Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Are Drummers Smarter?

Karen Hopkins, podcaster for Scientific American, posted this story today on SciAm's website:

"Podcast Transcript: Mozart was a genius. Duke Ellington, genius. Ringo Starr? Well, Ringo may be smarter than you think. Because a new study from Stockholm shows that people who can keep a beat score the highest on intelligence tests. The researchers asked 34 men to listen to a recording and then tap out the beat using a single drumstick. When the music stopped, the guys kept drumming, and they were scored by how closely they were able to maintain the original rhythm.

"After their drum solos, the subjects traded their sticks for pencils and took a standardized intelligence test. The guys who had the steadiest rhythm also nailed the written exam.

"What that means is hard to say. All of our actions, whether we’re making music or solving equations, are governed by the rhythmic activity of nerve cells in the brain. So the scientists think that a keen sense of timing and a penchant for problem solving might come from having well coordinated brain cell activity. While sloppy drumming and sloppy thinking come from brain cells that are slightly out of synch. As for Ringo [lyric: “you know it don’t come easy”]."


Listen to the podcast.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Eagle Drum (188th Regt., Co. E) in Rough Shape Hits eBay Market and Draws Immediate Attention from Knowledgeable Collectors

An opportunity for some Civil War researchers to tell us where this drum came from. Its regiment and company are painted on the eagle's banner, but which state?

As to the drum, Timothy Cohen commented that its tack pattern looks like the drum could be a cut-down (height is only 10-1/2"; a comparable Vogt drum is 16" in height) Ernest Vogt drum (two Vogt drums are pictured below but unfortunately the only photos we have of a Vogt drum are of the pattern Eagle emblazonment and that does match; we'll work on getting some photos of a Vogt drum's tack pattern).

eBay item #350050814609 (seller: harcoll 3261) appeared today:


Compare this drum at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City) attributed to Vogt (ca. 1860, Philadelphia):


And Compare this 1864 Vogt drum in the collection of Civil War Fife and Drum:

16x16-1/2. Label: "“Ernest Vogt, manufacturer of Drums, Banjos, Tambourines, &c. No. 225 Beaver Street, Philadelphia, Contract, December 29, 1864."

Back to the drum on eBay:


188, 18E or 18e? (click the image to enlarge): I think it's "188" as in 188th Regiment (and there were two or more). Live inspection might resolve that issue.


Company G:


What does the interior tell us? The drum may be one-ply. The "blank" from which the shell was made can be seen to have its grain running circumferentially around the drum. The interior reinforcing hoops look thick and strong.


Seller describes the drum as follows:

"... attic fresh, ... found in an attic in Northern Michigan, the only story with it is it belonged to a regiment based in Detroit [unverified], (note the painted marks "18E" and "G") [might be "188" rather than "18e"].

"This drum measures 10-1/2" tall and the hoops are 16-3/4" across. The ropes appear to be original, but the skins are missing. Nothing has been cleaned, this still had original dust and cobwebs. Would benefit immensely from slight cleaning or restoration. Appears to have some soot or lamp black applied, darkening the blue background, but traces of the original blue still show through in spots.

"[Seller denies doing anything to the drum which] still has original layer of attic dust.... Has some whitish spots of light oxidation that would likely brush right off. Someone put two drywall screws through the lower rim to hold it in place."

Vogt Drum Referred to in Comment (below) by TCohen:

Ernest Vogt (attrib.)
Philadelphia, c. 1860
Bentwood with original paint
Height 15.75 inches, diameter 16.75 inches

(now owned by Guy Schum)

"This side drum from the 1860s bears a stenciled eagle design that was typical of the thousands of instruments produced for use by the Union Army during the Civil War. The eagle is painted on a blue field, which means it was used in the infantry, and a banner held in the eagle's beak bears the words REG: U.S. INFANTRY.

"This instrument is a rope-tension drum. Players adjust leather tugs, or "ears," to change the tension on the ropes that zigzag back and forth across the shell around the drum. The tension on the ropes changes the pitch of the skin drumhead.
"To the right of the eagle painting is a tack design. Brass tacks were used to reinforce glued shells, and the tack designs became decorative elements for drum makers and also served as a kind of maker's mark. The tack design on this drum consists of a circle around the vent hole; above and below the circle are arrows pointing toward the rims. These geometric figures are framed by two parallel rows of tacks that are parallel with the shell seam. This design is the same one used by the prolific drum manufacturer Ernest Vogt, in Philadelphia, and allows attribution to his workshop."

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Increase Blake Bass Drum

[Ed. Note: A piece of the past, found on the Internet and saved here for easier reference in the future. No original content. I believe that the name "SNOREANCE BLAKE" listed with the drum should have been "INCREASE BLAKE".]


