Sunday, December 20, 2009

Insanity Over Small Rope Field Drum

As of early Sunday morning (Dec. 20, 2009), bidding on this relatively inconsequential and, possibly misdescribed European drum is approaching $600. What's all the fuss about?

It's all being driven by eBay bidder c***c( 268) who appears to have an insatiable appetite for things Civil War. A glance at the bidding history reveals that c***c( 268) has a high bid in that's being nudged up by r***c( 126) (whose own bidding history reveals that he too has a taste for things Civil War, but whose recent eBay purchasers a fewer in number by far than those of c***c( 268)).

Funny thing is that this drum MAY NOT BE CIVIL WAR!!!!!!!! It's foreign, and it's more recent. Well, at least that's the opinion of the blogmaster and at least one other reader, Will Chappell.

Reader Will Chappell, recognized drum expert, builder, collector and restorer had this to say about the drum:

The little blue drum on ebay looks like it's 20th century French or Belgian, maybe late 19th century at best. Even if it were old enough to be "Civil War Era," as described by the seller, I don't see someone importing a child-sized drum from Europe.

The distinguishing characteristics:

1) Brass European box style snare strainer with single strand of gut
2) Circular hole for snare gate
3) Metal capped sticks with long beads
4) Triangular ears

I can't believe how high people are bidding. What do you think?

[Below is] a photo of the sticks that came with my [French] Couesnon-- very similar design. The modern Belgian makers also put their initials on their brass box strainers. See for examples.

And here are some photos of my Couesnon:

And now the drum that causing all this fuss:

eBay seller the-gunsmith ( 275) is offering item no. 120506138648 described as follows:

Fantastic condition Civil War drum with drumsticks.

This drum is slightly smaller than most of the "regulation" drums I've seen. It measures 13" across the head and 9 3/8" top to bottom. It's not small enough to be a child's drum and it is too well made to be a toy. I have heard these called cadet or militia drums.

Both heads are intact with no holes or tears. This drum could be played right now. It is missing 2 of the leather rope tensioners but the rest are there and in good shape. The snare strings are there but they have become unattached from one side. An easy fix if you want to do it. The body and rims were put together with tacks and both are still as tight as the day it was made. It still has the original rope.

I could not find any makers label or mark anywhere on the drum. Usually, the label was put on the inside of the drum but there is no peephole so you can see inside. The only marks are the initials "BH" on the bracket.

The drumsticks are slightly shorter too. They measure 11 3/4" long. Both had brass caps put on the end.

This set came out of South Georgia and the drum and drumsticks supposedly have been together since the Civil War. That makes sense cause these drumsticks weren't cut down last week. Everything has a beautiful age to it. I know that an oral history isn't worth the paper it's written on but that's the story I got with the drum so I'm passing it on.


At December 22, 2009 at 1:42 PM , Blogger Ellis said...

In an email from Will Chappell, Will wrote:

"It is interesting when the euro style strainers appear on drums of American manufacture. There is a drum at the Sharpsburg museum that has a brass shell and box strainer but was made by Horstmann Bros., at least according to the label. Perhaps they were imports but not sold as such. And maybe the Klemm and Bro. drum had the strainer added later or it was copied from a strainer from a European drum. I would like to know when the American makers started putting strainers on their drums. Swiss and French drums had strainers much much earlier.

Fortunately for those crazy bidders, the reserve was set too high on the blue drum."

At December 22, 2009 at 1:44 PM , Blogger Ellis said...

Note: eBay reports that bidding ended at $565.99 without a sale because the reserve had not been met. All I can say is the seller was as extreme as the bidders. Perhaps he and the bidders know something the Blogmaster and at least one well-informed reader don't. But, I doubt it.


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