Sunday, August 9, 2015

Civil War Drum on eBay

Drum dealer John David O'Neill is back with another beauty on eBay which he describes as:

Civil War Drum

16" Rope Tension Drum - Beautiful - Calfskins Gut

Civil War Style Rope Tension Drum !!!!
American marching Field Drum; drum is in original playing condition. 
Drum Shell measures 16" Dia. x 12 " Deep, - Drum's Overall height approximately measures 14 ".
Mahogany Drum Shell has a beautiful aged finish.
16" Diameter Calfskin Drum-Heads and Gut Snares.
Maple Hoops with Nine (9) Leather Ears, - Hemp Rope.
Period correct: Civil War Hinged Snare Strainer.
Drum produces a Very Loud, Crisps, Deep, Old -School Low-Toned Rattle.
Perfect Fife & Drum Musters,  Civil War Re-enactments, Military Veterans Group, Town Band or Military Display!!!

CFD - 11 Nails to Wide Awake

CFD – Company of Fifers and Drummers Museum - 11 Nails to Wide Awake

By Matt Alling
CT Pro Percussion
203-228-0488 - Phone

A good friend of mine and fellow drum restoration specialist is known for saying “Every drum has a story, but the drums aren’t talking.”

Having opened up a few thousand drums in my life time, I can attest to the accuracy of that statement in most cases.  Being involved in the fife and drum community I consider myself fortunate to work on many rope tension drums because often, when a drum is worked on, the repairs are accompanied by a signature and a date or even a label from the shop doing the work.  On some occasions I will find names of people that played the drum in the past and sometimes I am lucky enough to get an accompanying date.  In the much larger everyday business of restoration though, that is a rare thing, and finding a drum with that kind of information is often looked at as a home run.  On even rarer occasions, I find a drum that just knocks it out of the park in Grand Slam fashion with more history and provenance than I could have ever hoped for.  This is the story of one of those times.

While continuing what is proving to be a monumental undertaking at the Museum of the Company of Fifers and Drummers last week I pulled a bass drum from its lofty perch where it has sat, quiet and unassuming, as countless people have passed through the museum  over the years.  On the facing head are the words “The Continentals, Colchester Conn” with a large bull in the center of the head.

The Continentals are a fife and drum corps that formed around the turn of the 20th century. On my list the drum was given a number and shown as being a drum from that corps but no maker or any other information was listed.  As I removed the drum from its perch a tack pattern came into view that left little doubt as to what family made that drum.  The big question was which member of that family was responsible for this drum?

Part of my task in this project is maintaining the drums and performing repairs when needed, but mostly just general upkeep and maintenance.  A close inspection of the drum revealed that there have been numerous repairs made over the last two centuries.  A closer inspection brought to light a problem with the drum that made me cringe a bit.  Somewhere along the line, someone thought that it would be a good idea to nail the flesh hoops and the counter hoops to the shell itself.  (I can feel most of you cringing as you read this just as I did.)

Over time, the nails have started to pull out slightly and had pulled right through the counter hoop in one spot and split the flesh hoop in another.  The decision was easy, I brought the drum back to my shop to remove the nails and make some new ears to replace three that were missing. 

Back at my shop I have a clean bench with a single drum on it.  After more than an hour I had carefully removed the rope from the drum, gently sliding it through each hole.  After another 30 minutes I had successfully removed the eleven 20th century nails from the flesh hoop and counter hoops that were the reason for the drum being in my shop.  As I slowly lifted the front head and hoop the smell of antique wood filled my shop.  It’s an unmistakable and very pleasant smell.  If you have ever walked into an antique shop then you know the smell I’m talking about.

The head came off and the drum's Brown label came into view thereby enabling the drum to be identified.  This drum was made by Benjamin Brown, Jr. and has a date of 1822 and a drum number of 631.  Underneath that label is a label from Odell Chapman that, given the bit of information I have on him, would be from sometime between 1918 and WWII.  There is also a lot of writing in chalk on the inside of the shell, partially covered by some repairs, that I am still trying to decipher. The best that I can make out are “Colchester”, “Company Drum” and “1842” or “1872”.  All of this information would be a great find on the inside of any drum. However, that information pales in comparison to the letter that Is pasted to the inside of the drum near the labels.

