Sunday, June 29, 2008

Round and Round, Here We Go . . .

Where it stops, no one knows.
Hmmm! Seems we saw this drum recently. "Where?", you ask? Well, right here (or there) on eBay. Yes, Seller (here) vintagecolectables4u (let's call her/him "4u"), was the winning bidder at eBay auction no. 350071358053 closing last Thursday, June 26, 2008 at $200.00. 4u was the only bidder. The seller (alderferauction) at that auction listed the address of the auction to be Hatfield, Pennsylvania.

In 4u's auction of the same drum, (eBay item no. 120277963406), 4u lists his/her address as "down by the sea, United States". Hatfield is more than 200 miles for anything that could even remotely be described as "sea". So, I am going to assume that 4u was not at the auction and has not yet taken possession of the drum. It's even possible that 4u has not even paid for the drum and that the drum has not been shipped 2 4u and that the drum is, instead, waiting until 4 u pay 4u 4 the drum. 4u apparently would like to be able to instruct the alderferauction to ship directly 2 u, if you become the buyer from 4u.

I'll explain. Here it is, Sunday, June 29, 2008, and the very same drum as 4u bought three days ago is now listed for sale by 4u 4 sale on eBay. I doubt that 4u has taken possession of the drum. And, and it's possible that 4u has not yet even paid for the drum. 4u could be simply waiting 4 u 2 pay 4u 4 the drum that 4u bought 4 u and have u pay 4u more than 4u paid 4 the drum (including, of course, recovery of shipping charges and a 20% buyer's premium). 4u will need about $275 just be break even, I suspect.

What's the deal here? Is 4u a collector, a trader or an arbitrageur? In this case, the evidence points to trading which 4u is trying to convert into something close to arbitrage by trading the drum 2u even before payment is due.

Where do we see this all the time, every day? In the stock market and commodity markets, for examples. Let's take the oil trading business. In that field, "traders" (people skilled at taking very expensive risks with lots of other people's money) buy and sell oil by the barrel (actually 100,000 barrel lots). Over the phone, they buy and sell oil and various types of refined gasoline -- of which they usually never take delivery -- hoping for a swing in the market price before selling that which they've just bought, or buying to cover that which they've just sold).

Sound confusing? Well, just think of it as buying with the hope of selling at a profit. The difference is that in oil trading, buyers never (usually never) actually take delivery of the 100,000 barrels they buy (unless they are buying for their own consumption, e.g., as a distributor or utility company, and have a place to store it when they take delivery).

Here, the commodity is a single drum. But the principle is the same: buy with the hope of selling at a profit, and possibly even avoid shipping charges, handing, taking delivery and storage.

What is Arbitrage? Arbitrage is a transaction that makes a profit without risk, as when a buyer buys at the same time that the buyer has another buyer waiting for the good/service at a higher price. Well, we don't quite have that situation. There is some risk that a buyer will not come forward to pay more than the transaction costs that 4u paid in acquiring the drum. But, I think that the risk is small, for the reasons discussed below.

Here 4u has agreed to purchase the drum from alderferauction (eBay auction no. 350071358053), at a live auction. I (and I think other eBayers) tend to stay away from live auctions because of past experience that it's usually a floor bidder who takes away the prize, or someone willing to hang out on-line and play the game live. eBayers, I believe, who buy drums prefer to place their bid and wait. Some snipe. But hanging out live on-line is the preferred mode of bidding in our little community. Thus, I believe that 4u underpaid for this drum and that the value is indeed more than $200. I also think that alderferauction would have done better with a straight eBay auction that a live auction, at least as to this drum.

So it was, I think, that 4u came to own this drum. And, not being a collector but a trader (or a "collector 4u"), the drum was bought 4u. Now it's up 2u 2 buy it from 4u. Let's see if u do.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Here We Go Again -- Refurbished Eagle Drum Returns to eBay

We've seen this drum before:
This blog note was first posted four hours prior to the end of the auction of eBay of item no. 290240305716. By that time, the drum had been bid up to $1,225 with 19 bids by 8 bidders. However, the professionals appeared to be holding back, either waiting to strike with a last second snipe or passing on this opportunity altogether. Our guess was that it would not go much higher (we were right).

