Friday, December 12, 2014

Historic Germantown's Fife & Drum Collection

Ed. Note: We found this article and wanted to bring it to the attention of our readers.  Note the clearly Wm. S. Tompkins drum (C) below.
A Partnership of 15 extraordinary Philadelphia houses, destinations and museums, Historic Germantown tells the stories of American Liberty and the everyday people who fought for it, reflecting a neighborhood of independence-seekers, community-builders, and American Dreamers.
Historic Germantown, located just minutes from Center City, is where Philadelphia’s only Revolutionary War Battle was fought; where the first-ever American protest against slavery was written; and where one of the few remaining houses on the Underground Railroad still stands.  United by a common mission to celebrate the community’s fascinating cultural heritage, Historic Germantown provides knowledge and resources to preserve Germantown’s historic sites, interpret them to visitors and incorporate them into the life of the local community.

Historic Germantown's Fife & Drum Collection
[Originally published July 10, 2013 at]
In honor of the Plymouth Fife & Drum Corps from Plymouth, MI coming to Historic RittenhouseTown on Wednesday, July 17th [2013] for a special performance, we headed to the basement of the Germantown Historical Society to find our own Fife & Drum collection. Check it out!
Baker's Drum
(A) Small, dark brown leather drum with wooden interior support. Donated by Mr. and Mrs. Richard Hughes Jr, 1949.
The small, dark brown drum (A) was used by Christopher Ludwig, who was appointed Baker-General of the Continental Army by the Continental Congress in 1777. Ludwig was an early supporter of the Revolution, was involved in the 1777 Battle of Germantown, and often dined at George Washington’s dinner parties.
(B) Drum with eagle on it made by Major Endt in 1844. Donated by Aaron Jones Wister Sr, 1917.
The ‘eagle’ drum (B) belonged to the Germantown Blues aka the Germantown Band, an early 19th century organization led by Jacob Howe.
(C) Drum with red, gold, and black bands at top and bottom strung together by cotton rope along with one of its drumsticks. Donated by Rachael A. Watson, 1948.
The last drum (C) was used at the Battle of Gettysburg and Battle of Antietam as well as in G.A.R. (a Union army veterans organization) parades in Germantown. Bought from Mr. George Wolf, a drummer in Pennsylvania’s Bucktail Regiment of Ellis Post No. 6 during the Civil War, by Mr. Thomas F. Watson Sr.
Of the fifes pictured, the slightly longer fife (top) was used in the Civil War and belonged to Philip M. Hammer, grandfather of the donor.
Dark brown/black wood fifes with brass rings. Donated by Mrs. Holman White, 1946.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Union Drummer Boy: Sixth Plate Tintype

Union Drummer Boy: Sixth Plate Tintype. Hand-tinted sixth plate tintype in embossed leather case depicting a standing view of a drummer boy. His hat, knapsack, coat front and drum rim are tinted red. He is posed with his drum sticks placed on the drum head, ready to tap out a martial tune. The rare image is very clear with excellent contrast.


John L. Clem, "The Drummer Boy of Shiloh," Autograph Letter Signed "Jno. L. Clem."

Description: John L. Clem, "The Drummer Boy of Shiloh," Autograph Letter Signed "Jno. L. Clem." Two pages, 8.5" x 11", on G.A.R. letterhead, Washington, January 13, 1929, to Newton Sample regarding his participation in the Civil War, in part: "I did my drumming just the same, before as after enlisting. I was ten ½ years old at Shiloh." Clem spent his entire career in the army. He retired as a brigadier general in August 1915, the last Civil War veteran to serve in the U.S. Army.


