Sunday, October 26, 2008

Abner D. Stevens Drum

Will Chappell sent these photos of an Abner D. Stevens drum very similar (if not the same drum) to that described in this blog at "1861 Dated Snare Drum by A.D. Stevens":


Will Chappell wrote with this information apparently from an unidentified eBay listing:

Offered is this wonderful Civil War DRUM made by the Pittsfield Drum Factory, Pittsfield, MA as seen in peep hole that reveals maker's label. The label also says established in 1796 Military and Bass Drums, Pittsfield date There is a date at the bottom of the label that appears to be Aug 9 1861. The drum has been passed down from a Powhatan Virginia estate. The original owner was Colonel William Wood Finney a Civil War Confederate Army Officer and a co-founder of the Western Portion of the Pony Express. He was my great great grandfather. I took a picture of a framed photo I have of him as well as one of his wife Constance to help in your research.

He served with the 59th Virginia Infantry and the 26th Virginia Infantry Battalion. He served under Stonewall Jackson at Harper's Ferry and participated in the battle of Lewisberg where he was taken prisoner. Although he has been admired by collectors of Civil War ephemera as well as Pony Express enthusiasts, he was not as well favored by family. He was known as a bit of a chauvenist coming home from his escapedes only to father yet another child. He fathered eight that I know of. The winning bidder will be given a copy of his lineage as well as a scan of an original picture I have of him. I'll also include a copy of a photo of his estate named Elioch which has now sadly fallen to ruin.

This is one of two drums from his estate. The other is fully marked but since I will be passing it on to my son I can only offer to include photo's of it next to this one if you'd like. I don't know if he used the drum in the war or not.

The drum features the two original red painted bands, Top and bottom drum heads and a rolled twine shoulder strap. The drum heads are very old and warped the top has stains and what appears to be a small cigarette burn hole. The bottom head is stained as well although much less and there is one rope from the snare that is detatched at one end. The drum cylinder is is in excellent well cared for condition as are .The Height is 14 1/2 inches and the diameter is 16 1/2 inches.

Eagle Drum


Will Chappell wrote with this information apparently from an unidentified eBay listing:

This great drum was brought to me a couple of days ago by a local picker & claimed he found it in a local attic. He was told by the family that it was used in the civil war. I'm no expert on military or civil war items, so I really don't know when it was used. I do know good paint & this paint is great with no touch ups. Measure 15 1/2" H x 16 1'2" dia. I do know your supposed to see a lable through the hole in the side but I see none. As you can see the heads are not in great shape. Good luck, NO PAYPAL

1st Virginia, Company A



Will Chappell wrote recently with the following information apparently from eBay listing 190182995519:

100% original – this was a museum piece!
Still has museum tag and Virginia markings inside drum.

Auction includes Veteran’s affairs paperwork/archive record on drum.

Drum measures 16 inches across and approx 20 inches high.
Has several tack designs as well as "company A 1st Virginia" painted on drum with motif (also with tack design).

Drum is ID’ed to Fredrick Ashburn.
His name is written in period ink on the bottom skin of drum.
Drum is in need of new top skin, but do not remove bottom skin!! (his name is on it!)

You can still see remnants of cotton seed inside of the roping.

A true confederate drum.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Another Kilborn Drum (Albany)

All of a sudden we have a small collection of Kilborn (Kilbourn?) drums. In the preceding article (1864 Tacked Bass Drum) we discuss a possible Kilborn bass drum (based on the tack pattern). And, in May, 2008 we discussed an identified Kilborn (by the label) at Mexican War/Civil War Maple Snare Drum with Tacks. And here we have yet another identified Kilborn.


eBay item no. 140267438258 described by seller jamesdjulia( 1888) as follows:

CIVIL WAR ERA AMERICAN MILITARY DRUM. ... [A] nice 19th century painted military snare drum. This drum measures 16" across x 13" tall. The painted device is approximately 9" round and depicts an American eagle with patriotic shield with 13 stars. Maker's label inside drum reads, "William Kilborn, successor to George Kilborn, 7 Clinton Ave., Albany, New York." According to old article that accompanies drum, William Kilburn's shop was in business between 1864 to 1869. The article goes on to state that the eagle and shield marked it as a National Guard drum from the Civil War period. The iron patented tightening clips are not typical of the Civil War but we believe were patented in 1864. Regardless this is a nice piece of American folkart. CONDITION: Drum is very good overall, as ropes and tighteners are replaced, as are heads and top head has 3" tear. Red painted hoops have lost a majority of their paint. Maple body of drum has numerous scuffs, scrapes and scratches including scrapes and paint reduction to eagle device as can be seen in photographs. 4-35217 JS37 (2,000-4,000)

1864 Tacked Bass Drum





Question: What has a painted 5-pointed star (painted-over, or varnished long ago but still barely shining through) around its bone-grommet vent hole, an 1864 handwritten label and a wonderful tack pattern, reminiscent of George Kilbourn (Albany, NY)?


Compare the Tack Pattern with that of a Known Kilbourn Drum:
The tack pattern on the drum pictured below which bears a label reading "George Kilbourn, Albany" is strikingly similar to that on the 1864 bass drum discussed in this article.



The Bass Drum:
A handwritten label inside the drum clearly bears the date May 24, 1864. And, partly legible from the photograph of the label is part of a word which appears to end in "burg" or "bury". Also, possibly the name "Smith", and possibly the word "Drum" followed by the word "Maker". (Tip: tap the CTLR and + keys on your keyboard at the same time, a number of times, to expand the image for better legibility.)


The counterhoops were painted while still on the drum, resulting in slight overpainting of the heads and ropes.


And the tacks, as well as what appears to be a small white (or light-colored) painted star, were overpainted (or varnished, which has discolored) at some point. (See also, "The Star Drums of the 12th Corps of the Army of the Potomac", this blog.) Also, note the partially overpainted (or varnished) bone grommet in the vent hole, as well as the substantial craquelure on the drum's surface -- characteristic cracking patterns determined by age, climatic conditions, shrinkage and the materials used.


These photos (above and below) provide a nice detail of what appears to be original twisted rope.


The earlier bidding for eBay item no. 110294568548 offered by seller bleeding_gums( 16971) indicates that this piece has attracted the attention of a number of field drum cognoscenti, with known collectors j***j( 450), a***a( 105), as well as myself weighing in at the start.

The seller wrote:
Wow! This auction is for an absolutely amazing and extremely rare antique Civil War drum. It was actually used by a Civil War marching band and was in storage since the 1800s up in an Illinois house attic. The drum is a very rare, and very large Bass size measuring about 30½" wide and 23" tall. It is made of wood and leather and has what appear to be the original coverings on each end. On the side of the drum there is a Civil War style eagle painted in yellow (might have been white originally) and someone wrote 1864 in the center. I saw a photo in this estate of a boy holding the drum in a Civil War anniversary ceremony in the 1880s, so they apparently took it out once in a while and used it. The family had a history of being in the war and many artifacts from that time. The drum has the original maker's label inside, which is hand written and mostly washed away, but I can see that it says 1864 and even give the month and day. It is guaranteed old and original to the Civil War. It is very well made and in great condition with some broken areas of rope and some damage to the drumming surface, but to find these large Bass drums in any condition is really a miracle! Amazing piece!