This is the very same drum that was sold on eBay and reported in this blog at "Eagle Drum Goes for $1380 on eBay" March 7, 2008. We didn't much like it then and we don't much care for it now.

What do we know about this drum?
Well, the rope looks relatively new, certainly not period. Its condition is too good. The snare butt leather looks recent. The hooks look vintage.

And the top "head" looks pretty good too, especially the color and the lack of rips and tears. BUT!!!!!! That's because it's not a head at all. It's a piece of wood. Uh oh! This baby's going to need some fixin'.

The absence of a batter head is the reason that the top counterhoop looks like it has been pulled down too far, like a size 8 sombrero on a size 5 head. The top counterhoop is obviously pulled down too far along the drum's shell.

And, even though the top counterhoop is pulled so far down, there is still a large gap between the bottom of the top counterhoop and the top of the blue background behind the painted eagle. It just does not look right to us. In every eagle drum we've seen, including the many pictured in this blog, where there is a blue background, the background extends under the top counterhoop. And, where visible, it extends to the top of the drum shell. This is the only example of a blue background falling short and not even extending under the top counterhoop.

Next the red and white stripes on the union shield raise a question. Most displays of the 13 stripes show 7 red and 6 white. This drum shows the reverse (6 red and 7 white). We have not found any authority stating that it must be 7 red and 6 white (or that it had to be that way in the 1860's), However, we did find this much:

"The stars and stripes originated as a result of a resolution adopted by the Marine Committee of the Second Continental Congress at Philadelphia on June 14, 1777. The resolution read:

"RESOLVED, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation." Our Flag, Joint Committee on Printing, United States Congress, Washington, 1998, p. 1.

To be fair, although most displays of the union shield on eagle drums that we've seen show 7 red and 6 white stripes, there is one additional example of the reverse as here (6 red and 7 white stripes) on the eagle drum that is the subject of the posting, "Bada Boom -- Bidding Explodes for Old Eagle Drum", May 5, 2008.

All in all, we don't much care for this drum -- too many questions raise concerns about authenticity and vintage.



P.S. Did we call this, or what? The seller (hunteryy12) took a $55 (plus shipping) loss after purchasing this questionable relic in March for $1,380 and selling it today for $1,355. And I was not alone in assessing this baby on the low side. The evidence for that is the absence of snipers (people who use ezsnipe and other services to submit their highest bid 6 seconds or so prior to the end of an eBay auction -- all completely legal viz. eBay standards), coupled with the absence of known pros, one of whom dropped out at the $53 level, confirm that this baby just doesn't have what it takes to command a Civil War regimental eagle drum's usual premium.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

20th Century Brand Drums

We're always looking for ways to tie different drums together, whether by outward appearance, design feature, or label. Here we bring together in one article several drums, the first two of which are linked by label, the second and third of which are linked by a design feature -- an eight-point inlay.

The thought being identities: if A=B and B=C, then A=C (something remaining from my math studies). Does it? Maybe, maybe not.

First, Drum "A", a Drum with a "20th Century Drums and Drummers Traps" Label:

According to eBayer vintagebetti concerning eBay item #170227088358:

It measures 14" in diameter x 10" high. The drum heads are most likely calf or some other type of animal skin. Both are nice and tight, without any holes or other damage. I'm not sure what the snares are made of but they appear to be all there an in excellent condition. The wood is Birdseye maple. The leather tension braces are all present and seem to be in good shape. I'm not sure why there is so much extra rope.. The strap has a leather heart shaped piece sewn in. This looks like a perfect candidate for restoration. It wouldn't take much to bring back the original beauty of this antique drum.

Next, Drum "B", another Drum with a "20th Century Drums and Drummers Traps" Label:

Previously mentioned in "Drums with Inlaid Stars" in this blog, is this example of a drum apparently by the same maker/distributor/retailer with what remains of its interior pasted paper label (exterior refurbished by Cooperman Drum Company).

