The Bell Wars : Planet Money The two biggest handbell companies in the world have been locked in a feud for decades. Why? | Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.

The Bell Wars

The Bell Wars

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Malmark handbells on the left and Schulmerich bells on the right. hide caption

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Malmark handbells on the left and Schulmerich bells on the right.

Note: This episode originally ran in 2014.

When you've got two companies down the road from each other making the same thing, you can almost guess the history. Originally there was just one company, but something happened. Maybe someone got angry, somebody left, and they started a second business, a competitor.

In this case, that someone was Jake Malta. He was the chief engineer at what was then the only bell shop in town, a place called Schulmerich. They made handbells, the kind you hear choirs play around Christmastime. Jake became obsessed with bells, so this was a pretty sweet job for him. That is, until management changed and Jake didn't get along with the new bosses. Jake decided to leave Schulmerich. He also decided he was going to make an even better handbell, a bell of supreme perfection that he hadn't quite achieved at Schulmerich.

Today on the show, the rivalry between two companies that make nearly all the world's handbells. And how they eventually made peace.

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