1848 Mexican War Order for Infantry Drums of William Ent

1848 Mexican War Order for Infantry Drums of William Ent One of America's Premiere Early Drum Makers

WILLIAM ENT. One of America's Premiere Early Drum Makers of Germantown, Pennsylvania.
January 22, 1848 Mexican War Period, Original Manuscript Document Signed, "Wm Ent," Choice Extremely Fine. This order measures approx. 6" x 8" being in regard to the purchase of twelve Infantry Drums for the U.S. Army at a cost of $5.40 each, to be produced by Army Drum maker William Ent, of Germantown, Pennsylvania. This Document indicates that the drums were received and inspected on January 22nd by inspector Aaron Bockins, then received at the US Arsenal on January 24th and approved by Edwards S. Fayssoux, Military Storekeeper. Finally, on February 12th, 1848, maker William Ent Signs upon this document for his receipt of payment of $64.80 for the approved drums. William Ent made military drums for the Army and Marines from the 1830's until the late 1850's and his drums were used into the Civil War. They were of fine quality, and are very collectible today. Bright, clean and fresh with eye appeal, this document has one centerfold and looks great for display.

The National Music Museum includes the William F. Ludwig II Collection which features a wide variety of materials, including an outstanding collection of drums. Outstanding among the rope-tension drums in the William F. Ludwig II Collection is a Civil War side snare drum, constructed of ash, that was built by William Ent, Germantown, Pennsylvania, ca. 1850.

Printed on paper label inside drum shell, visible through vent hole: Drums, Fifes, / REGIMENTAL COLOURS, / TAMBORINES, & C. / MADE AND REPAIRED BY / WILLIAM ENT, / GERMANTOWN, / Philadelphia County, Pa. Ash shell, natural finish, 422mm (16-1/2") x 414mm (16-5/16"). Rope tension. Nine leather tugs (one missing). Wood rims painted red, with holes drilled for the rope to pass through. Shell-shaped brass snare adjuster. William F. Ludwig II Collection, 2001.

Drums of the 1850's and 60's one would expect to see who was making them, and what they were like. We would notice a surprisingly large number of drum manufacturers and a great demand for their product. According to official Army records, the U.S. Government purchased over 32,000 drums from 1861 to 1865. That number does not include drums used by the Southern Army or the ones that were purchased by private citizens for use in community concert and marching bands.

Many of the major drum suppliers of the day were from cities like Baltimore, Boston, New York, Philadelphia and surrounding areas.


Unpainted Civil War Snare Drum

Nice Civil War Snare Drum 15" tall; 17 1/4" in diameter. Unpainted wood showing about 70% old varnish, decorated with small round-head brass tacks in typical pattern surrounding the vent hole. Klemm and Brother 705 Market Street Philadelphia maker's label visible through the vent hole. Hoops with about 70% original red paint. The drum retains all leather tightening straps and is complete with period skin heads. The ropes are replaced; none of the snares remain but brass fitting is intact. Estimate: $1,250 - up.


Civil War Brass Drumstick Holders

Pair of Civil War Brass Drumstick Holders. Regulation- style brass plate with heavy brass ferrules for the sticks, one example complete with the original iron wire fastening hooks on the back for attaching to the drum sling; the other lacking the hooks but marked "SOISTMANN". Very good. Estimate: $400 - up.


Early 19th Century Militia Snare Drum

Untouched Early 19th Century Militia Snare Drum Untouched condition, the body with old undisturbed yellow ochre paint, brass tack design around the vent hole perfect. Five, four-pointed brass stars held fast with iron tacks also at the vent. The red hoops, heads, ropes and tighteners appear to be original, one head has a 3" rip. The drum measures 16 1/4" high with a 16 1/2" diameter. Accompanying the drum is a 1940's newspaper article picturing the drum, at that time housed at the Atlanta Museum, stating that the drum had been used in the American Revolution, and a typed note stating that the drum had been used by T.R.R. Cobb to "Drum Up The Troops" during the Civil War. Estimate: $1,500 - $2,000.


