Sunday, December 28, 2008

Bordentown Military Institute Drum


A blogger on the Not So Modern Drummer website wrote about the drum pictured above:

The photos show a very old military drum, which I think NSMD displayed in an issue from about ten years ago. The diameter is 15 3/8" and the height is 5" (not including the 1.25" wooden hoops). The bottom calf head (torn) reads, “Bordertown Military Institute, B.M.I., New Jersey.” The snares are not metal - they are a varnished rope. The drum is in excellent condition.

Bordertown or Bordentown?
Founded in 1881, the Bordentown Military Institute operated as an independent military school in Bordentown, New Jersey, for 91 years. In 1972, it merged with the Lenox School in Lenox, Massachusetts. Bordentown/Lenox was in existence for only one year, however, closing its doors completely in June 1973.

How Old is the BMI Drum?
Compare the Union Shield on the BMI drum with that on this known 1915 drum:


The BMI drum's union shield appears to be of an earlier time. That union shield is of a similar shape to many painted union shields appearing on Civil War and earlier drums. However, the single claw, single tension (where turning the rod tightens/loosens both heads simultaneously) turnbuckle rod design of the BMI drum suggests that the date of manufacture was closer to 1900 or later. See, e.g., this drum from approximately 1900 in the collection of the National Music Museum:


NMM 13539. Snare drum by Charles Stromberg for Thompson & Odell Music Co., Boston, ca. 1892-1904. The Artist Drum. Board of Trustees, 2007.National Music Museum.

The BMI drum appears to be of a more modern rod tension design. My guess is that the drum dates from the early 1900's, approximately 1910 (later than the Charles Stromberg drum and earlier than the WWI drum).

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