Saturday, April 12, 2008

1830's Meacham & Pond Eagle Drum and Sticks -- Looks very good

Ebay item #300215316269 lists:

"Up for auction is one of the finest Jacksonian-era American military rope tension eagle snare drums ever to be offered for sale on ebay. This style and size of drum was used by both Regular Army and militia units from the 1830s through the Civil War. The beautiful hand-painted eagle on its shell speaks for itself and is a superb example of the type found on federalist period American military snare drums. The small maker label inside the shell directly opposite the vent hole indicates it was made by Meacham & Pond, 84 State St., Albany, New York. The partnership of Horace S. Meacham and Sylvanus Pond music store and instrument manufacturing business existed between the years 1828-1832, which dates the drum's manufacture between those years. It appears that sometime after the Meacham & Pond partnership ended, the name of 'Pond' was neatly cut out of the label inside the shell.

[Ed. Note: An alternative explanation is that the drum dates from after the Meacham & Pond era, that Meacham continued using materials and supplies from the Meacham & Pond era, even after Pond was no longer with him, and that the name "Pond" was cut neatly out of the label to reflect that Pond had left the enterprise. So, until I pin that down, I don't necessarily agree with the date offered by the seller. It could be later, but probably not much.]

**** COMMENT FROM Garman Bowers Jr. ****

...I came across the pictures of the 1830’s Meacham drum that belongs to Mark Elrod. I have this drum in my possession for a little while, for he asked me to restore it to playing condition for him. Nothing much has to be done to it other than replacing some of the leather ears, replacing the gut snares (which you are right were not originals) with better ones, and replacing the rope with hemp rope which would have been what was used originally. You are somewhat incorrect on your thoughts about the Meacham and Pond label that was in the drum. If the labels were left over inventory from Meacham & Pond partnership (which ended in 1832) they would have cut the “Pond” out of the labels before affixing them to the inside of the drum shell (the easiest and most efficient way to do this). However, this is not the case. The drum shells show the knife cuts from where the “Pond” was cut out after the labels were affixed. I also have a Meacham & Pond drum (an exact match to Mark’s drum down to the “Pond” being cut out of the label and showing the knife cuts in the shell) except mine does not have the eagle painted on it (which makes it so I can use it to do both Union and Confederate impressions). I’m sure you are right that Meacham did have inventory left to sell after the partnership ended, but in the case of Mark’s drum and mine it is most likely that the drums themselves were the left over inventory not just the labels making the drums made just before the partnership ended [i.e., pre-1832] and sold sometime there after.


"The overall condition of the drum is far better than most drums of this type that have survived over the past 175 years. The ash shell has no cracks, splits or warps and measures 14 1/2" (not including the hoops) and is 16" in diameter. The vivid red hoops are in excellent condition with no cracks or warping. The shell has a fine double circle and diamond tack design directly to the right side of the eagle. There are three tacks that were applied to the corners of the shield on the eagles breast at one time which can be easily removed if so desired. The rope currently on the drum appears to date to the mid-19th century. There are ten leather tugs (ears) on the drum dating to the mid 19th century in various states of condition. The snare and batter heads have no tears and in all probability do not date to the drum's manufacture date. The seven gut snares over the snare heads were probably attached sometime over the past fifty years and are not contemporary to the drums 19th century usage.

"The accompanying large drum sticks or 'clubs' that appear to be made out of maple or ash were probably made during the same period as the drum, if not earlier. They are 17 1/2" long with 3/4" diameter beads.

"This drum is truly one of the rarest and most sought after pieces of Americana as well as a most desirable piece of American military equipage and would be a fabulous edition to any American militaria or general Americana collection.

"The maximum diameter of these sticks (at the point where there are three rings)is ,75 or 3/4". I am told (but I am not sure) that the sticks may be made out opf persimmon wood but as the old saying goes, don't hold my feet to the fire on that."

Other Meacham Drums:

Other Meacham and Meacham type drums are discussed in this blog at Horncollector Snipes Again -- Takes J.& H. Meacham "Type" Drum in Heavily Contested eBay Auction.

See also Meacham drum at Sharpsburg Arsenal.

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