Monday, March 10, 2008

A [Not So] Hot Week in Eagle Rope Drums

This week Civil War eagle drums seem to be coming out of the attics and hitting the auction houses (or James D. Julia, Inc. at any rate).

This sampling looks good and is sure to test the depth of the market by offering three relatively good (but not the best) quality drums at the same time. In the past, at the eBay level, an abundance of rope drums at auction at any one time has tended to drive prices down as the buying portion of the market has only so much appetite (remember supply and demand). Let's see whether that holds true at this level as well.

[Note: All quotes below are the seller's descriptions.]

Eagle Drum by Horstmann, Philadelphia
Sold at $6,500 to a floor bidder, March 11, 2008 (below original estimte of $7,000 to $9,000)

"CIVIL WAR EAGLE DRUM. You are bidding on a beautiful Civil War Eagle Drum about 13" t, 16-1/2" across. A similar painted drum is pictured in Mark Elrod's book, A Pictoral History of Civil War Era Musical Instruments and Military Bands. That drum has a label noting manufacture by Horstmann of PA. This drum is full-sized and not cut down as so many were for later service. Upper head, rope, and leather braces may be restorations, as is usually the case, but now have appropriate age look. Upper rim considerably worn perhaps from too many rim shots where the drummer rests one stick on the rim while he strikes it with the other. Drum still has its original gut snares. The body of the drum is tiger-eye maple. An old coat of varnish has preserved the painting, but has darkened with age. Colors underneath are strikingly vivid worth[y] of professional cleaning. CONDITION: Overall, very good. Top head is restored as are tighteners; otherwise, drum is in as-found condition. Paint is very good and bright with scattered scratches, scrapes, and soiling. Top hoop is broken and separated, but sits on drum well, and does not affect aesthetics. 87566 (7,000-9,000)." See James D. Julia, Inc. See eBay #140211734523.

Eagle Drum by John D. McCarthy, Lewiston, Maine
No bids (per conversation 3/14/08 with Bill of James D. Julia) at March 11, 2008 auction (original estimate was $5,000 to $8,000)

"MAINE-MADE CIVIL WAR ERA DRUM. This eagle-and-shield hand decorated drum is labeled on the interior "John D. McCarthy Drums...Lewiston Maine". The fierce eagle decoration with "E Pluribus Unum" banner in beak, peace branch and arrows in its talons, all on a red, white, and blue shield. Thirteen gold rays and stars are arrayed over the wings. All but one of the original tighteners are present, skin on the top appears original, the bottom one an old replacement. CONDITION: Drum side has a split radiating the entire circumference of the drum, painted eagle is strong, two retaining bands on top and bottom appear to be repainted. 4-32242 JJ15 (5,000-8,000)." See James D. Julia, Inc. See eBay #140211734332.

Eagle Drum by John F. Stratton, New York City
No bids (per conversation 3/14/08 with Bill of James D. Julia) at March 11, 2008 auction (original estimate was $4,500 to $6,500)

"CIVIL WAR ERA NEW YORK MADE DRUM. Eagle and banner decorated regulation infantry drum retaining maker's label on inside: "John F. Stratton Military Drums, 105 East 22nd Street, New York". Drum retains all but one of the leather tighteners, the cord a later replacement. Both at top and bottom have old but possibly not original skins (top with a split along the edge). CONDITION: We do not guarantee how old paint and and eagle is, otherwise generally good condition. 4-32243 JJ16 (4,500-6,500)." See James D. Julia, Inc. See eBay #140211734250.

Compare the artwork on this drum by "Ernest Vogt, Phila. Pa., contract Dec. 29, 1864," J. Craig Nannos Collection, pictured at p. 50 of "A Pictorial History of Civil War Era Musical Instruments & Military Bands":

Eagle Bass Drum
No bids (per conversation 3/14/08 with Bill of James D. Julia) at March 11, 2008 auction (original estimate was $8,000 to $12,000)

"LARGE PRE-CIVIL WAR EAGLE DECORATED DRUM. This large period drum in original old paint and decoration features a large wonderful folk art spread-wing eagle with flag and a round wreath of foliate design. Also a second painted spread-wing eagle on the opposite side of the drum. CONDITION: Many of the original leather tensioners are present. Original cord has at some time been replaced with later cord. Drum includes its original leather harness. Skins are intact, but each has a small split. Wooden retainer bands at top and bottom feature the original old red paint; both have age splits, one reinforced with four early handmade raisin-head nails. 4-32241 JJ14 (8,000-12,000)." See James D. Julia, Inc. See eBay #140211734250.

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