Sunday, April 20, 2008

Eagle Drum (188th Regt., Co. E) in Rough Shape Hits eBay Market and Draws Immediate Attention from Knowledgeable Collectors

An opportunity for some Civil War researchers to tell us where this drum came from. Its regiment and company are painted on the eagle's banner, but which state?

As to the drum, Timothy Cohen commented that its tack pattern looks like the drum could be a cut-down (height is only 10-1/2"; a comparable Vogt drum is 16" in height) Ernest Vogt drum (two Vogt drums are pictured below but unfortunately the only photos we have of a Vogt drum are of the pattern Eagle emblazonment and that does match; we'll work on getting some photos of a Vogt drum's tack pattern).

eBay item #350050814609 (seller: harcoll 3261) appeared today:

Compare this drum at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City) attributed to Vogt (ca. 1860, Philadelphia):

And Compare this 1864 Vogt drum in the collection of Civil War Fife and Drum:

16x16-1/2. Label: "“Ernest Vogt, manufacturer of Drums, Banjos, Tambourines, &c. No. 225 Beaver Street, Philadelphia, Contract, December 29, 1864."

Back to the drum on eBay:

188, 18E or 18e? (click the image to enlarge): I think it's "188" as in 188th Regiment (and there were two or more). Live inspection might resolve that issue.

Company G:

What does the interior tell us? The drum may be one-ply. The "blank" from which the shell was made can be seen to have its grain running circumferentially around the drum. The interior reinforcing hoops look thick and strong.

Seller describes the drum as follows:

"... attic fresh, ... found in an attic in Northern Michigan, the only story with it is it belonged to a regiment based in Detroit [unverified], (note the painted marks "18E" and "G") [might be "188" rather than "18e"].

"This drum measures 10-1/2" tall and the hoops are 16-3/4" across. The ropes appear to be original, but the skins are missing. Nothing has been cleaned, this still had original dust and cobwebs. Would benefit immensely from slight cleaning or restoration. Appears to have some soot or lamp black applied, darkening the blue background, but traces of the original blue still show through in spots.

"[Seller denies doing anything to the drum which] still has original layer of attic dust.... Has some whitish spots of light oxidation that would likely brush right off. Someone put two drywall screws through the lower rim to hold it in place."

Vogt Drum Referred to in Comment (below) by TCohen:

Ernest Vogt (attrib.)
Philadelphia, c. 1860
Bentwood with original paint
Height 15.75 inches, diameter 16.75 inches

(now owned by Guy Schum)

"This side drum from the 1860s bears a stenciled eagle design that was typical of the thousands of instruments produced for use by the Union Army during the Civil War. The eagle is painted on a blue field, which means it was used in the infantry, and a banner held in the eagle's beak bears the words REG: U.S. INFANTRY.

"This instrument is a rope-tension drum. Players adjust leather tugs, or "ears," to change the tension on the ropes that zigzag back and forth across the shell around the drum. The tension on the ropes changes the pitch of the skin drumhead.
"To the right of the eagle painting is a tack design. Brass tacks were used to reinforce glued shells, and the tack designs became decorative elements for drum makers and also served as a kind of maker's mark. The tack design on this drum consists of a circle around the vent hole; above and below the circle are arrows pointing toward the rims. These geometric figures are framed by two parallel rows of tacks that are parallel with the shell seam. This design is the same one used by the prolific drum manufacturer Ernest Vogt, in Philadelphia, and allows attribution to his workshop."


  1. Judging from the tack design, this looks to be a cut down Ernest Vogt drum.

  2. I have two pictures that lead me to belive that this drum may be a cut down C.F. Soistmann drum, or Horstmann Brothers. I also have a picture of a Voght tack design if you'd like. I don't mean to sound abrupt or all knowing, so please forgive me if I do. I could go into further detail if you would like.

  3. My research still leads me to believe it is in fact a Vogt drum. Hortsmann Brothers were very similar in design (arrow, circle, arrow) but were enclosed in an oval. Although it is inconclusive, this pattern appears to be more a more rectangular enclosure rather than an oval. This is based on a Caba's United States Military Drums 1845-1865, and a web link to a Vogt drum (apparent) at

    Wow - these two tack designs are very similar. I'd love to see the pictures you have, however, as you have piqued my curiosity on this matter.


  4. I owned this drum, which was sold two years ago to a "cattle baron" out West, unfortunately. The fact that it bore a clear, correct, intact Vogt factory label inside, across from the percussion hole made it 100% Vogt. The dealear from which I purchased this drum, was not aware of the label when he listed it. When I purchased it, I told him of my "discovery". Guy Schum
    I recently inherited from family, a fine, collection, of 7 large, pristine, Hitler Youth ceremonial drums, with black and white flame designs and single Hitler Youth ruins, most with straps and hanging devices. Four will be dispersed as loans to military and historical museums around the country in the near future. Guy Schum


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P.R. Winn, Drummaker

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