Andersen Fairy Tales, Andersen-Hans Christian

The Old Church Bell

The Old Church Bell The Old Church Bell

In a town called Marbach a church bell tolled. Upon its toll a woman birthed a son and his name was Johann Christoph Friedrich Schiller. The parents always loved the bell because they associated it with the birth of their prized son. The family moved away from the town, but not too far. The mother and the son were able to go back and visit friends.

In a visit, they discovered that the bell had been cracked and had been replaced. The old bell sat in the churchyard. Years passed. Johann had his rough times, but he grew up out of poverty to become a renowned poet for the country of Germany.

The bell on the other hand, seemed to have an uncertain fate. It was made of copper. Where would it go? Would it just be melted down for scrap?

The bell was melted down, many years later. As it turned out, the bell was used to create a statue of Friedrich that would be enjoyed by the German people for years to come.


As it turns out, this statue spoken of in the story is real, whether or not it was made from an actual bell that rang at the birth of Johann Christoph Friedrich Schiller is something I do not know. The statue was sculpted by Bertel Thorvaldsen, as if we had any doubt as to what sculptor Hans would write about.

The statue is green, so most likely it’s copper. The information I found on the statue wasn’t exactly forth-coming with a plethora of information on the origins of the statue.

Usually, when someone makes a piece of artwork, they don’t go into great details about where their materials came from. You don’t go to some fancy art show and see on the little plaque beside a painting, “Paint came from Hobby Lobby and Canvas came from Dick Blick.”

With a sculpture, there might have been more of a chance that Bertel would have known where the copper had come from. Most often marble is the substance people can tell you an origin of. If a statue is made of Carrera marble, we know it came from the quarry at Carrera, in Italy, but this is copper, it could have come from anywhere.


This is another story where an object and a person are intertwined their entire lives. Their paths meet and may cross a few times and ultimately they end up together. It’s a nice sentiment, but can we really track items like that? Can we really say, “This shoe was with me when I was born and it found me again when I was on my death bed”?

We do hold onto objects. Maybe we have a baby blanket that we still have, even though we’re adults. Maybe there’s a photo that floats around the family. Maybe there’s a ring that went from grandmother to daughter to granddaughter. Objects can follow us around, but whether or not we have items that come back into our lives, like the bell in this story or the bottle in a previous story, is something that we probably couldn’t know.


Friedrich must be another guy Hans really likes.

Weigh In

If you found out a soda bottle had been following you around your entire life, would it make the soda bottle any more special?

Do you think, if this story is true, that the origin of the copper for the statue makes the statue any more impressive?


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