Friday, May 20, 2011

1833 Eli Brown Drum, No. 712

Mark Sampson, a reader of this blog, sent the below photos to us asking where he might get it appraised. He referred to it as an 1833 "Eli Drum" (possibly referring to Eli Brown).


Mark wrote:


To my knowledge I do not believe there has been any restoration done to this drum. I tried to take a photo through the air hole but it did not work.

"Eli Brown,
Drum Manufacturer,
Then there appears to be a drawing or printing of a Bass Drum
Has Consistently For Sale"

Then in Bold Print

"Bass and Snare Drums
Made in the Neatest and Best Manor
Windsor (Winterbury Soc.) Conn 1833 No. / 712"

The sticker has some boarder around it. The #3 in 1833 is hand written as is the 712.



Diameter = 17 ½ “
Height = 13 ½ “
Circumference = 48 ½”



"There are 13 missing tacks. They seem to be missing at the outer edges of the drum. Very interesting design with diamonds and circle around the vent hole. I do not think it was restored but would appreciate any information. I think it is a real nice piece of Americana and want to make sure it is preserved for the future."


The painting on the drum is unique. I've not seen a painting quite like it.

Whoever did the restoration on this drum appears to have installed the tugs upside-down. And the tugs appear to have been stained to look old (but the inside surfaces and cut edges are clearly new, as is the rope).

A very good craquelure (a network of fine cracks or crackles on the surface of a painting, caused chiefly by shrinkage of paint film or varnish), or wood grain underlying the paint, appears all over the painted surface of the drum.



The vent hole appears to have a bone grommet (although excessively white for real bone) through which a small part of a label appears to be visible (click on the photo to enlarge it and you'll be able to see what looks like part of a printed label). A few tacks near the flesh hoops appear to have been lost or removed.

The tack pattern is clearly like those on known Brown drums of the early 19th century.

Remnants of what appears to be a period snare mechanism can be seen on the bottom hoop near the snare gate. And the presence of a person's thumb (bottom left) suggests that the drum might be smaller than a usual field drum, perhaps closer to a child's toy drum size, but I cannot tell for sure from the photo.




WHAT WE HEAR FROM THE EXPERTS:

Susan Cifaldi wrote:


Obviously this is cut down and parts have been recycled (the leather ears were cut from a large piece that was previously seamed (one ear is "inside-out"), and top hoop looks like it's from an older drum to me).

Looks like someone replaced the grommet (bone doesn't yellow with age as much as ivory does, but it does yellow, and there should be at least some dullness to the white, as you correctly point out) It's curious that there is no shellac over the entire shell, just over the painted part.

It could have been removed at some point in time, but I've seen that on a few Stevens drums, where they shellacked over the artwork only. However, the Browns wouldn't do that since it doesn't look like they offered artwork at the point of sale, what we see on the few extant
decorated drums has been obviously added later.

If the owner knows it is 1833, I'm thinking it is on the label. Can he send us a transcription of it?

Looking at the areas where the tacks are missing, I think the cut-down was done some years ago.

Also, can he tell us anything about provenance? That might help us trace the art work.

I'd like to call it a Brown drum, but let's see what the label says. Maybe the owner can help us out with that.



Susan Cifaldi wrote also:

Thanks, Mark and Ellis! We knew it was cut down, and this is now verified by the number and date you supplied, indicating that this would have been a more or less "square" drum. Lots of these drums were cut down to this size around the time of the Civil War; by that time the big square drums were outdated. 

If there is enough label left, I might urge Mark to take a look to see if it is indeed "Eli Brown" and not "Eli Brown & Son," the reason being it's right on the cusp of when Eli's son was taken in as a partner. . if not, it is still a lovely example of Brown's work. 

The artwork deserves a closer look, in my opinion. Mark, where did you find the drum? Did the former owner give you any information about where (s)he found it? 

Thanks again for posting it, and keep us informed of where it goes if you do sell it. 

2 Comments:

At May 20, 2011 at 6:24 PM , Blogger Susan said...

Thanks, Mark and Ellis! We knew it was cut down, and this is now verified by the number and date you supplied, indicating that this would have been a more or less "square" drum. Lots of these drums were cut down to this size around the time of the Civil War; by that time the big square drums were outdated.

If there is enough label left, I might urge Mark to take a look to see if it is indeed "Eli Brown" and not "Eli Brown & Son," the reason being it's right on the cusp of when Eli's son was taken in as a partner. . if not, it is still a lovely example of Brown's work.

The artwork deserves a closer look, in my opinion. Mark, where did you find the drum? Did the former owner give you any information about where (s)he found it?

Thanks again for posting it, and keep us informed of where it goes if you do sell it.

 
At February 4, 2012 at 6:51 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, I'm not surprised Sue found this drum on the internet. Alot of people think they are cut down, but sometimes when a drum is refitted with new heads they tend to tuck them too long, and the hoops pull down further, and closer to the tack pattern than they were when first put together.

The Nutmegdrumshoppe.

 

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