On a pristine piece of 8”x10” paper is a letter dated January 1910 that chronicles the history of the drum, who owned and played it from the time the drum was made until the letter was written in 1910.  Inasmuch as the Company Museum also has the history of the Continentals as well as photographs of the corps with the drum at the turn of the 20th century exist, we have an unbroken chain of custody from about the time the drum was made until present day.  The letter pictured below also contained a few other surprises.

The letter reads:

- - - - - - - - - - AN OLD BASS DRUM - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

This Old Colonial Drum was formerly used by what was called “ The Militia “ of Westchester, Society, Town of Colchester, Conn.

It was used and has been handed down from the days of General Campion an officer in the Continental Army and in his  day said to be the wealthiest man in the state.

The (xxx) drum was brought out with “The Militia” on what was called “Regimental Training Day” . This occurred on the first Monday in May.

The drum was used when the Hon. Oliver Wolcott was Gov. of Conn. and Benj. Adams was Cap’t of The Old Militia.

Among those who beat the old drum were Lorin W. Loomis, Ralph T. Carrier, and J. Alonso Lamphere.

In the 1864-65 Ralph Carrier was the bass drummer, Later he was also the last Captain of the old order, the last bass drummer was J. A. Lamphier.  Among the last snare drummers were Stephen Day and Darius Stevens.  Among the fifers were William Brown and Samuel Williams (One eyed Sam as he was called.)

Among the Captains were Cap’t. Emmons, Cap’t Kellogg, Cap’t. David Foote, and Cap’t. Joseph Staples.

Cap’t. Ralph Carrier kept an inn located near the church Green (now the present sight [sic, site] of the parsonage) and the Arms Drums, and equipment were kept there.

In addition to service in “The Militia” the old drum was also used with “The Wide Awakes” a political organization formed in 1860 at the first election of Pres. Lincoln.  It went to Norwich
with the Wideawakes one night this same year.

In 1856 the drum was used during the Freemont Campaign. In 1868 another political organization was formed called the “Boys in Blue” and the old drum was on duty again with these men.

Considering its age the drum is in a good state of preservation although frail and will make the echoes reverberate when used as in the old time.

It is in the parish and is owned by a direct descendant of one of the 901(d) Militia, Mr. Festus Shailor, Esq. whose desire is that it shall always remain in the place.

Westchester, Conn.
Jan 1910

Above collected by W. E. Adams

It is the sentence regarding the “Wide Awakes” that caught my attention.  It states that the Wide Awakes formed in 1860 and used the drum but then goes on to say that the drum was used by them in Norwich (CT) later that same year.  The statement was something that I found curious as a passing reference so I did a bit of digging and found that the Wide Awakes traveled to Norwich in October of 1860 to participate in a massive gathering of 100,000 members from the Northeastern States to support Abraham Lincoln on his visit to Norwich, a major stop on the campaign trail.  The organization played in a parade in his honor and was part of the event's entertainment.  So now what we have is a drum made by Benjamin Brown, Jr. that was at some point repaired or resold by Odell Chapman, was used by several generals, militias, political organizations, fife and drum corps and was also played for Abraham Lincoln.  This makes for a provenance/pedigree on a drum that would be a truly amazing find for any collector or museum.

For more information about this drum and the rest of the collection of the Museum of the Company of Fifers and Drummers, please visit the museum in Ivoryton, Connecticut.  And, please consider a membership or tax-deductible donation to the Museum, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, to aid in the preservation of this amazing historic collection of drums. 


Matt Alling
CT Pro Percussion
203-228-0488 - Phone
Calfskin, it's the new plastic!


