Thursday, February 19, 2015

Drumming Champions Part 1

Courtesy of the great Larry McCormick: The beginnings of drumming in America, the icons, and masters of the system for teaching drumming skills. The heritage they passed on dating from the 1930's. This is part 1 of a series of interviews and discussions with those greats, who were Champions, and laid the groundwork those of us who followed.

Interviews Robert ("Bobby") Redican, and discusses J. Burns Moore, Frank Arsenault and others.

Reposted here to give the video more exposure.  Thank you Larry.  Looking forward to part 2 when Larry posts it.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Busiel's Brass Drum

From a reader of our blog:

Hi thanks so much!  I will give you the shortest version I can to tell the story of this drum.  I bought it at an estate auction about a week ago and it came with no information and the three old sticks as shown.  From the estate of Mr Dennison.  As I also purchased a huge box lot if books there I happened upon a request of military documents for one Albert L. Busiel.  Apparently a relative.  I ripped this into tiny pieces and threw the paper away.  Upon inspecting the drum I found a peep hole and shined my light in it.  To my surprise under the drum skin was written: 

George W Busiel
East Andover NH
May 29th 1879

I quickly recalled the Busiel name, got the papers glued back together and researched Albert L. Busiel.  It's a sad story and I'll let the pics I send tell it.  I'm wondering if he is holding the drum I have, left to his brother or if the drum is altogether different.

Drum details: approximately 12 inches high by 16 inches across.  Looks to be a brass body.  Skins are slightly warped.  No holes.  Eagle says Maker on the left and Boston on the right of his feet.  Drumsticks came with it.  One is stamped HDS.

I know the New Hampshire Militia was activated for the Spanish War in 1879 so it's possible George was the drummer for that time.  I guess the date of the drum will tell all.  Thank you so much I hope you enjoy the history.  

Sincerely-Patrick Marks
(Pics to follow)


On Feb 12, 2015, at 7:59 AM, Ellis Mirsky <> wrote:
Absolutely.  Please send as much info as you can.  The more photos the better.  Details of hardware and and inscriptions, writings, interior labels would be helpful.
(Sent from my iPhone)
Ellis R. Mirsky

On Feb 11, 2015, at 11:08 PM, Patrick Marks <> wrote:
Hi there.  If I sent you some pictures of my drum could you help me identify the maker?  Thanks in advance for your consideration.  I looked thru all your drum pictures but couldn't find a match.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

1890 Lyon & Healy Snare Drum on Exhibit at Musical Instrument Museum, Scottsdale, Arizona

The Musical Instrument Museum (Scottsdale, Arizona) is running a special exhibition on drums of the world through June 21, 2015.  An elaborately inlaid 1890 Lyon & Healy snare drum donated to the museum by the publisher of FieldDrums blog is part of the exhibit.  See Musical Instrument Museum Receives Two 1890 Lyon & Healy Drums, this blog, October 30, 2009.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Drumheads - What You Need to Know

For a good, short article on the characteristics and suitable uses of various kinds of drumheads, see "What You Need to Know About ... Drumheads," written by Frank Azzarto, in the Oct. 27, 2011 edition of Modern Drummer.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Tree Planting at Marine Corps Veterans’ Home – Iwo Jima Style

Happened in front of the house that Mom (Sgt., USMC retired) and Dad (Sgt., USMC retired) called home in the Bronx.

Photo credit: Steve Mirsky

You can't make these things up.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Confederate Drum

The drum was found in Blaine, Tennessee, twenty miles east of Knoxville, in a former Confederate camp. Drummer boys on both sides could be as young as nine years old. Drums communicated group activities in camp as well as orders on the march and in battle. At the Battle of Fort Sanders, the youngest person killed was Charles Gardner, a 14-year-old drummer, from the 2nd Michigan.


The McClung Museum at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, aims to advance the understanding of natural history and culture through our collections, exhibitions, research, and outreach programming. The McClung Museum, which was opened in 1963, has strong collections in anthropology, archaeology, material and visual culture, and natural history.

Exhibits at the museum showcase the geologic, historical, and artistic past of Tennessee, as well as cultures from around the globe. In doing so, the museum seeks to promote a better understanding and respect for the world’s cultural heritage.

