Saturday, September 6, 2008

Probable Abner Stevens Shell (1820) But Nothing Else


Sold recently on eBay (item no. 200243436864) to r***n( 99) for $450 by kenfarmerauctions( 910) and described as follows:

Civil War Era Wooden Drum
Circa 1820. Wooden drum made in Pittsfield, Mass. Family history relates Elijah Ogle, b.1833, Carroll Co., Virginia, carried the drum with the 63rd Confederate Infantry. He was in battles in Murfreesboro, TN; Franklin, TN; Shiloh; Saltville, VA; Marion, VA. Restrung. Replaced heads. Wood has a good dry surface. 15 7/8" x 16 1/2".


This drum shouts out "Abner Stevens" by its date and location of manufacture and its signature tack pattern. The heads and ears are obviously replaced and the rope is probably replaced as well. Even the counterhoops look too good to have seen much service, but the shell looks original.

The absence of snares and a snare mechanism is consistent with drums of early 19th century manufacture as the snares were often "pressed" into place and tightened with the heads, requiring only a leather butt plate (which appears to be partially visible in one of the photos) at the butt end to prevent the snare from pulling through that edge of the bottom counterhoop as they would have been pulled tight during head tightening.

The military carry (the metal attachment to the upper counterhoop to which is inexplicably tied the drag line -- not correct), however, is an anacrhonism and should be removed. It looks as if the counterhoops, including the military carry, were salvaged from a 1940s Ludwig or something similar and used on this drum. Thus, the only thing that I think is original about this drum is the shell. Neverthless, a good buy by an astute drum collector. Congratulations to r***n for making the purchase.

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