Thursday, July 30, 2015

CFD - The Company of Fifers and Drummers Museum

A NEW FEATURE - The Company of Fifers and Drummers Museum, an article by Matt Alling, guest blogger. For those of you that don’t know me, I am Matt Alling, owner of Connecticut Pro Percussion and Charter Oak Drums. I sell new and vintage drum gear and specialize in restorations. I am one of very few people in the country that still hand-make calfskin drum heads and I also make some custom drum related products out of leather.   As a third-generation drummer I have had sticks in my hands since the age of two and tinkering with drums for almost as long.  As an active member of the fife and drum community I am a member of the Ancient Mariners fife and drum corps in Guilford and routinely service and repair a lot of drums from people throughout the entire fife and drum world. 
Over the last several years of working on vintage and historic drums it became clear to me that while there is a lot of information available to the general public on modern drum companies like Ludwig, Slingerland, Gretsch, etc., the amount of information available on rope tension drum makers is both scarce and spread out over many different sources.  Most of those sources don’t include pictures and the information is generally limited to drum makers that had military contracts or just limited period.  Those sources will regularly reference makers such as Ent, C.F. SoistmanHorstman, Zimmerman, Brown, Lyon & Healy and a host of others that use addresses on labels for dating drums.  Unfortunately, many modern drum makers that produced rope tension drums such as Cooperman, Sanford “Gus” Moeller, Buck Soistman, Eames, Atwell and many others are not covered in any of those books. Because of that I decided to embark on a long journey to photograph as many drums and labels as I can and put all of that information in one source. 
In preparation for this undertaking I have received permission from a few museums and several private collectors to photograph their collections of drums and labels. The project started in earnest last week when I started photographing the collection of more than 150 drums currently housed at the Company of Fifers and Drummers museum in Ivoryton, Connecticut.  After my project is over I will be staying on as caretaker of the collection and will maintain it and repair drums as needed and help to try to fill in some of the information holes on each drum. The first drum that raised such question was one that I emailed Ellis Mirsky and Brian Hill about last week.  Ellis was kind enough to post the pictures and my email here on his site to see if anyone might have some useful information.  It was a few days later that Ellis asked me if I had considered writing about what I was doing at the museum and offered to host my blog on his site. What I will be doing during this process is to highlight some of the drums and unique finds in the museum as well as the process of cataloging all of the information and pictures.  I will start with a few drums and pictures today as well as some information that I found on them.  I hope that everyone reading this will enjoy taking this journey with me.  Ellis, thank you for the idea and opportunity.
The first two drums at the museum are appropriately cataloged by the Company as drums #1 & #2 in their collection.  The drums have a slightly more modern look than anything else in the collection, sticking out in the crowd, so to speak, with their black gloss Slingerland shells, the snare drum have a 16”x16” shell and the bass drum a 32”x14” monster.  The museum notes said that the drums were donated by Jim Flynn in 1976 and were played by the Morris County Militia fife and drum corps.  The only problem with this is that the drums have black and silver badges on them with a serial number that would indicate they were built in late 1976 or 1977.  Additionally, the solid gloss black color was not first cataloged by Slingerland until 1977.  So, if those drums were donated in 1976 then they should have looked brand new but the condition of the drums was a stark contrast to that reasoning.  Those drums have quite a bit of wear on them with the ears and ropes showing considerable wear and a few small repairs to the bass drum shell.  And so with this, my quest for information took off and the journey started.
I posted some pictures of these drums and a few others on Facebook in a page for Fife and Drum friends and the response to some of the pictures and information was almost immediate, receiving numerous replies and private messages within the first 90 minutes of the pictures being posted.  Within two hours I had received replies from several members of the Morris County Militia Alumni and was directed to their alumni page and then I was sent a private message by Jim Flynn Jr., son of the Jim Flynn that founded the corps.  Jim told me that his father founded the corps in 1969 in their basement and that he and his father were both founding members and Jim Jr. was the only founding member to play with the corps from its inception to their last performance at the Westbrook fife and drum muster in 1981.  I was told that the drums on display at the museum were the corps third and final set of drum and were made with Slingerland floor tom shells that were bought off the shelf with no holes drilled into them. The corps bought hoops and made their own ears and fitted them with Ludwig throw offs and butt ends and after the last performance, the drums were given to a lot of the drummers that helped to make them and played them for the last 5 years of their existence. 
After the corps completed building their drums they were first used in their 1976 season. Reb Blanchard was the young man that carried the 32” bass drum and can be seen in the above picture [to be provided] circa 1981.  The drum was used for the corps competition piece “New World Symphony” for its size and resonance and should be noted that the drum is wide open and free of any muffling.  The Morris County Militia racked up numerous championships during their 12 years of existence including New Jersey State Champions  for 9 consecutive years from 1972-1981, Northeast champions from 1975-1978 and national Champions in 1977 & 1978, the only two years they competed for national titles.  So, for anyone keeping score, these drums were used to win and impressive 11 championships, quite a pedigree for some unassuming modern looking drums in a room full of much older looking counterparts
The other drum that I want to discuss is a small drum, 14” in diameter by 13.75” tall (shell height), has hooks similar to what you would find on Lyon & Healy, with wheels on them and Civil War style ears. A twelve point star surrounded by 12 five point stars and bordered by tacks on both side.  A single five point star to the left of the larger design in surrounded by 10 tacks and another row of tacks to the left of that at the seam on the drum.
A peek through the vent hole is all it takes for the story of this drum to start coming to life. A painted label on the inside of the drum reads: This drum was made by John Webster of Spencer Town New York State,  August 24th, A.D. 1793 . The 17th year of America’s Independence. Carried in the war of 1812 by John Webster and in the war of 1861 by his son Thomas Webster.”  The shell also has some writing on it that is, for the most part, faded and gone but what is visible is the date of 1793. As someone who is a bit Obsessive Compulsive when it comes to drums it is driving me crazy not knowing what the rest of the words were and what was scratched out on the inside of the drum. 
With that information alone this drum is already a grand slam find for any collector or museum however: there is one additional tag on the drum that just puts the drum into a league by itself. Not only is the maker known on the drum as well as the names of the people that carried it during two separate wars but sometime after the Civil War the drum found its way into the hands of the Tower family in New Haven Connecticut and around 1955, Roy Tower gave this drum to Earl Sturtze! For those of you not familiar with Earl Sturtze then he is worth looking up and reading about. In the fife and drum world, Mr. Sturtze is legendary and has more than 100 group and individual drumming championships to his name and only ads to the pedigree of this small drum. 
I know there are some of you that are thinking the drum should be returned to as close to original condition as possible, I know I pondered that very thought myself but, the Company of Fifers and drummers museum is about preserving the history of Fife & Drum and the fact that this drum was played by Earl Sturtze is just as important as the rest of the history of the drum.  If I am able to find pictures of Earl playing this drum I will include them in a future post.
For more information on the collection or to make a donation to the museum please contact the museum through their website or you can contact me with questions about the drums as well.  

