Thursday, November 26, 2015

Yellow & Red Liberty Snare Marching Drum Unknown Vintage Military?

Yellow & Red Liberty Snare Marching Drum Unknown Vintage Military?

This came out of a military collection, but we're not 100% sure it's military issued.

This is an old drum. We're not sure how old it is, but our research indicates it may be manufactured by the liberty musical instrument company circa 1926.

Top rim is half off of the drum. It might have been reskinned at one time. should be able to be re-set. Ropes are unknown age. Might be original, but we're not sure. Leather pieces look original.

Paint shows its age with cracking and chipping But appears original.

Bottom skin and snares look and feel original.

Drum measures approx. 15'' across by 12'' tall.

CFD - A Civil War Surprise

Note from Matt Alling, Author: I know that it has been several weeks since my last post but I  couldn’t decide which drum to write about next.  The problem with a drummer/drum historian cataloging an entire museum's drum collection, and writing about it while doing so, is that every drum is potentially the next story.

I have been debating for weeks about which of several drums to write about and it came down to which drum revealed the most complete story first.  This drum was the winner and I hope is one that will encourage many of you to make the trip to the Museum of Fifers and Drummers in Ivoryton, Connecticut to see the collection in person.


CFD - A Civil War Surprise
by Matt Alling
CT Pro Percussion
203-228-0488 - Phone
MFD Drum #14 (Company collection number, not label number) had been listed simply as “Brown Drum” with no additional information other than it had been played by "Alex Smith".  The drum measures 16.5” x 14.5” and is actually a B.E.&M. Brown drum dated 1822, Bloomfield Connecticut.  The drum has a nice early Brown tack pattern on it that I have seen previously on several B.E.&M. Brown Drums.
On taking the drum down from the shelf for inspection and cataloging I found a list of names signed on the top head of the drum:
Bert Cahl
Mary Wilke
Zack Lemoor (?)
Walter H. Greaszy (?)
And about 6 other names that I can’t decipher. 
Flipping the drum over, there is writing all over the bottom head and a tremendous history and some writing that I never expected.  Right near the snare bed the following writing appears:

William K. Bunnell
Co. B. 27 Reg C.V.
Aug. 23 – 1862 (?) July 27  1863
Research revealed a roster for the 27th Regiment, an infantry division based out of New Haven Connecticut. William Bunnell was a private in the regiment and the regiment appears to have been active for only 9 months.

I should note that while William Bunnell is listed as a private, he  is not listed as one of the musicians.  The one issue I have with the information that I found on the drum is that on military archive and genealogy sites the unit is listed as being formed in October 1862, but the writing on the drum indicates August.
Service includes defense of Washington D.C. until November 1862, advance to Falmouth, Virginia, November 7-19, Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia, December 12-15, “Mud March” January 20-24,  1863, at Falmouth Until April 27th, Chancellorsville Campaign April 27- May 6, Battle of Chancellorsville May 1-5, Gettysburg Pennsylvania, Campaign June 11- July 24, Battle of Gettysburg July 1-3 and mustered out on July 27, 1863. During this time the regiment lost 4 officers and 42 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded in combat, and 22 men lost to disease.

In addition to that information, there is a lot of additional writing on the bottom head that helps add to the provenance of the drum, including a history of the drum with the Bunnell family and beyond:
“This drum was used by Russell Bunnell of Seymour and later New Haven Conn. Also used by his son Frank S. Bunnell of New Haven Conn. Used by Bunnell Drum Corps Later and by Louis Bunnell of Oneita NY.”
Eventually the drum ended up in the hands of Alex Smith who played with Chester Drum Corps and was then sold, as noted on the bottom of the drum:

“This drum was bought from the collection of Alex Smith of North Haven, Conn. 1958 by Bruce Shepard West Haven, Conn.”

The drum is now on permanent loan by Bruce Shepard to the museum, where it will continue to be displayed for as long as the museum exists.  To say that I was surprised to find this information right on the head and no information in the archives would be an understatement.  The drum will be taking its place as a true centerpiece in the collection going forward.

Note: For more information about this and all of the drums in the collection, please visit or contact the Museum of the Company of Fifers and Drummers.  Please remember to support the museum and make a donation when you visit or through the site by becoming a member of the company.

See the Museum's website.

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

Medieval Field Drums - Request for Comments

A reader emailed the below.  If you can add anything to this conversation, please email us at


Dear Field

My name is Harry and I'm a medieval reenactor in England. My period of interest is the 12th Century in England and Britain as a whole and, although I'm aware that our periods of interest don't overlap much, I have come across an image recently that piqued my interest and I'm hoping that you might be able to help me in my enquiries.

Please find attached fol 9v from the Morgan Bible, a 13th century bible currently in the Morgan collection.