CIVIL WAR ERA BASE DRUM. Small size drum, 24" dia. x 13-3/16” wide, wooden bodied with brass and iron tacks. The wood rims are 1-13/16" wide in their old red paint and have their orig. ropes with leather tighteners. The inside of the drum is marked in old ink writing "SNOREANCE BLAKE/DRUM MAKER/FARMINGTON FALLS/ME". CONDITION: The heads are fine. The body is stained and soiled but intact retaining most of an old revarnish. The rims are fine and retain 75-80% orig. red paint. A fine Civil War era drum. 4-45391 JL374 (1,000-1,500)

James D. Julia, Inc.
Important Firearms Auction
March 11 & 12, 2002
Session 2--Lots 500 through 947
Commencing March 12th, 10:00 am at Yoken's Convention Center, Portsmouth, NH

Painted "Eisele-like" Rod Drum May Have Been Converted from Rope

[Ed. Note: A piece of the past, found on the Internet and saved here for easier reference in the future. No original content other than this comment: The stenciled counterhoops on this drum bear the unmistakable impressions of hooks through which rope passed in this drum's earlier form. The ungainly overlength rods are most certainly "after market" additions. The extra length of the threaded rods is unsightly and even dangerous, especially to the drummer whose thigh could easily come into contact with them. And, the overlength rods are inconsistent with the special care taken in painting/decaling the drum if original. The center star appears to be painted, not inlaid. And, the rods, the painted star and the scroll work could have been added many years after the original manufacture to dress up an otherwise very ordinary brown wood drum.]


INLAID PAINTED MARCHING DRUM POSSIBLY CIVIL WAR ERA. This great mahogany drum, believed to be from the Civil War era and features mahogany shell and mahogany rims [Ed. Note: might be referring to the flesh hoops, a piece of which can be seen at the split in the rolled skin head]. It also has paint decorated [Ed. Note: stenciled] hoops made with ash and what appears to be a free-hand paint decoration on the shell together with what appears to be bone or ivory insert on the vent hole. A very similar drum acquired from the same source has a maker's label on the inside (this specific drum does not have the maker's label but is obviously made by the same maker). The label on the other drum reads "Henry Eisele, Successor to William Sempe Manufacturers of the Bass and Snare Drums 209 & 211 Grand Street, New York N.B. Drum heads, Sticks, Cords, and etc. Constantly on Hand". SIZE: 17" dia. x 11" h. CONDITION: The skin on one side is split, the other side of the drum appears to be good. The leather fibers that go across the surface of the drum are frayed and the drum is somewhat soiled and shows handling marks, but it is generally in good structural condition. 8-86955 (1,500-2,500)

James D. Julia, Inc.
Important Firearms Auction
March 11 & 12, 2002
Session 2--Lots 500 through 947
Commencing March 12th, 10:00 am at Yoken's Convention Center, Portsmouth, NH

Friday, April 18, 2008

Canada's Brass Drums

[Ed. Note: These photos and information contributed by Richard Allen.]

CEF Bugle Band in Toronto WW I
(Canadian Expeditionary Force)

Note the large Tenor drum in the second row. Snare drums were made of brass, tenor and bass drums were wood. Most of the drums had the Royal pattern hoops of red and blue with a white "worm" but some regiments used their regimental colours. E.g., in the "QUEENS OWN RIFLES", drum hoops were black and red with a green worm.



The Bugle Band in 1915 at West Sandling Camp, England


Comparison of Unknown Drum with 1863 John Haynes Drum


eBay (#220218079769) described this drum as: "This antique Civil War snare drum with original drumsticks is fresh from a Rhode Island estate. The drum is in a very good state of preservation and retains one very old or original skin. One of the skins and most of the heart shaped leather tugs that hold the rope in place were replaced sometime probably in the 1960's, however, three original leather tugs are still intact .... The drum measures 10 inches wide by 16 1/4 inches in diameter. The seam of the drum is held together with copper nails. There is writing in pencil on the inside of the drum that can be seen through the vent hole (I have not had the drum apart) the name "HENRY R. PACKARD" is printed as well as the date "JULY 30th 1863". Henry R. Packard was a drummer in Company E of the 12th Regiment of the Massachusetts Infantry. There may be more writing inside the drum, however, the view from the vent hole is limited. This drum retains its original black paint on the hoops and the original finish on the shell. The drum also retains its original brass hardware. The drum comes with i[t]s orignal Civil War era hand made drumsticks. Each stick measures approx 17 inches long and is in extremely good condition. Overall this 145 yar old drum is in very good condition! ****













Comparison with a Haynes Drum (ca. 1863):
The drum described and shown in 1863Haynes.pdf is in the blogmaster's collection. In addition to some photos, a partial large label is transcribed and a certification by Jack Lawton is provided. Also, an article by Pat Parker about Jack Lawton, "one of a handful of people around the world who restore, repair, and make reproductions of vintage drums" from "Susquehana Life", together with a brochure from Jack Lawton is in the materials.: 1863Haynes.pdf

Also see this drum (eBay #190211838976) of unknown origin:



Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Drums with Inlaid Stars

Inlaid designs in drums have always interested me. Wm. S. Tompkins working from his shop in Yonkers, New York produced some beautiful star-burst patterns, as discussed in an earlier posting to this blog: Tompkins 1860-1863 Masterpiece Drums -- Where Are They Now?