Circa 1790 Field Snare Drum

Circa 1790 Eagle-Decorated American Military Snare Drum. Doubtless the earliest example we've ever cataloged. In nice untouched condition and exhibiting unusual fabrication technique. 15 1/4" high, 15" diameter, including hoops. Unquestionably original size with wood reinforcing hoops at top and bottom inside. Both original heads present, one with a hole with no loss. Also retains what appears to be the original rope and leather tighteners. Hoops and body with very prominent seams, indicative of this early period. The body of the drum is unique in our experience, fabricated of two halves with a third 5 1/2" section on the outside for reinforcement and to cover the seam of the underlying two halves. The top and bottom section are painted red, the center outer section painted yellow. The drum is further decorated with a wonderful, primitive, black spread wing eagle with 10" wingspan. The eagle clutches an American shield on one side, cluster of arrows on the other, with riband below. Additionally, although there is no maker's label, and clearly never was, there are 1/2" stenciled black letters, somewhat faded, on the body near the top hoop, which appear to be "Hale / 21". Significance unknown but very possibly the maker. Very nice untouched condition. Showing its great age but very sound and complete with a set of period sticks. A very scarce American military drum from this early period. Estimate: $2,200 - up.


Civil War Drummer Boy Medal of Honor Recipient Benjamin F. Hilliker

Medal of Honor Recipient Benjamin F. Hilliker, 8th Wisconsin Infantry, Autograph Note Signed "B. F. Hilliker"

Medal of Honor Recipient Benjamin F. Hilliker, 8th Wisconsin Infantry, Autograph Note Signed "B. F. Hilliker". One page, 6" x 9", Rochester, New York, August, 1911. Hilliker writes, in full: "B. G. Hilliker / Co. A 8. Wis. Vol. Inft. / Shot through the head at the / Siege of Vicksburg leading / a line of skirmishers being a drummer was awarded a / Medal of Honor by Congress / was personally acquainted with / Gen. Rosecrans & Sherman and / my wife was the Flag Bearer of / the Calif. Delegation at / Rochester N.Y. Aug. 1911". Hilliker was shot through the head near Mechanicsburg, Mississippi. Though disfigured, he survived and was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions that day. His Medal of Honor citation reads: "For extraordinary heroism on 4 June 1863, while serving with Company A, 8th Wisconsin Infantry, in action at Mechanicsburg, Mississippi. When men were needed to oppose a superior Confederate force Musician Hilliker laid down his drum for a rifle and proceeded to the front of the skirmish line which was about 120 feet from the enemy. While on this volunteer mission and firing at the enemy he was hit in the head with a minie ball which passed through him. An order was given to "lay him in the shade; he won't last long." He recovered from this wound being left with an ugly scar." Fine condition. Estimate: $200 - $300.



Civil War Contract Drum - Antietam Battlefield Recovered Infantry Eagle Drum

Relic of the Bloodiest Day of the Civil War
Incredible Antietam Battlefield Recovered Infantry Eagle Drum The drum shell is full height and not cut down: 13" tall, and 16 3/8" in interior diameter. There are no heads, rims, hoops or ropes, but fine original paint, bright with only minor losses. The vent hole exhibits typical brass tack decoration. Pasted on the exterior bottom edge is an old star pattern paper label with an inscription in old ink reading: 8 T[e]nor [d]rum Battle of Antietam Civil War. Obviously placed on the drum for identification in a display of war relics. Matching this is a metal bordered circular cardboard tag reading: "Tenor Drum Shell picked up on the battleground of Antietam after Battle of Antietam in 1862" with the number "8" on the reverse. Pasted on the interior is an affidavit signed by a Washington County Maryland Justice of the Peace on behalf of Jacob B. Lightner, testifying that the drum was recovered from the Antietam battlefield shortly after the battle in 1862. Approximately 20% of the affidavit is missing which includes the year, but the Justice of the Peace signed his name and noted "My commission expires May 5th 1916". Next to the affidavit is pasted a 1926 dated newspaper column with a letter written about the Battle of Antietam. The pattern of the eagle and brass tacks around the vent hole pinpoint the drum as a product of the Horstmann firm of Philadelphia. The drum has a horizontal crack about 2/3 the way up the drum and running most of the way around, but scarcely visible from the outside. The crack has been stabilized by an old repair utilizing three strips of thin wood glued into place and a newer repair also using wood strips.  A fine relic of the bloodiest day of the Civil War. Estimate: $8,000 - up.