Matt Alling

Friday, July 24, 2015

Pre-Civil War Field Drum

Matt Ailing of CT Pro Percussion is engaged in a massive project cataloging the world-class collection of rope drums and other instruments and uniforms at The Company of Fifers & Drummers in Ivoryton, Connecticut.

Matt recently wrote concerning one of those drums:

Hey guys, I hope the email tittle got your attention. I have finally started working on cataloging all of the drums at the museum at the Company of Fifers and Drummers and I have already come across  my first drum that is raising questions. The drum has no visible makers label but does have a repair label opposite the vent hole. At some point in the future I will be opening the drum up for further photos and research but this is what I have so far. This is drum #9 in their collection and museum notes state that it is a pre-civ war drum and carried by a member of the Davenport Family during the Civil War. There was a repair done in August of 1897 by Henry Hollwedel (drum maker) but I don't have any other info on the repair. Their is also a repair label on the inside from drum maker Howard Reiff in the summer of 1997, exactly 100 years later. Reiff says on the tag that he thinks the drum is late 19th or early 20th century but the museum info and what I see on the drum would conflict that. He also states that he thinks the drum is French because of the European Oak used. The drum is very light and the grain does not look like oak to me so I am inclined to strongly disagree with Mr. Reiff. The iron nails in the drum are something that Brian and I have discussed in the past and don't scream late 19th century to me but more early 19th century or even late 18th.

