Monday, March 10, 2008

Civil War or Earlier "Porter Blanchard" of Concord, New Hampshire

First, Who was Porter Blanchard?
According to "American Military Goods Dealers and Makers, 1785-1915" (p. 13), Porter Blanchard of Concord, New Hampshire, was born in 1788 in Amherst and was a cabinet maker from 1809 until his death in 1871 (he would have been 83 years of age at death). "Along with furniture he made churns and military drums. His sons continued the churn business thru the 1890's. The surviving drums date from the Civil War era. In 1864 he is listed as drum & churn maker h 211 Main along with sons, Chas. P. and Thomas. In 1849 the 'New England Mercantile Union Directory' shows Blanchard under 'drums' indicating a business in this type of manufacture at an earlier date. A label in a drum in NH Hist. Soc. collections shows bass & tenor drums, ebony sticks, B & C fifes manufactured by Porter Blanchard, Concord, NH."

What the Seller Said About This Drum:
"An early pre war drum by Porter Blanchard of Concord N.H. Drum has been restored, new ropes, tugs and heads. This is a nice rare label which dates 1850. Size 18" high 16 wide.

"Bass and Tenor Drums / Ebony Drum-sticks / B and C FIFES / Manufactured / and For Sale / by / Porter Blancard. / A few rods north of the State-House / Concord New Hamshire.

"There is no snare hardware, just indents in bottom hoops."

See eBay #220210748329. [This drum sold at eBay auction March 16, 2008 for $786.00 to ebayer "horncollector", a collector and dealer in brass instruments with 1001 eBay evaluations under his belt. See horncollector's webpage.]

Note that the absence of a brass snare mechanism is not fatal to authenticity. See, e.g,. the 1862 Wm. S. Tompkins drum discussed in our Feb. 27, 2008 posting, "Tompkins 1860-1863 Masterpiece Drums -- Where Are They Now?" and pictured below. There was no snare mechanism there either. The snares were tightened up at the same time at the heads but pulling down on the leather tugs.

BRS Militaria
P.O. Box 178
24 School Street
Kennebunkport, ME 04046
Phone: 207 967-2906
FAX: 207 967-2997
Shop hours 10am-5pm On-line 24 hours

Field Drum collector Bob Benton writes:

"Hi Ellis:

"I own an early Porter Blanchard Snare Drum that is currently under restoration (see attached photos taken prior to restoration). The drum has several nasty splits on the shell as you can see in the photos. Like the Porter Blanchard currently on eBay, my drum has no evidence of ever having snare hardware mounted. However, I can see where the shell and rims were hand carved (the snare bed) to make clearance for the gut so the snares could be tucked in place. My label is in place and in fine shape for the age. The label speaks of Porter Blanchard, furniture maker. My drum's label is somewhat different from that on the Porter Blanchard drum on eBay. No date is listed on my label. My restoration is about 75% complete. When finished I will post photos to the blog.


"Bob Benton

Printed Label in Bob Benton's Porter Blanchard Drum:


Compare with the 1862 Wm. S. Tompkins drum that also lacks snare hardware: As shown in the photographs below of another drum by a different maker (Wm. S. Tompkins of Yonkers, NY), there is no snare hardware at all on that drum either. The snares were tucked in and pulled down along with the heads. Imagine how difficult that was to perform.

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