Civil War Contract Drum

Civil War U.S. Regulation Eagle Snare Drum Civil War U.S. Regulation Eagle Snare Drum 16 1/2" diameter, 15 13/8" high including hoops. The drum retains about 95% of the original painted decoration with minor losses only, absolutely untouched with wonderful mellow age patina. Brass tack design around the air hole perfect. Heads, lighteners and ropes all appear to be original. Both heads display rips. Retains the original interior paper label "Manufactured by A. Rogers Flushing, L.I.". A beautiful example of a regulation Civil War drum. Estimate: $5,500 - up.


Friday, November 14, 2014

Dr. Fredrick Fennell Playing The Last Soistman Drum Ever Built

Reader Michael Jedd wrote to us:

This evening my son brought over some old photo albums of mine. Included is a photo of Dr. Fredrick Fennell playing on my drum.  Dr. Fennell was guest conducting a U.S. Coast Guard Band Concert in New London.  I believe it was the fall of 1980.  A very good friend of mine hosted a party for Dr. Fennell at his house.  Knowing of Dr. Fennell's Fife & Drum Recording with the Eastman Wind Ensemble on the Mercury Label I decided to bring my drum to the event.  He graciously played a few notes on the instrument.

I thought you would appreciate the photo.


Michael G. Jedd

Ed. Note: For more about the drum, please see "The Story Behind the Last Soistman Drum Ever Built", this blog, June 23, 2009, and the comments to that post.

19th Century Sheet Brass Eagle Stencil

Reader Bruce Jarvis wrote to us:

Several years ago, I acquired a 19th century sheet brass stencil of a fairly detailed eagle that I suspect may have been used as a template for military drums.  The eagle measures approximately 13" H x 17" W.  The eagle has outstretched wings between which is a three band arch of 22 stars.  Unlike every drum eagle photo I could find, this one clutches the ribbon in its talons rather than its beak but the ribbon is wide and clearly designed to take added lettering.  I was wondering if you wouldn't mind looking at a photo of it to give me your sense of what it is.

Thanks for your time and help,

Bruce Jarvis

Ed. Note: I could not find anything with a quick Google search.  Readers with information to share are asked to do so by email to

Monday, November 10, 2014

Drummer Boy

Drummer Boy, by Josephn Goodhue Chandler, (American, 1813-1884)

Depicted with a river and hills in the distance, sky at sunset.  Oil on canvas, 44-1/2 x 31-1/4.

The stretcher and remnants of an old printed label reading in part "... rear entra(nce) NEW YORK / ... YORK /ANTIQUES EXPOSITION ... ." The label is said to have referred to Albany at one time, indicating an exhibition in that city, possibly celebrating the centennial of 1876.  Chandler was born in South Hadley, Massachusetts, where his family owned a small farm.  After a brief apprenticeship with a cabinetmaker, he studied painting in Albany, New York, between the years 1827-1832.  Most of his known paintings date from 1837-1852, a period when he traveled parts of the Connecticut River Valley, particularly northwestern Massachusetts, working as an itinerant painter.

Provenance: Alice Braunfeld, Los Angeles, early 1980s.

Literature: For additional information on the artist, see John W. Keefe, "Joseph Goodhue Chandler, Itinerant Painter of the Connecticut River Valley," The Magazine Antiques, November 1972, pp. 849-854.  Note the resemblance of Chandler's maternal grandparents, figs. 2 & 3, to the drummer boy.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Mother And The Three Camps - An Analysis by Fred N. Johnson

Fred N. Johnson recently updated his continuing analysis of The Camp Duty.  His analysis, titled "The Mother And The Three Camps", can be downloaded in PDF.