Here's the label that ties this drum (B) to the first drum (A):

And here's the design feature on drum B linking this drum with the next drum (C) that lacks a label:

And Here's Drum "C" -- Same Inlay, but Different Snare Strainer and No Label:

Compare this drum with the same inlay (well, almost the same -- the inlay is reversed; an easy mistake to make during manufacture) but a different snare strainer design:

From the collection of Ellis Mirsky (purchased on eBay #260234897749)

In another posting on this blog ("Marquetry in Drums of the Past", posted April 11, 2008) we explored marquetry and inlay in drums, and discussed the fact that marquetry inlay motifs are available for purchase separately and can be inlaid complete in a waiting veneer. So, it's possible that the inlay was made elsewhere and inserted by the manufacturer. Separating the manufacture of the inlay from the manufacture of the drum introduces the possibility that the two drums could be of different manufacture. Add the different snare strainers into the analysis and the probability of the two drums having been made by the same company is further reduced.

So, in this case, even though A=B and B=C, C may not equal A.

Note: We're working on a posting with a related subject -- a different 20th Century label, in metal. Coming soon.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Bidding Goes Wild on 1862 Civil War Bass Drum with Painted Star Spangled Banner, Possible Battle of Fort Donelson Veteran

Bidding went wild as this magnificent specimen broke the bank at almost $3,000 on eBay. Here's the play-by-play. You can see where the pros got in and took over. In the last 12 minutes of the auction, the price tripled and the drum ultimately went to a seasoned pro who out-sniped two other snipers in the last 9 seconds of the auction.

js580( 395) US $2,851.00 Jun-18-08 08:22:03 PDT
js580( 395) US $2,851.00 Jun-18-08 08:22:03 PDT
o***s( 648) US $2,801.00 Jun-18-08 08:22:02 PDT
c***t( 138) US $1,601.00 Jun-18-08 08:21:54 PDT
d***d( 103) US $1,470.00 Jun-18-08 08:21:59 PDT
a***l( 161) US $1,200.00 Jun-18-08 07:26:20 PDT
a***l( 161) US $1,160.50 Jun-18-08 07:25:48 PDT
e***e( 71) US $1,160.00 Jun-18-08 08:19:54 PDT
e***e( 71) US $1,110.00 Jun-18-08 08:18:25 PDT
e***e( 71) US $1,059.99 Jun-18-08 08:17:00 PDT
e***e( 71) US $1,009.99 Jun-18-08 08:15:42 PDT
e***e( 71) US $985.00 Jun-18-08 08:15:11 PDT
e***e( 71) US $965.00 Jun-18-08 08:14:37 PDT
e***e( 71) US $935.00 Jun-18-08 08:13:48 PDT
5***h( 4 ) US $910.00 Jun-18-08 04:35:13 PDT
a***l( 161) US $755.50 Jun-17-08 09:52:42 PDT
a***l( 161) US $655.00 Jun-09-08 07:25:50 PDT
r***c( 717) US $575.00 Jun-17-08 19:51:22 PDT
d***d( 103) US $500.00 Jun-08-08 18:42:28 PDT
js580( 395) US $165.00 Jun-08-08 21:16:35 PDT
m***e( 82) US $152.75 Jun-08-08 19:34:17 PDT
s***s( 99) US $10.00 Jun-08-08 17:51:27 PDT

Starting Price US $0.99 Jun-08-08 08:22:06 PDT

This big beauty (25" diam. x 20") appeared early last week on eBay in a 10-day auction as item #160248970372 and described as follows:

United States Union Army Civil War Rope Tension Bass Drum in well aged condition. There is a hole and a tear in one side of the drum. I think it is a bass drum that was carried vertically. A good portion of the original strap harness is still attached. The drum measures 20 inches tall and 25 inches in diameter. Most of the artwork has faded but you can still see the distinct remnants of the Star Spangled Banner on the side. I cannot make out enough of the art to describe. Please refer to the photographs. The drum is still very solid and sturdy. The history of this item is remarkable in that it came from Tennessee, the sight of the Battle of Fort Donelson where Ulysses S. Grant defeated the Confederate Army, one of the first major Union victories of the Civil War in 1862. However, this information cannot be confirmed. This item was discovered in early 2008 while taking inventory of an estate of a collector in Missouri who had recently passed. Along with the drum was found a Display Sheet (also included) which states the following.

