by Helena Taylor
- People who play handbells are known as ‘Ringers’. Not ding-a-lings. The joke wasn’t funny the first time, and it still not funny years… (decades) later.
- PT Barnum (Yes, ‘A handbell ringer is born every minute’ PT Barnum) is credited for bringing the English handbell to the USA in the 1840s.
- There is a difference between English handbells and American handbells. In the United Kingdom, English handbells have leather clapper heads and handles, while American handbells use plastic and rubber clappers and handles. However, in the USA, they’re all known as English handbells even though they’re produced in Pennsylvania. (There’s also a big competition between the two main American manufacturers of English handbells. Take it from me, never try to mix the two brands in the same ensemble. Ringers will notice and you will be called a ding-a-ling.)
- English handbells are chromatically tuned brass bells, traditionally held by leather handles.