Fred's manuscript, "The Mother And The Three Camps", can be downloaded in PDF.  Here's the introduction:

"The Mother and The Three Camps\2\ is one of the oldest military drum beatings. It is still played today by drummers worldwide. “Mother” refers to “The Mother Roll”, which is the 5 stroke roll. British troops called this drum beating “Run, boys, run”.\3\
The objectives of this piece of writing are to:
  1. Provide a brief history of The Three Camps.
  2. Clarify historical, contemporary and modern notation to help some drummers better understand and enjoy playing this historical beating.
  3. Clarify performance characteristics that have been altered or misunderstood over time.
  4. Provide an instructional document by way of examples and explanations of roll notation and varying roll velocities transcribed into modern notation.
  5. Invite input to further enhance this piece for continued publication on the Canadian Associates Drumming Rudimental Excellence (CADRE) website.\4\"


    2 Referred to throughout this paper as “The Three Camps”.
    3 Songs & Music of the Redcoats 1642–1902, by Lewis Winstock.

Seattle Pacific University's Rope Drum Corps

The Drums of War

By Clint Kelly ( | Photos by Dan Sheehan
The Rope Drum Corps uses Civil War era drums at events such as Ivy Cutting on the Seattle Pacific University campus, giving listeners an opportunity to hear drums that once lead soldiers into war.
To be a drummer boy in the Civil War was one of the most dangerous positions in the regiment. Because it was his job to signal the troops to assemble, advance, or retreat, he was often targeted by the enemy. Every military commander understood: Kill the drummer and silence the drum and you will throw the opposing regiment into confusion and chaos. 
Director of Percussion Studies Dan Adams owns six authentic Civil War drums, half ceremonial, half showing the scars of battle. “Each has its distinct voice,” says Adams, “and produces a sound you cannot get from anything else.” Years after acquiring them, he still gets spine-tingling chills whenever they are played, especially together. “I don’t know a lot of other universities that use their historic drums in concert.”
He knows that many collectors of the rare and expensive Civil War drums preserve them by leaving them to sit unseen on a shelf. He takes a different approach. “These things need to talk, to be heard. No two sound exactly alike.” Like old sailing ships, the drums are constructed of whatever wood was available in the area at the time, mostly the maple and ash of the eastern hardwood forests.
Dan AdamsDan Adams
The SPU Rope Drum Corps leads the processional of faculty and graduates at Ivy Cutting, plays for area Memorial Day commemorations, regales audiences at the Northwest Percussion Festival, and performs at two campus concerts in winter and spring. The March 5 percussion concert at 7:30 p.m. in E.E. Bach Theatre was free, open to the public, and featured the historic drums.
It is the more advanced percussion students who are allowed the privilege of playing the Civil War drums, but still they receive a complete tutorial in how to keep the instruments tuned, their historical significance, and how to properly play and care for them. Adams, whose resonant voice bears a timbre not unlike the drums, smiles. “These drums instilled a sense of valor and patriotism in the soldiers of the Civil War. We treat the instruments with a lot of respect.”
Adams’ interest in the drums blossomed in his student days when he visited Civil War battlefields, bought a “pretty beat up” battle drum to restore, and “got the bug.” He has grown experienced in spotting fakes (“watch for makers labels on the inside of the drums”) and always keeps his eyes peeled for additions to his collection. And he thinks back to those little drummer boys, most too young to fight, who risked their lives to guide the troops.