As you can see in the lower right panel of the manuscript, two of the infantry depicted are carrying what appear to be frame drums.

I've done a little bit of reading into the subject and it would appear that when western knights went on crusade, they encountered Saracen armies that used Timpani to scare their horses. They then brought these drums back with them and used them during warfare, presumably for coordinating their infantry. However, the drums depicted in this panel from the Morgan Bible don't look much like Timpani to me, they look more like Tabor, the ancestor of the modern snare drum.

Basically, I was wondering if you had any knowledge or ideas either related to my search for information or where to continue looking.


P.s. the colour of the drum shells matching the colour of the drummer's helmet looks to me to be a very early version of regimental markings on drum shells, which is *so cool*.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Civil War Period Snare Drum & Drum Sticks

Civil War Period Snare Drum & Drum Sticks. Measures 11" high with a 14" diameter, maple shell and loops. Excellent hide heads and snares. Interior label reads "Made by White Brothers 86 Tremont Street Boston."  Four leather tighteners are present. Matching pair of rosewood drum sticks which measure 14 7/8".

Estimate: $700 - up.

Heritage Auctions, Lot 47418, Dec. 12, 2015.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Spirit of '76 Figure

Spirit of '76 Figure

Polychromed white metal mounted on a drum base figure 35" high, overall 42" high late 19th century CONDITION REPORT: original surface with some flaking rubs and blistering, paint approximately 90%.

Fairfield Auction

Name :  November 2015 Last Chance Auction
Auctioneer :  Fairfield Auction, LLC
Type :  Online-Only Auction
Date(s) :  11/18/2015 - 11/22/2015

November 18th to November 22nd Items will begin closing at 5 pm on November 22nd
Preview Date/Time :  Call to preview in person.
Checkout Date/Time :  Payment and pick-up will be November 18th - 22th, 11 am to 4 pm.
Location :  707 Main Street
Monroe, CT 06468
Buyer Premium :  20% Buyer's Premium
Description : 
Last Chance Auction! November 18th to 22nd

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Really Old School Drum Corps History

A Drum Corps History Podcast by Ron Allard, originally published Dec. 5, 2011.

"The roots of the drum corps activity in North America can be traced back to before the American Revolution."

Episode 12: Old School
Links to material used in this episode:

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

William Kilbourn Drum - Label Question

Sam Cathey, a reader of this blog, writes with the following question: "I have an original Kilbourn drum with this label inside.  Generally I see a different Kilbourn label that includes a Clinton Avenue address.  Does anyone know the dates connected with the labels?"

Partial Answer: He was located at 147 Clinton Avenue, Albany, NY from 1858-1863. (Directory of American Military Goods Dealers & Makers 1785-1915).  See

The Albany City Directory for the year 1877, p. 275, lists William Kilbourn, drum manufacturer at 915 Broadway.

William Kilbourn is listed as age 37, a farmer and drum manufacturer in Albany. Gazetteer and Business Directory of Albany and Schenectady Co., N.Y., for 1870-71, p. 296.  (No address given.)  That would put his date of birth at ca. 1833.

Also see:


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

"Chicks with Sticks" - Mission Impossible Warmup

Mission Impossible warmup with variations
"Chicks with Sticks" warmup

Shown in the video L-R are: Gisèle ("Gis Montreal") Cadieux - '82 Crossmen; Mary Gromko Murray - '78, '79, '80 27th Lancers, '81, '82 Freelancers; Peggy Sue Snyder Casey - '81, '82 Phantom Regiment; and Kelley Marie Kubitz - '81, '82 Blue Devils.

Posted to Facebook by Scott Kubitz on Monday, October 12, 2015

From Facebook

Here are some veteran drum corps women, known as "Chicks with Sticks" gathered for a rehearsal that lead to a reunion performance.

The video was taken while the ladies were getting ready to compete at the 2011 DCA Individuals & Ensembles competition in Rochester, NY.  These four pioneers were among the first women to march snare in a top 12 DCI corps.

See more fun, inspiring drumming videos from over 100 countries around the world at
 — with Chicks with Sticks.

Old Guard in the News (The Lamar Times, Thu., Oct. 8, 2015, vol. 22, no. 2)

From The Lamar Times, Thu., Oct. 8, 2015, vol. 22, no. 2, pp. 1 and 5.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

No Drummers, No Direction - A Historical Overview of Military Drums & Drumming

No Drummers, No Direction - A Historical Overview of Military Drums & Drumming

September 23, 2015 to January 31, 2016

Rhythm! Discovery Center

110 W. Washington St., Ste. A, Indianapolis, IN 46204
Event Phone: 317-275-9030

This exhibit explores the role of a drummer in American military bands. We'll examine each period in US history through instruments, uniforms, and other artifacts. In addition, you can experience the music used in the 19th Century military bands and how the music compares to our modern military music and today's marching percussion section. The exhibit comes to life through an in-depth interactive media display featuring photos, video, audio and much more.