As a part of the university, the McClung supports and participates in the mission to serve the state, region, and nation through scholarship, teaching, artistic creation, professional practice, and public service. The McClung is one of only eighteen museums in Tennessee to be accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, reflecting the institution’s commitment to excellence.

Wurlitzer Bass Drum, Model 1460

The Rudolph Wurlitzer Company was established in 1856 in Cincinnati, Ohio by Rudolph Wurlitzer (1831–1941), a German immigrant whose family had manufactured and sold musical instruments for over a century before his birth. Wurlitzer’s Catalog Number 118, dated 1921, states that Wurlitzer is the “Largest General Musical House in the World,” and as such, manufactured and sold all types of drums and percussion instruments.

Page 75 of the catalog bears the heading “The Unrivaled Wurlitzer Bass Drums” and includes the Model No. 1460 Bass Drum, a rope-tuned drum available in ten different sizes, ranging from 12 to 14 inches in depth and from 24 to 36 inches in width. The drum was available in either maple or mahogany shells, and it had detachable leather ears with “improved type cord hooks.” Twelve ears, each with a pair of hooks, are shown on the catalog picture.

This 12 x 26-inch drum was part of a collection belonging to Tom Lonardo, Sr., who owned Lonardo Piano Co. in Paris, Tennessee from 1963 to 1991. It features a 3-ply mahogany shell—reinforced inside by two maple hoops—and natural-finished maple counterhoops. Though originally manufactured with twelve leather tuning ears, only eleven decorated, leather tuning ears remain. These ears, in conjunction with the eleven “improved” cord hooks on each side of the drum, provide tension on the rope for tuning the two calfskin heads. Inside, a prominent paper label identifies the maker: “The Rudolph Wurlitzer Co. Manufacturers of Drums, Band Instruments. Cincinnati, O. Send for Catalogue.”

Source: Rhythm Discovery Center website at

Monday, December 22, 2014

Early American Patriotic Painted Drum

Early American Patriotic Painted Drum

Lot #: 20
Ca 1795. 15.75" height x 16" diameter. Void of maker's label. Black stenciled letters Liberty and initials AJF. "Chicken head" eagle with patriotic shield. The eagle is clutching a 16-star American flag in one talon and olive branches in the other. Body of drum is secured together at the seam with rivets.
Price Realized $6,325


Sanford Augustus "Gus" Moeller Wooden Polychrome Painted Field Drum

Sanford Augustus "Gus" Moeller Wooden Polychrome Painted Field Drum

Lot #: 454
Sanford Augustus "Gus" Moeller Wooden Polychrome Painted Field Drum, c. 1957, for the "Sons of the American Legion Post," Manhasset, New York, impressed mark, with a pair of drumsticks, related books and pamphlets.  
Estimate $300-500
Price Realized $356


Union Manufacturing Co. Civil War Eagle Drum

Civil War Era Hand-Painted Drum with Eagle Motif

Lot #: 203
17" width x 14" height. Body of drum with a worn image of an eagle and patriotic shield with motto E. Pluribus Unum in a riband. Label inside drum reads, Drum materials of all kinds major staffs, flag staffs, ornaments, fife and drum sticks. Union Manufacturing Co., West Baltimore St.  Baltimore, M.  
An almost identical drum is located in the Maryland Historical Society was owned by Union drummer boy James W. Sank. It bears a silver plaque that reads, James W. Sank, by the officers and men of Camp A Purnell Legion May 1863. Sank was one of the many young men who were drummers marching beside the ranks and often facing the most fire during battles.
Price Realized $1,725


Third Maine Infantry Regiment Drum

Third Maine Infantry Regiment Drum

Lot #: 202
16" width x 15.25" height. Hand-painted lettering on face of drum forming a circle Third Maine Infantry Reg. Opposite side of drum with large hand painted eagle clutching a patriotic shield rendered in yellow, red, white and blue.  Paper label inside reads Drum and Fife Made and Sold by J. & G. Dennison Freeport. 
Estimate: $800-1,200


Metal Field Snare Drum

Snare Drum

Lot #: 158
12.5" height x 15" width. Metal body complete with leather tension heads and possibly the original cords.
Price Realized $588