 The drum is almost square in size at 14" iameter and 13.75" shell height. The shell and hoops appear to be single ply and there is no carry hook or D ring or signs that there ever was one, these are things that would have been common on drums in the late 19th  or early 20th century drums. The drum has 9 rope holes; Mr. Reiff states that this is an indication that it is French as well but I have seen a number of American made rope drums with 9 holes. I am interested on thoughts that either of you might have on this drum.

Matt Alling
CT Pro Percussion
203-228-0488 - Phone
Calfskin, it's the new plastic!!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Civil War Brass Snare Drum

eBay seller johndavidoneill has posted this beauty on eBay with a BIN price under $500 and a photo showing brass drums in use during the Civil War.  Nice find John.

Described as:
  • Ancient - Civil War Rope Tension Drum !!!!
  • American marching Field Drum; drum is in original playing condition. 
  • Drum Shell measures 16" Dia. x 12 " Deep, - Drum's Overall height approximately measures 14 ".
  • Brass Drum Shell has a beautiful patina-ed  aged finish.
  • 16" Diameter Calfskin Drum-Heads and Gut Snares.
  • Maple Hoops with Ten (10) Leather Ears, Twenty (20) rope-hooks - hemp rope.
  • Period correct: Civil War Hinged Snare Strainer.
  • Drum produces a Very Loud, Crisps, Deep, Old -School Low-Toned Rattle.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Ditson Drum Needs Rehab

A reader wrote:


I recently picked up an old rope drum that I planned on restoring. After I got it, I came to realize it was an Oliver Ditson drum. I've never owned a rope drum before, let alone a 95+ years old and possibly collectable rope drum. My original problem was just buying the leather ears for it, but now I'm wondering how I should restore it safely without damaging its appearance or value. I definitely need some advice about what to clean, what to clean with, what to not do, what to look for, etc. To my untrained eye, I'm fairly confident that it was stored well and that all parts will hold up under tension if I changed out the rope and bought some ears. I'm also curious as to how special this drum really is. I've attached as many useful photos as I could. 

I realized after I disassembled it that I never took a picture of the snare tension mechanism. It was a long rod with threads on the end that spanned from the top rim to the bottom rim. There was a key that stood next to the top rim that could be turned to tighten or loosen the snares.

Thank you for any advice.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Notes of a Conversation with Leo Brennan, Sutler

"I've been In F&D for the last 50 years so I can’t help but knowing a bit about fifes and drums." So began Leo Brennan's story of how he came to acquire three Brown drums.

He told me about his first drum, vintage 1837.  It all began last February, 2009 when as a member of Mattatuck Drum Corps he was first to arrive at the corps' clubhouse.

"Some of the drums they play are Brown drums.  There was a card on the door of the loft (clubhouse) one night that said, “If interested in a Brown drum, let me know."  Leo handed it in to the president. He spoke about it at the meeting.

One of the members complained that they had done business with the person who left the card and that he wants too much money, they don’t need the drum

The drum corps passed on the opportunity. Four or five weeks later Leo expressed interest in the drum and took the card

Brennan said that Matthew (Sunny) Lyons, 80ish, is an expert and can still play very well.  He was in the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy at the end of WWII and the Korean War.  Matt and Leo looked at the drum and Matt recommended buying it.   Leo did so and got the history.  The drum had been part of the Alex Smith collection, an apple farmer from Northford, CT.  In 1897 he won the CFDA championship.  He loved Brown drums, and had at least 8 of them.   He would hand rub the drums during the winter to give them a luster (before modern distractions like television).

Leo never met Alex Smith but heard stories. He would insist that visitors who could play do so with him.

