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Friday, August 18, 2006

It Didn't Have the Ring of Truth

Edward McNair inherited a signet ring with a family legend attached. He recently placed the ring on eBay with a "buy it now" price of $75,000, mostly because of the tale he'd heard as a boy.

Andrew McNair was the official ringer of the Liberty Bell. He got hold of a piece of metal that broke off the inside seam of the bell, where the two halves of the mold it was cast from came together.

In the early 1800s, the metal was taken to a jeweler who cast two signet rings. One he kept for himself, as payment for his services. The other remains in the McNair family today.
Nice story, but the Liberty Bell's chief caretaker, Robert Giannini, says it can't be true: the bell was cast as a single piece, and never had an inside seam. On the bright side, he says rings were made from metal removed during an 1846 repair of the bell, and Edward McNair might have inherited one of those. Back in the '70s, Giannini was offered one for $50.
McNair took the experts' opinions of his family heirloom with good old American stoicism.

"I firmly believe that as a story goes along, it gets added to," he says.

"But the bottom line is, Andrew McNair was one of our ancestors and the signet ring is from a piece of the Liberty Bell - even if the story was added to or taken away from over the years." [Link]

Ruth

This doesn't have the ring of truth because Mr. McNair bought the ring from me. It came down in my family from a distant uncle who was a guard at the Liberty Bell. People used to try to chip off chunks of metal from underneath the Bell. As he chased someone away, they dropped a piece of metal. My relative took it to a Phila. jeweler who made 2 rings.
I put my ring on eBay in 2005. Mr. McNair contacted me after the auction and asked if he could trade for the ring. He had a beautiful emerald necklace that he sent me so that I could have it appraised before I agreed. When I did, I sent him the ring and all the paperwork that was from my family.
He told me that he wanted to keep it in the family because of his family's link to the Bell.
So, the ring is authentic, but Mr McNair's story is false.
Just thought you'd like to hear 'the rest of the story'. - Ruth Stoddard - Longview, TX

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