This drum came from Fort Donelson - Feb. 6, 1862. The fort is on the Cumberland River at about the place where the State Line separates Kentucky from Tennessee. The Confederates surrendered to U. S. Grant.

The date on the sheet is in error because February 16 was the true date of the victory. This may have just been a transcription error. Either way, this is quite the collectable for any History or Civil War Buff.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Tompkins Drum Appears in Union Army Drummer Carte de Visite, J. Austen, Oswego, New York backmark

Compare the drum in the CDV above with the William S. Tompkins drum (1862) below from the collection of Ellis Mirsky. The circular inlay patterns in both drums are identical. (Click on the CDV to enlarge it.) Also, the counterhoops in the drum in the CDV bear Tompkins' characteristic multi-color banding.

This is indeed an outstanding correlation and a wonderful discovery. Is it possible that we are looking at the same drum in photos taken roughly 150 years apart? If not the same drum, the drums certainly came out of the same shop (Wm. S. Tompkins) in Yonkers, New York ca. 1862.

Heritage Auction Galleries 2008 June Signature Civil War Auction #6002

Union Army Drummer Carte de Visite, J. Austen, Oswego, New York backmark. A mature young man - hardly a "boy" - stands by his drum wearing a regulation musician's sword secured by a Model 1851 sword belt plate. Overall browning, some edge chipping, bend on lower right corner. Good condition. Estimate: $400 - $600.

2008 June Signature Civil War Auction #6002

Civil War-Era Folk Art Painted Drum, Belonging to "Isaac Golden"

Heritage Auction Galleries' 2008 June Signature Civil War Auction #6002

Civil War-Era Folk Art Painted Drum, Belonging to "Isaac Golden" as his name is gilded in period paint on a red ribbon. Also painted into the ribbon are the words "E. Pluribus Unum"; it is being held in an Eagles beak. The eagle is grasping an olive branch in one claw and a quiver of arrows in the other. Centerpiece of the drum is the colorful federal shield. On the back there is a brass tack pattern. This particular drum appears to have seen much use, but it has aged very well.

The body of the drum has slight aged varnish cracking; it has been cared for & stored very well over the years. The tension ropes are missing and top drumhead band is a little loose. The drum itself measures 12.5" in height, both drum heads measure 16" in diameter and have old tape repairs. This drum was manufactured in Flushing, New York by the A. Rodgers Company as the paper label is still visible inside.

On the bottom head of the drum is written, in pencil, "William H. Golden/ Mar 2, 1901/ Pawtuxet, R.I." and nearby "Samuel H. Golden/ April 20, 1931", certainly two later owners of this drum that was proudly passed down through generations of the Golden family.

There were several soldiers named Isaac Golden that served in the Civil War. One likely candidate, it seems to us, was a member of the 140th Pennsylvania Infantry. On August 22, 1862 the formal organization of the Company was effected, ninety-six entered their names on the Company roll including Isaac Golden from West Alexander, Washington County, Pennsylvania. Isaac Golden died at Washington D.C. on April 15, 1863; he is buried in Military Asylum Cemetery.

Provenance: The Norm Flayderman Collection. Estimate: $3,500 - $4,500.

2008 June Signature Civil War Auction #6002

Civil War Drum Carried By Mathias Lowman, Maryland 5th Infantry

Heritage Auction Galleries' 2008 June Signature Civil War Auction #6002

Civil War Drum Carried By Mathias Lowman, Maryland 5th Infantry. Made by the Union Drum Manufacturing Company of Baltimore, Maryland, the drum measures 14.25" in diameter by 10.25" high. The drum has most of the original maker's label. The wood drum body has a painted blue front with a shield, flanked by flags, and a riband above with "E Pluribus Unum". Below is "No. 18 PG (?)". The drum rims are painted red. There are six original leather tension braces and the skin drumhead. The interior of the drum has several inscriptions, "M. F. Lowman of Comp. I - Capt. Faehtz, 5th Md. Vol. U.S.A."; "Head quarters Comp, Washington - Fortress Monroe, Va. - 5th Md. Vol. U.S.A., Comp I - Capt. Faehtz"; and, "Samuel Lowman of Elkton, Md". The top drum rim is split and the drumhead is ripped. There is some paint loss, else, very good.