Leo made sure to say that the fourth Saturday in August, sponsored by the Westbrook Drum Corps at Exit 65 on I-95, Westbrook, CT, there is a 45 corps muster, a lot of good corps.  A jam session starts on the preceding Friday night

Leo mentioned that there are articles about him and his drums, including his bass drums.

Leo said that he does a lot of research in the library and found a photo of an Eli Brown drum at an antique shop in New Hampshire.

He phoned the auctioneer.  Leo faxed a bid but forgot to sign it

Leo won the drum (was outbid by several hundred dollars but with an unsigned bid).  The drum was owned by Griswold who sent it for repair in 1948 to Hubbard in Massachusetts.  Hubbard put new rims, rope and ears and coat of varnish, removed the snare assembly and did not replace it. That’s how he acquired his second Brown drum.

Then, talking with me, he became aware of the 1809 Brown drum (he had thought the oldest Brown was 1810 - a woman at a muster arrived with a black plastic drum).  I directed Leo to Barry Glick who had the drum for sale.

Leo spoke of Jack Haynes, an electrician, whose aunt owned the drum.  The drum had been in an attic for 40-50 years.  When she passed away, Haynes was the only heir and he acquired the drum.  That’s how Barry Glick came into the picture (a computer guy, middle man).

Leo came to an agreement with the owner. The seller asked for $3,500, Leo rejected it and the seller backed right off

Jack Haynes delivered the drum to Leo who bought it for $3,000.

Leo is now selling his 1837 Brown rum on eBay.  His son is taking care of the eBay transaction.  If it does not sell, he will pull it off eBay for 6 months.  Then he will try to sell his 1829 Brown drum.

Leo said that he has measured more than 100 Brown snare and bass drums.

He mentioned an 1823 Brown drum that he saw at a Nathan Hale Fife and Drum Muster (Homestead).

He has all the data sheets

Leo also noted that Sue Cifaldi has also done a lot of work. They plan to get together and compare notes.

Leo mentioned "American Drums of War 1607-2007", by George Carroll -- $40.0, and "The Browns of Wintonbury, Makers of Brown Drums" -- $12.5.

Leo's drums has have 16”, 17” and 18” diameters.

His 1837 drum is playable (but no snare assembly).


Leo Brennan
Ye Olde Connecticut Peddler

Hi Folks,

I've been in the business of sutlering for over 20 years and have met some of the best people around who have become good friends. 

I attend over 30 events each year and you can always find a good selection of the things you need or want on display. If by chance, you do not see what you want, ask or call me at (203) 245-9543, after 2 pm, Monday through Thursday....Fridays, I'm usually on the way to a weekend event, so when you are at an event, be sure to look for Ye Colonial Sutler's Shop on Sutler's Row.

If you would like, I will gladly send you a list of events I will be attending this season. If you have an event you would like me to attend, send me an invite and/ or call me. If possible, I will include it in my schedule.

Unfortunately, with prices as they are today, it is necessary for me to charge the sum of $3.00 per catalog.

VERY Partial List of Items available:
  • Audio Tapes & CD's
  • Books
  • Clay Pipes
  • Garters
  • Instruments
  • Leather Goods
  • Mugs
  • Rifle and Musket Accessories
  • Stockings
  • Slings, cases, etc... 
Ye Colonial Sutler's Shop
 Leo Brennan, Sutler
c/o 49 Nortontown Rd.
Madison, CT 06443

1823 Pennsylvania Militia Drum

1823 Pennsylvania Militia Drum

This drum appeared on Antiques Roadshow originally aired November 7, 2011 (appraised August 21, 2010 in Washington, DC by Paul Carella.

Antiques Roadshow Appraisal Transcript:

GUEST: It came down through my dad's family. My great-grandfather was from Pittsburgh and was a Scout River, Hudson Bay painter, and I believe this belonged to one of his brothers. 

APPRAISER: And where do you think his brother used it? 

GUEST: I have no idea. 

APPRAISER: Well, it has a date on here up front, and it says November 1, 1823, and that was probably a commemorative date from the founding of the regiment of the militia unit that the original owner of this drum was in. 

