You Can Ring My Bell

BING, BONG. I say “Bing, Bong” because we have a rather nice doorbell that doesn’t just go, “Bing,” or “Brrrrrrriiiinnnngggg …” as doorbells seem to do these days; and neither does it go, “Bong” like a Westminster chime might do. No, it has a rich, mellifluous, “Bing, Bong,” a definite announcement reminiscent of a past era when the butler would intone with a dead pan, “Mr Pish Posh to see you, sir.”

“Ah, very good, Smithers,” you’d say, “Show him into the Library, if you would, and inform him that I’ll be there presently.”

“Very good, sir.”

It’s the kind of chime that says, “There’s someone at the door wishing to see you. However, there’s no need to rush as I’m sure they can wait a few moments, but, if you choose not to answer the door then I shouldn’t worry about it since they’ll either ring the doorbell again or they’ll go away.”

I love our doorbell. It’s another little treasure, hidden in plain sight, that reinforces the history and underscores the quirkiness of this building. You couldn’t possibly replace it with some modern day equivalent because there just isn’t a modern day equivalent.

The first thing you see is the bell push, that’s the little fella above. Isn’t he great? He looks to be made of brass and has this wonderful outline with a beautiful worn patina that only comes from that combination of being rubbed by untold numbers of fingers or thumbs as they reach to press the button in his belly, and from being weathered over time.

I never noticed him at first when we originally looked at the house but as soon as I did I was enchanted by his pot-bellied charm. When we closed on the house and had the electricity reconnected, one of the first things I did was to test the doorbell. I was delighted when I pushed the button and was greeted by that delicious two tone chime. And it works from the back door, too.

It turns out that our doorbell is a bit of a classic. It is in fact a NuTone two tone resonator. I don’t expect you to be speechless with admiration, as it’s not a super posh design for the casing (see pictures below) – it’s actually a very simple and functional design to the housing, but it is an American classic. I won’t go into the history of doorbells in the US, there are others who have done that already (follow the links below), but NuTone is one of the original three (Edwards and Telechime, NuTone and the Rittenhouse Company) developers of the musical door chime.

I’d love to know how old it actually is, my guess would be that it’s from the ’50s or ’60s. As yet I haven’t found any specific reference to the model that we have but perhaps someone out there can help.

The outer casing for our NuTone 2 tone resonator doorbell.

The inner workings of our NuTone doorbell.

For information on the history of doorbells in the USA follow these links:


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