Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Confederate Drum Draws $18,000 at James D. Julia Auction

In an auction March 11 by James D. Julia, Civil War rope drums drew mixed interest. This confederate drum was far and away the winner, going out at $18,000. The inscribed head and provenance no doubt did a lot for its value, the drum being otherwise relatively unexceptional.

Another good specimen, a Horstmann eagle drum (discussed below), did fairly well. It was knocked down at $6,500 (against a pre-auction estimate of $7,000 to $9,000).

However, the depth of the market was surely tested (and found to be relatively shallow this week) when three other specimens drew no interest (discussed below -- See "A [Not So] Hot Week in Eagle Rope Drums", posted March 10, 2008) and appear to have been sold to a lucky floor bidder for $1 each.

"CAPTURED CONFEDERATE DRUM. You are bidding on possibly the only confederate used drum ever offered at an auction. We can find no record of another drum with such provenance as this one. Similar identified drums are in institutional collections including, The Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond Virginia, and the Atlanta Historical Society. This drum is intact and is in as found condition. Drum is a standard military drum used both North and South; 16" X 14" with about 2" high red painted hoops, a natural wood body with a geometric design, a bone vent hole plug, and orig tied on carrying strap. The drum is consigned by a direct descendant of the soldier who captured this drum and carried it home as a souvenir. There is a 15 line ink inscription on the top head which is no doubt contemporary to the capture of the drum. Because of their bulk, a drum would have been a difficult souvenir for a soldier to obtain, unless he was stationed on a ship such as soldiers fighting at Port Royal, at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, where other large souvenirs have known to have been collected. The inscription though worn and weathered, is still mostly discernible as follows. "This drum was found 3 miles from Fort Walker, Hilton Head, S.C. on the 8th of November 1861, by WM. Car.... the Steward of Steamship Manion. The drum was left in that spot by one of the drummers of the Berry Infantry of ... 7th day of ... Georgia on the named month..... after their defeat in the battle for Port Royal. The drummer ... in the hand during his... was on the drumm...SECESSION DRUM FROM PORT ROYAL, S.C." If you ever wanted a confederate used drum you better buy this one, I doubt another with iron clad provenance will ever turn up. Accompanied by copy of article from Brooklyn, NY newspaper, cs 1948-1950, in which previous owner states, "he wouldn't let anyone play my Civil War Drum...it was given to me by a friend several years ago." CONDITION: Drum appears uncleaned and untolled since the war. Surfaces of heads, hoops, and body have numerous scratches, soiled areas, and scuffs. Drum head has stain marks which could be blood. The two hoops retain most of their orig red paint. Both heads have several age cracks measuring from 1/2" to 2" long. Roping is completely original and intact though worn at high spots. Only one original leather tightener is present and it has contemporary string repair, and is quite fragile. A second retained tightener is made from a loose piece of cloth with a small civil war era buckle. The original drum strap is frayed, but mostly complete though lacking most all of it's leather attachment. The original roller buckle is retained by a safety pin. 4-31692 JS9 (10,000-15,000)." See James D. Julia, Inc. See eBay #140211734514.

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