GUEST: Oh, okay. 

APPRAISER: And one of the things that the drum does have, if you look in the inside, is you can see the remains of a label in here. If you had the drum cover on it, how would you be able to see the label? 

GUEST: Right. 

APPRAISER: But what's very interesting is right here on the side is a vent hole, so if you peep through there, the label's directly across on the other side. 

GUEST: Oh, how cool! 

APPRAISER: So you'd be able to read it. And it served two purposes: to be able to see who the maker of the drum was, and the fact that it was vital for the resonance. 

GUEST: Oh, okay. 

APPRAISER: But what's equally interesting is the quality of this federal-style eagle. It's beautifully painted, and very vivid colors, and it's fairly early as a militia drum. I would date the drum sometime in the 1840s. 

GUEST: Wow, that's really cool. 

APPRAISER: It's a piece of folk art more than anything else. Have you ever given any thought to what it was worth, or... ? 

GUEST: Well, I took it to a local high school appraisal thing, and they told me about maybe $2,000. 

APPRAISER: $2,000, okay. At auction, I feel that this drum is probably worth between $7,000 and $8,000. 

GUEST: Oh, how nice. 

APPRAISER: Mm-hmm. It's a beautiful piece of Americana. 

GUEST: Cool, thank you! 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Grouping of Three Snare Drums, Two Bugles and Assorted Accouterments

June Firearms Auction Day 2 by Rock Island Auction Company
June 27, 2015, 9:00 AM CST
Rock Island, IL, USA,-two-bugles-and-ass-2139-c-af04c4eabc

Lot 2139: Grouping of Three Snare Drums, Two Bugles and Assorted Accouterments

Estimated Price: $900 - $1,400

Description: Grouping of Three Snare Drums, Two Bugles and Assorted Accouterments Lot of three antique drums, two pairs of drumsticks, drum accouterments and two bugles.

1) Snare drum that measures 14" diameter and 7" high. A tag taped to the drum states that has a label inside for Werner Soistman of Philadelphia, dated 4-15-1865. This label is not visible through the vent hole. The drum has been restored with new ropes and stretchers. The painted floral scroll head bands appear to have original designs and paint. Condition: Fine as restored.

2) Snare drum that measures 16" in diameter and 12 3/4" in height with a brass body and red head bands. Condition: Fine to good with areas of discoloration overall.

3) Snare drum that measures 17 1/2" in diameter and 12 1/2" in height with a walnut body and wood/metal head bands. Condition: Fair needing major restoration.

4) Brass bugle measuring 14 1/4" in length and marked "U.S. REGULATOR/MADE IN U.S.A." with light blue cord wrap around the bottom tubes. Condition: good to very good with an aged patina.

5) Brass and copper bugle measuring 12" in length with small chain attached to mouthpiece.

Condition: Very good with a minor aged patina. Lot includes two sets of drumsticks (one set black, one set walnut) and other drum accouterments. Manufacturer: None

21st Virginia 1905 Reunion Drum

Indian Pottery, Civil War & Firearms by Embassy Auctions International
Kinzers, PA, USA 

Lot 97: 21st Virginia 1905 Reunion Drum

Estimated Price: $250 - $400

Description: Nice 20th C. rendition of a Civil War veteran's drum. The 21st Virginia. Richmond, VA 1905. This old drum has the correct cording and leathers with a pair of early drumsticks. A nice collector's piece.  Dimensions: 14 1/2" T and 15 1/2" Diameter

Civil War Era Drum

Indian Pottery, Civil War & Firearms

by Embassy Auctions International

July 1, 2015, 12:00 PM EST
Kinzers, PA, USA 
Lot 88: Civil War Era Drum
Estimated Price: $300 - $500
Description: Civil War Era drum with 20th Century replication of the 8th Arkansas Regiment. Refers to Shiloh, Perryville, Chickamauga, etc. This is a very old drum that has been elaborately painted for a collector or reenactor.
Dimensions: 19 1/2" T and 15" Diameter

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

War of 1812 Chandler Field Snare Drum (Possibly)

A reader wrote in with photos and information on a drum that might be a Chandler drum from the War of 1812.  Comments, opinion and information are welcome.  Email us at  


Lee Vinson suggested that I write to you for some information on a drum I own that I acquired, probably in the 1970's, from a car dealer (Bob Roughton Pontiac)  and old gun collector here in Hampton Roads [Virginia].  He bought it for me at a gun show somewhere in New England and I paid him around $250 for the drum and his troubles.