Artifacts on display includes an authentic Avery Brown Civil War-era marching snare with drumsticks, photographs, and an enrollment document dated August 18, 1861; WWII marching snare drums; and turn-of-the-century drums and fifes, and replicas from the Revolutionary War and Civil War.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

CFD - In the Beginning - A Look Through the Vent Hole of Frank Fancher's Competition Field Drum

In the Beginning - A Look Through the Vent Hole of Frank Fancher's Competition Field Drum

by Matt Alling
CT Pro Percussion

There is always a starting point for every project or idea, that one thing that sets the ball in  motion and eventually leads to that idea becoming a reality and then growing from there.  For the Company of Fifers & Drummers Museum, this drum is that piece.  In my opinion, this is the most important drum in the museum because it was the drum that got the ball rolling.  In 1976, this was the first artifact purchased by the Company.  The photograph in the museum’s archives taped to a piece of paper says only “How it all began” but it speaks volumes.  It was this drum that eventually lead to the opening of the museum a decade later. 
This is a 16" x 16" drum with natural maple shell and hoops.  The drum has an ivory vent hole grommet surrounded by a star tack design with 17 tacks in it.  There are 8 tack diamonds on the top and bottom of the star with half diamonds to either side connecting them to the flanking rows of tacks, each containing 13 tacks.  The rope is hemp and there are 10 rectangular, riveted leather ears held on by hooks.  The top and bottom heads are calf with gut snares.  There is a badge on the hoops the reads "Odell M. Chapman, the builder of quality drums, Willimantic, Conn, U.S.A."  The badge on the inside indicates that it is Drum #625 and was built in 1918.

This drum is one of many that, after just a quick glance. have surprised me because of the lack of information known about the drum.  In the museum's master list of information, this drum is listed simply as an Odell Chapman drum.  Looking through the drum’s vent hole I was astounded by the information displayed inside the shell.  In the center, there is the Odell Chapman label in pristine condition, to the immediate right is a Label from Cooperman Drum Company indicating refinishing in 1992 (date in pencil) by Ken Lemley, a name well-known within the fife and drum community.  The shocker for me however was the picture to the left of the label and the caption under it.

The picture is of a man in a colonial uniform with a drum next to him on a step and he is surrounded by a bunch of trophies.  The writing on the original photograph reads:

182 1st Prize cups and medals
Frank Fancher, Wizard of the Drum
World’s Champion Rudimental Drummer

The caption below the picture reads:

This Snare Drum made by Odell M. Chapman, year of 1918 and used by Frank S. Fancher, World’s Champion Drummer and Chief Musician of Odell M. Champman’s Continental Drum Corps of Willimantic Connecticut.  Mr. Fancher won 186 first prizes for individual snare drumming on this drum during his association with the Chapman Corps.

                  For those of you not familiar with Frank Fancher, he was the first true rock star (for lack of a better term) of rudimental drumming.  In his life Frank won more than 200 1st place prizes for solo snare drum competitions and that number does not include championships won with the corps with which he marched.  Let that sink in for a moment and ask yourself what other drummer can match that number?  Frank regularly competed against other rudimental drumming royalty such as J. Burns Moore, Earl Sturtze, Dan English, Sanford “Gus” Moeller, and many others.

                  Frank was the very first endorsor for the Ludwig drum company in the early 1920s and was later wooed away by Slingerland and was given his own signature model snare drum that was produced for only two years.  Francher model Slingerland drums come up for auction every so often, are highly sought, and usually fetch very good prices.  They are signature snares.  I can imagine that there will interest by vintage drum buffs who learn that this drum actually exists and was Fancher’s personal drum used for competition.  I’m hoping that a few of them would like to come check it out in person.

I have seen the picture on the inside of the drum many times, as it has been used by Ludwig and Slingerland drum companies when providing information about Frank Francher.  This very drum is the drum in the picture affixed to the inside of the shell after Francher’s tenure with the Chapman Corps.  As a lover of rope drums, it is a drum that I have looked at in the picture many times and wondered to myself “What ever happened to that drum?”  So realizing that I was holding that very drum in my hands was a special moment for me on a personal level.  The drum is one of my favorite pieces in the museum’s collection.

The Fancher drum and all of the other drums and many others are on display at the Company of Fifers and Drummers Museum so come out to see this extraordinary collection of very special drums, fifes, uniforms and related fife and drum corps artifacts.  Until then, keep watching here to see what other treasures I uncover as I take my next look through the vent hole.

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

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!