Mathias Lowman enlisted as a musician in Company I, Maryland 5th Infantry on October 5, 1861 and was mustered out on October 5, 1864. The 5th Regiment Infantry was organized at Baltimore, Md., September, 1861 and served at camp at LaFayette Square, Baltimore, Md., until March, 1862. Ordered to Fortress Monroe, Va., March 11, 1862. Duty there and at Suffolk, Va., to September, 1862. Moved to Washington, D. C., thence to Antietam, Md., September 8-16. Battle of Antietam, Md., September 16-17. Moved to Harper's Ferry September 22 and duty there until January, 1863. Reconnaissance to Charleston October 16-17. At Point of Rocks and Maryland Heights protecting Baltimore & Ohio Railroad until June, 1863. Moved to Winchester, Va., June 2. Battle of Winchester June 13-15; mostly captured; those not captured at Bloody Run, Pa., and Loudon, Pa., until July. Duty in the Defenses of Baltimore, Middle Department, until January, 1864, and in the District of Delaware, Middle Department, until June, 1864. Ordered to Join Army of the Potomac in the field June 4, 1864. Siege operations against Petersburg and Richmond, Va., June 16, 1864, to April 2, 1865. Mine Explosion, Petersburg, July 30, 1864 (Reserve). Duty in trenches before Petersburg until September 27. Battle of Chaffin's Farm, New Market Heights, September 28-30. Battle of Fair Oaks October 27-28. Duty in trenches before Richmond until April, 1865. Occupation of Richmond April 3. Pursuit of Lee to Appomattox Court House April 3-9. Appomattox Court House April 9. Surrender of Lee and his army. Duty in the Dept. of Virginia until September, 1865.

Also in this sale are Mathias Lowman's hardwood drumsticks. Estimate: $5,000 - $7,000.

2008 June Signature Civil War Auction #6002


Another Drum by Union Manufacturing:

Another drum recently appearing at auction is described as bearing a Union Manufacturing label. The drum went up for sale at auction March 29, 2008 by Mike Kent Auctions. Lot 277 is described on that firm's website.

"Rope tension drum in good condition with complete heads. The drum measures approx. 17” x 16” and has a “Union Manufacturing Company” label on the inside of the drum."

The drum was estimated to sell in the $800-$1,000 range.

Civil War Drumsticks Carried By Mathias Lowman, Maryland 5th Infantry

Heritage Auction Galleries' 2008 June Signature Civil War Auction #6002:

Civil War Drumsticks Carried By Mathias Lowman, Maryland 5th Infantry. Made of hardwood, each drumstick measures 17.25" and both are nicely patinated. They are sold with the brass keeper buckle. Fine.

Also in this sale is Mathias Lowman's painted wood Civil War drum. Estimate: $800 - $1,000.

2008 June Signature Civil War Auction #6002

Civil War Period Bass Drum with Original Beaters Identified to Silas E. Peck, 10th Connecticut Infantry

Heritage Auction Galleries' 2008 June Signature Civil War Auction #6002:

Civil War Period Bass Drum with Original Beaters Identified to Silas E. Peck, 10th Connecticut Infantry. The drum is 23½" tall with a 25" diameter. Retains what appears to be the original rope and heads, the heads having a couple of small holes/splits but quite sound. Four of the original leather tighteners are still on the drum with seven additional original tighteners included. Wooden body very good, finish just showing some light scratches and dents from normal use. There is an 18" hairline that extends around the circumference with the grain, really minimal and detracts little. The original oak-handled, hand-stitched leather beaters also excellent with turned decoration. The ID is on an old paper typewritten label.

Silas Peck served with the 10th Conn. From August 14, 1862, till muster out on June 15, 1865. During this period the regiment was engaged in numerous expeditions/battles in North and South Carolina. After moving to Virginia in 1864 the regiment was engaged at Drewry's Bluff, Deep Bottom, Petersburg, Hatcher's Run, and numerous other engagements. The regiment lost during its term of service ten officers and 109 enlisted men killed and mortally wounded. A nice Civil War bass drum with good ID and the added feature of the original beaters. Estimate: $1,800 - $2,000.