Unfortunately the drum has been cut down.  (OUCH!)  I have shown it to Terry Cornett of Heritage Drums in Huntsville, Alabama who was not convinced of its age, he wanted to restore it to playing condition, and to Lance Pedigo of Colonial Williamsburg.  Lance felt the drum was older than anything in their collection and wanted me to let CW display it.

If you feel it may be worthy of your blog please proceed.  I have, for the sake of time, simply forwarded the small e-mail string between Lee and me.  There are some pictures of the drum at the bottom of the string.  I will send a few more pictures in a separate e-mail.  Any information on this instrument would be very much appreciated.  I have given you all the provenance on it that I have at the moment.

John Lindberg
Lecturer of Percussion
College of William & Mary
Virginia Symphony Orchestra (Retired)


-----Original Message-----
From: W. Lee Vinson (
To: JP Lindberg (
Sent: Tue, Jun 16, 2015 2:48 am
Subject: Re: GB Stone xylophone and a Chandler rope drum (More pictures to follow)

Hi John,

A follow up.  I found this post on Ellis' blog.  Looks like it might be the same maker:


Definitely get in touch with him and let me know what else you come up with!

- Lee


On Tue, Jun 16, 2015 at 1:31 AM, W. Lee Vinson ( wrote:

Hi John,

Thanks for writing!

The Stone xylophones are neat little instruments. I've run across a handful of them. They must have been super popular with theater musicians of New England in the 1910s and 20s.

Your rope drum predates most of what I collect. (And I collect some pretty dusty drums!) I'll point you to two other guys who may be able to help:

Ellis Mirsky ( is a lawyer by day and a drum blogger by night. is his baby.  He might be interested in sharing your pics on the blog which could generate some leads if he doesn't have any first-hand knowledge himself.

Brian Hill ( is an avid collector of 18th and 19th century rope drums, especially those with some sort of provenance.  Shoot him an email with pictures and he'll probably have something to say!

Hope this is helpful! Let me know if you uncover any more info on the drum. I'd be interested to know more about it as well. 

- Lee 


On Mon, Jun 15, 2015 at 9:53 PM, JP Lindberg ( wrote:


I own a Stone xylophone as pictured on your blog.  Yours is the only other xylo I have ever seen like it.  You answered a lot of my questions about the instrument.

Also, I have a rope drum, that may date back to the War of 1812.  I'm sending some pictures along in the hope you may able to shed some light on it for me.

I believe this drum was made in the Boston area.

John Lindberg
College of William & Mary
Virginia Symphony Orchestra (retired)


Handwritten markings on the above drum indicate work done on the drum in September and October 1812.  That's pretty compelling information.

I think that the partial label indicates manufacture by Massachusetts Drums, and that “KIN” is either wrong (an incorrect transcription of what is written on the inside of the drum) or part of a longer phrase.
Interestingly, another "Massachusetts Drums" label (different font, different information on label, but the font used to write "Massachusetts Drums" the second time toward the bottom of this label appears to match the font used to write "Massachusetts Drums" toward the top of the label on the Lindberg drum) on another drum from the 21st Maine Volunteer Infantry described in this blog reads:

Massachusetts Drums
Made and Sold by
Chandler & Peabody
Marlborough Street-Salem

Here is a fully intact "Massachusetts Drums" label from a known War of 1812 drum.  So it appears that the two drums (this one and the Lindberg drum) were made a different times (the label below by Chandler & Peabody on Marlborough Street, Salem, Massachusetts).

See also