the auction house. Please see "Bidding Procedures" for contact information of recommended shippers. Customers who supply their own courier account number will still be charged a handling fee.

January 30, 2013 11:00 AM EST
Stamford, CT, US

Alexander Historical Auctions LLC

You agree to pay a buyer's premium of up to 22.5% and any applicable taxes and shipping.

View full terms and conditions

Bid Increments
From: To: Increments:
$0 $99 $10
$100 $499 $20
$500 $999 $50
$1,000 $1,999 $100
$2,000 $4,999 $250
$5,000 $9,999 $500
$10,000 + $1,000