2008 June Signature Civil War Auction #6002

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Field Drums: Clayton Holmes Drum, 1937

This comment (below) was received today from "Susan" (last name not provided) concerning a previous article on this blog (Susan please write directly to the Blogmaster): Field Drums: Clayton Holmes Drum, 1937

Susan's comment is considered important by the Blogmaster for a number of reasons, including for the reason that it contains information that may enable one to distinguish between an Eli Brown original and a Clayton Holmes and other copy.
Susan wrote: A fabulous find! Old Clayt Holmes was like many other CT Valley drummers of the early 20th c who sought to replicate the increasingly harder-to-find drums made by Eli Brown in Bloomfield, CT. However, he deviated somewhat from the more or less "square" dimensions utilized by Brown in the 1830s and 40s; I suspect the increased height was Holmes' tribute to the "long" drums popularized in the 1930s by such eminent makers as Sanford "Gus" Moeller.

In any event, Holmes's trademark, so to speak, is the romantic figure (never ribald, always tasteful)
[see above] carved in bas relief [bas-relief - A French term meaning "low-raised work." This art, along with high relief, is known collectively as relief sculpture -- meant to be seen primarily from one direction -- as opposed to sculpture which is in the round or full round. (pr. bah'ruh-leef')] opposite the vent hole of most of his drums (I have seen only one without such a figure).

The creative and constructive license Holmes took was much unlike the methods of [NAME WITHHELD FROM PUBLICATION BY BLOGMASTER AS NOT YET CORROBORATED BY BLOGMASTER], whose attempts to replicate the Brown drum construction were so meticulous they required an accomplice, printer-friend [DITTO], who replicated the very labels used by Eli Brown. I have found that the only sure way to tell a [DITTO] drum from an original Brown is the hand-written notation [DITTO] sometimes (!) left inside the shell. ;-) Susan

Anyone with additional information concerning copies of Brown drums is encouraged to share that information with our readers by writing to the Blogmaster.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

We've Hit the 100 Mark -- 100 Postings

I am happy to say that we've hit a milestone -- 100 posts (102, actually, with this posting). If you haven't already done so, click on the archives and read all of our articles. Or use the search feature to find articles about a particular drum or manufacturer.

Daily visits are now in the 50-70 range and growing. Readers are coming from all over the globe, and many are contributing photos and information about their drums which will make for interesting reading in the weeks to come.

But now it's time that we hear for the collectors out there (you know who you are). It's your turn to share the wealth that you've been accumulating in your basements and garages. Send us photos and written material so the rest of the world can learn from and enjoy the treasures that you've acquired.

It's important to keep in mind that the old drums we all love are part of the rich cultural patrimony of our nation. They don't belong in your basement any more than an original of the Declaration of Independence. Those drums, or at least images of them and information about them, belong on the Internet. This non-commercial, pro bono publico website is as good a place as any to start.

So, get out your digital cameras and take pictures of your drums. Then send those photos to us so we can post them with whatever information you might have. We'll even do additional research.

You'll be doing a good deed and working to preserve the history you would otherwise merely be appropriating to yourself until financial circumstances cause you or your executors to put the drums back on the market. After all, our custody of these drums is only temporary. They were here before we arrived and, with care, will be around long after we've departed.

Feel free to comment below.


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Double Claw Rod Brass Snare Drum -- What Year?

Although described as "very early civil war ear", I am without any basis to put this any earlier than late 1800s. If any reader has better information please write.

eBay item #150254613278
Seller: littleshanno

For your consideration a wonderful 1800s Civil War Era drum. I recently purchased this drum at a local estate sale along with other items from the same period. I am not an expert on drums but I will try to describe this one as best as possible. I was told by the family members of the estate this drum came out of that this drum was used in the Civil War. I could not find any markings of any kind on the drum. The drum measures 16" in diameter and is 8" in width. The catgut on one side has been torn. The black bands around the drum are made of bent wood and are stenciled. The stenciling has faded some. There are a couple of cracks in the wood but they are very minor. There is a mounting devise in the side of the drum to hang it from the players uniform. The center band of the drum is metal. It must be brass or copper as it will not magnetize.

P.R. Winn, Drummaker

An article by W. Lee Vinson, author and publisher of and . For Lee's story about ...