1860 Tm. J. HELLRIGLE PRESENTATION DRUM
"National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota. NMM 10,141. Side drum by W. S. Tompkins, Yonkers, New York, 1860. Handwritten inside shell: Wm S. Tompkins / Maker / Yonkers NY / July 31 1860 / No 2190. William F. Ludwig II Collection, 2002."

Soistmann (Philadelphia), Sempf (New York) and others inlaid star patterns around vent holes:

1863 9-point (vertical alignment) Inlaid Star Drum
(eBay #280154132916)
Maker Unknown

"[Attributed to] Company E [which] saw action at Olustee, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, Fort Fisher and many other minor battles over the next two years. Spell was mustered out of service on September 1, 1865. 'Wm H. Spell' is written in brown ink on the batter head. Atlanta Auction Company, Inc., Lawrenceville, GA"

[Ed. Note: When I inquired about the above drum at Atlanta Auction Company, Inc. last week (April 11, 2008), I was told that no information could be disclosed about the drum! I had reached a researcher's dead end.]

And this drum in the collection of Ellis Mirsky:
10-point Inlaid (vertical alignment) Star Drum
(interior label reads "W. Soistmann"
probably referring to Werner Soistman)

More 10-Point (vertical alignment) Inlaid Star Drums:

Described by Civil War Antique Shop as: "Civil War Era Wood Snare Drum - Natural wood body snare drum, 17" in diameter by 13 1/2" high having natural wood hoops drilled for rope tensioners with a ten pointed star inlay around the vent hole typical of Drum Maker William Sempf of New York. Marked inside on hoop as being played by William H. Carlisle. Tag & information purchased with drum identify it to William Carlisle age 24 Co. F. 113 Pa Vol Leeburg, Va. also to Howard Carlisle, age 10, 1896. Copies of William Carlisle service records are included. This information was included when restored by Jack Gurney. Drum is in excellent condition being completely restored, included are 16" oak reproduction drum sticks for display. - Price is $ 1250.00 plus shipping and insurance. Item HG-8"


And, from the same collection, another 10-pointer, but slightly different:

"Restored 19th Century Drum - Maker label inside drum of Henry Eisele of New York, drum is a natural wood 'maple' body having original hoops with rope tensioner hooks, the size is 17" in diameter by 14". The vent hole is surrounded by an 10 pointed inlay star. The drum is identified to be played by Bartholomew M. Lynch, Co. C. 203 Regiment Pa Volunteers with period inscriptions inside shell, one dates to Waverly, Pa 1875, copies of service records are included. He is listed as a Musician and seems to have played a part on the assault & capture of Fort Fisher January 15, 1865, this does not confirm the drum was there. Drum has a complete restoration with leathers & rope being replaced, bottom head looks period as well as the strainer, included are 16" reproduction drum sticks for display. - Price is $ 1250.00 plus shipping and insurance. Item - HG-17"

And, talk about putting your pants on backwards: This drum has been taken apart and reassembled but the bottom counter hoop is about 180 degrees off position. The snare strainer should be to the left of the carry point (where the drummer's sling hooks in) and the carry point should be directly behind the front panel design so the design can be seen. That way, when carried, the drummer can adjust the snares with his/her left hand just by reaching down without the need to rotate the drum to get to the snare adjustment.

The above drum is described as follows at the website of the Civil War Antique Shop: "Civil War Period Maple Shell Drum - Drum shows use & wear with 4 leathers being replaced with new, original rope & snare, inlay star is typical of the William Sempf drum maker. The size is 16 3/4" by 12", no maker mark or label inside & looks to have never had one, both heads remain very good to excellent condition. Overall a nice period drum for display in your relic room. - Price is $ 750.00 plus shipping and insurance. Item - HG-28-599."

Another Kind of Star:
This 8-pointer from the collection of Ellis Mirsky is unlike the stars more commonly seen. Manufacturer unknown, despite partial label on which the number "20" can be read, possibly "20th" (as in 20th Century; any assistance in identifying the maker from this partial label or the inlay would be greatly appreciated):


A Better Sample of the Label:

Another drum apparently by the same maker/seller recently sold by eBayer vintagebetti displays the label below, possibly of the same era, bearing similarities to the extent visible on the above label.

This label is from eBay #170227088358 (courtesy of eBayer vintagebetti).

1861 VMI Cadets Drum - Marked to Commemorate the Battle of New Market

1861 VMI Cadets Drum - Marked to Commemorate the Battle of New Market The Battle of New Market was fought on May 15, 1864, in Virginia d...