Sunday, November 23, 2008

Blue Eagle Bass Drum (1845-1865)

Sold by Jeff R. Bridgeman Antiques:


A Long drum is a British-style, field bass drum that is rare among surviving American military examples. This is especially true among long drums that are elaborately paint-decorated. This is one of two huge long drums that I recently acquired, both of which are equally exceptional, both of which are painted all the way around (as opposed to a painted panel that takes up 30% to 50% of the surface), and both of which have impressive eagles as center medallions on the front. Of the two, this example has a more dramatic eagle, larger and bolder. The Prussian blue background is more traditional, but no less wonderful, and likely indicates that this was an infantry drum. Blue was the specified background color for the drums of an infantry division, though much variation is seen because the organization of volunteer and state militias was rather weak in mid-19th century America and outfitting was vastly inconsistent. The back of the drum is striped in oxblood red and black, outlined in gold, while the banded rims are also in the same red.

There are two perforations on this drum. The original vent hole, rimmed with a whalebone or ivory escutcheon, is decorated with a circlet of brass tacks. A second, make-do hole is covered with a tin escutcheon. Unlike the first, it is rather battered with wear. While it appears to be a second vent hole, it is possible that it may actually be a place in which to secure the drum to a strap. In any event, it was obviously utilitarian and is rather unusual.

Condition: The condition of the paint is outstanding, with less than expected loss. The surface was certainly cleaned, but expertly, and there is no in-painting whatsoever. The surface was re-coating with shellac afterwards according to one of two repair labels on the interior (dated 1961 and 2007). The heads, ropes, and ears (leather tighteners) have been replaced, also as noted. This is standard, acceptable and expected in early drums. There is no maker’s label unless a repair label was placed on top of it.

Inv. Number pat-102

Width (inches): 25"
Height (inches): 27"
Depth: 25"
Primary Color: blue
Earliest Date: 1845
Latest Date: 1865
Available: Sold
Price SOLD

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