Horstmann Field Snare Drum

Civil War Snare Drum

Lot #: 157
14" high x 16" wide. One of the tension mounts is stamped Horstmann's Phila. Buff snares are in excellent condition and complete. See Graf (2006:200) for illustration of a similar drum.
Price Realized $705

Fife, Drum & Bugle

Pair of Drum Sticks, PLUS Fife and Bugle

Lot #: 676
Pair of drum sticks with holder, plus fife and bugle.
Price Realized $403


Field Drum

Painted tin drum with an American flag, 6'' h., 11

Lot #: 671
Painted tin drum with an American flag, 6'' h., 11'' w., together with a bentwood drum, 13'' h., 15'' w.
Price Realized $608


Eli Brown Drum, ca. 1833

Eli Brown Drum, ca. 1833

Lot #: 166

Paint-decorated Field Drum, Eli Brown, Windsor, Connecticut, c. 1833, the drum with lapped-seam maple shell applied with a distinctive brass tack geometric pattern of a circle and diamonds around the vent hole, and with polychrome-painted American eagle, shield, and stars, which was possibly painted after the drum was purchased; the interior bearing a paper maker's label reading "ELI BROWN, DRUM MANUFACTURER, HAS CONSTANTLY FOR SALE BASS AND SNARE DRUMS/MADE IN THE NEATEST AND BEST MANNER/Windsor (Wintonbury Soc.) Conn. 1833 No. 1712."; with red-painted hoops, later ropes and leather ears, accompanied by a later pair of drumsticks, (imperfections), wd. 13 1/2, dia. 17 1/2 in. 
Note: Eli Brown descended in a family which settled in the Windsor, Connecticut, area, and whose ancestors served in the Revolutionary War. The Browns of Wintonbury were mainly subsistence farmers and it is proposed by some that a few members used their additional skills of coopering to make drums, some possibly carried in the Revolutionary War. The drum business operated until the mid-19th century by Benjamin, Moses, William, and Eli (the most prolific of the four) Brown. It is reported that over 100 Brown-made drums are held in museums, fife and drum corps, and historical societies.  
Estimate $800-1,200
Missing 13 tacks, paint loss on both hoops, losses to edge of top hoop, varnish on paint-decorated area on shell is darkened and alligatored, probable replaced heads, the bottom head has a loss and a 1 in. tear, and is slightly separated from hoop about 10 in. around edge, it also shows evidence of a previous snare device on the bottom drum head, later ropes and leather ears (which were put on upside down). 
The absence of a condition statement does not imply that the lot is in perfect condition or completely free from wear and tear, imperfections or the effects of aging. Condition requests can be obtained via email (lot inquiry button) or by telephone to the appropriate gallery location (Boston/617.350.5400 or Marlborough/508.970.3000). Any condition statement given, as a courtesy to a client, is only an opinion and should not be treated as a statement of fact. Skinner Inc. shall have no responsibility for any error or omission.

Price Realized $2,040

March 3rd, 2013


Oliver Ditson Drum

Drum and Two Pairs of Sticks

Lot #: 154
Drum and Two Pairs of Sticks, c. late 19th century, wooden drum made by OLIVER DITSON COMPANY, BOSTON, NEW YORK with calf skin heads, leather tabs, and iron rope hooks, two pair of wooden sticks, and one single, ht. 8 3/4, wd. 16 in.  
Estimate $200-400
Some tears in calf skin heads, leather tabs dry from age. 
The absence of a condition statement does not imply that the lot is in perfect condition or completely free from wear and tear, imperfections or the effects of aging. Condition requests can be obtained via email (lot inquiry button) or by telephone to the appropriate gallery location (Boston/617.350.5400 or Marlborough/508.970.3000). Any condition statement given, as a courtesy to a client, is only an opinion and should not be treated as a statement of fact. Skinner Inc. shall have no responsibility for any error or omission.
Price Realized $720


Civil War Drum ID'd to Ayers of Chester

Civil War Drum ID'd to Ayers of Chester

Lot #: 191
13" height x 16" diameter. Only of a fragment of the inside label remains tracing its origins to a New York maker. Complete with leather tension mounts and bottom head marked in ink H.E. Ayers, Chester. 
Estimate: $1,000-2,000