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!


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
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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!