Pennsylvania is well known as the home of the Liberty Bell. But it’s also the home of the company behind the AutoZone Liberty Bowl Trophy. Headquartered in Sellersville, PA., Schulmerich Bells is the world’s leading manufacturer of handbells, cast bells and electronic bell instruments. Ties to the Liberty Bell are strong—not only because of the company’s product line, but because of its location along the Liberty Trail, the site of a dramatic chapter in Liberty Bell history.
Just months after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, with British occupation of Philadelphia imminent, the Bell was taken down and moved under cover of night along the Liberty Trail from Philadelphia to Bethlehem—traveling past the site where Schulmerich Bells is now located. The wagon transporting the 2,000-pound bell broke down in Bethlehem, and, for a moment, the mission was in doubt. Soon, however, a second wagon arrived to take the Bell to nearby Allentown, where it was hidden beneath the floor of the Zion Reformed Congregation Church. The Bell remained there until the British evacuated Philadelphia a year later.
The AutoZone Liberty Bowl Trophy produced by Schulmerich is an authentic, one-quarter-sized replica of the bell that rang in Independence Hall to announce the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It has the same nicked edges, foundry marks, misspelled inscription and even the famous crack—all crafted to maintain the integrity of the Bell in every detail. Cast in traditional black bronze, the bell measures 12 inches in diameter and 11-1/2 inches high with crown. It is bolted to a handmade wooden yoke and swings on legs cast with the filigree design that appears on the original mounting.
Schulmerich’s involvement in cast bells is by no means limited to the replica produced for the AutoZone Liberty Bowl Trophy. Since its founding in 1935, the company has installed thousands of cast bell instruments ranging in size from single bells to huge 61-bell carillons. Today, the majestic sound of Schulmerich cast bell music can be heard from churches, universities, memorial parks, commercial buildings and public places around the world.
Throughout the years, Schulmerich has gained a reputation not only for outstanding craftsmanship and quality but for product innovation. The company’s history is marked by a number of firsts. The company’s founder, George Schulmerich, was the first to conceive of electronically amplifying bells and worked to develop the first "electro-mechanical" carillon. Today, the company’s line of state-of-the-art electronic carillons offers digital sound with no moving parts to break or wear out.
Schulmerich was also the first American producer of handbells, producing its first 25-note prototype handbell sets in 1962. The company currently offers sets as small as 8 bells and as large as 73, along with a broad range of handbell accessories. Each Schulmerich handbell comes with a lifetime guarantee that covers the entire bell—from the tuned bell casting and the clapper assembly to the handle. No wonder that Schulmerich handbells are rung by more choirs, churches, schools and other institutions than any other.
All Schulmerich bell instruments combine old-world craftsmanship along with the latest technological innovations—including computer-aided design and high-tech manufacturing and quality control techniques. A leading innovator in bell instrument technology, the company has been awarded 32 U.S. patents on various bell products.
Schulmerich’s latest innovation is the new True Cast carillon, designed to digitally produce sound uncannily like that of huge bronze instruments costing tens of thousands of dollars more.
True Cast carillons use CD-quality sampled sounds and one of the world’s most advanced Digital Signal Processors to re-create the sound of cast bells. Sound samples are stored in eight megabytes of RAM and processed to create bell music with realistic tonal complexity, sounding as many as 24 notes at once. True Cast instruments have no moving parts to break or wear out—no cassettes, no floppy disks, no rolls, no CDs, no hard disk and no fans.
Every True Cast instrument uses Schulmerich’s Auto-Belle patented sequencing system for playing and programming the world’s largest library of carillon music. The Sequencer provides complete control over 125 possible program settings each day, via a simple touch-pad that prompts the user every step of the way.
A bell can be more than a musical instrument, more than a means of communication, more than a sound that calls us to worship. A bell can be a symbol, a bell can be a special spiritual sound, a bell can be magic. The AutoZone Liberty Bell has that symbolic, spiritual magic.
It has been a long journey from that dark night along the Liberty Trail in 1777, and Schulmerich is proud to be associated with the 2015 AutoZone Liberty Bowl.