Dan Adams

Dan Adams

Director of Percussion Studies and Percussion Ensemble
Phone: 206-281-2143
Office: Beegle 1

Education: MM, University of Washington
Dan Adams, the director of Percussion Ensemble, has been director of percussion studies at Seattle Pacific since 1988. Mr. Adams earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Idaho and a Master of Music degree from the University of Washington. His principal teachers have been Howard Robbins, Joe Morello, Peter Erskine, Babatunde Olatunji, Adebisi Adeleke, Tom Collier, and Jim Chapin.
Mr. Adams has more than 40 years' experience as a private percussion instructor. He has served as the district music supervisor for the Rainier School District and, since 1978, he has been a special percussion consultant to the Olympia School District.
Mr. Adams has performed with the Ashi Opera of Japan, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Allegro Dance Series, Pacific Northwest Chamber Chorus, Orchestra Seattle, Olympic Brass Ensemble, Seattle Pro Musica, Choir of the Sound, and the Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan Society. His musical theater credits include the Civic Light Opera, Tacoma Actors Guild, Chinook Dinner Theater, Washington Center for the Performing Arts, the Village Theatre, the Renton Civic Theater, and the Bagley Wright Theater. He has shared the stage with artists such as Johnny Cash, Ricky Skaggs, Pam Tillis, Delbert McClinton, Albert Collins, Hal Ketchum, Chaka Khan, and Etta James. His recording credits include Messenger, the Soni Ventorum, the Diamonds, Ventures guitarist Nokie Edwards, Primo Kim, the Mazeltones, Gene Nygaard, Lucky Garcia, Greg Adams of Tower of Power, Forrest Lee Jr., contemporary artist VEO, and Orchestra Seattle.

Visit his website at

Monday, June 23, 2014

Lancraft Old Timers 1963

Uploaded to YouTube on Aug 25, 2008
See the traditional "Sturtz" style of drumming that is fading from use in many Ancient Corps. Names Like Frank Moriarty, Frank Arsenault, Hugh Quigley, Jack Tencza, Jack McGuire, Bob Redican to name a few.

Lancraft Fife & Drum Corps Historical Archives
Sound Track: 1975 State Convention, Torrington, Connecticut

Video Conversion: Sherwood "Woody" Sheades
Video Editing: David J. DeLancey

Note: Sound track is the last time Lancraft competed in the Connecticut Fife & Drum Association as a corps.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Majestic's Prophonic Snare - Innovative

Innovative technology to the art of snare drum musicianship

Majestic’s new Prophonic concert snare drums bring innovative technology to the art of snare drum musicianship. It’s newly designed mechanism allows for the use of up to four different types of snare material simultaneously, each with individual tension adjustment and throw off levers, while still allowing all to be engaged or disengaged together with a master switch. This unique feature combined with a variety of available shell configurations and many options for snare type allow the Prophonic snare drum to be easily configured for a multitude of concert settings. From the largest orchestra hall to the most intimate chamber setting, the Prophonic sets the new standard for the professional classical percussionist.

Majestic's new Prophonic concert snare drums bring innovative technology to the art of snare drum musicianship. It's newly designed mechanism allows for the use of up to four different types of snare material simultaneously, each with individual tension adjustment and throw off levers, while still allowing all to be engaged or disengaged together with a master switch.

This unique feature combined with a variety of available shell configurations and many options for snare type allow the Prophonic snare drum to be easily configured for a multitude of concert settings. From the largest orchestra hall to the most intimate chamber setting, the Prophonic sets the new standard for the professional classical percussionist.

For Audio Samples

Henry Potter & Company's New Drums


These classic side drums come as standard with a 16” x 16” rope tension shell, calf heads, gut snares and traditional patterned stud-work. Different paint finishes and emblazoning available on request.
These side drums were originally built for The Guild of Ancient Fifes and Drums. The Guild was formed from a group of aficionados and professionals with an interest in historical and Basel fifing and drumming and appeared in period costume, complete with tricorn hats, playing at various parades and gatherings. These drums can be heard on the recordings Lo Sposalizio and The Coronation of King George II by The Kings Consort.

16" "Side Drums"