Saturday, September 6, 2008

8-Pointed Inlay in John F. Stratton Drum

Where have we seen this inlay design before? See 20th Century Brand Drums where we discuss the following two other drums with identical inlays, one with a "20th Century Brand Drums" printed label and the other without a label:

Tim McKenzie, eBay name mckenziedrums( 195), writes in his eBay posting for his John F. Stratton drum (eBay item no. 300255753248):

Mid-Late 1800's John Stratton Snare Drum
This one is kind of a funny story... I bought this drum a while back planning on restoring it. It actually would clean up VERY nice with minimal work but I never got around to it. Originally I purchased it believing it to be an early Ludwig snare. In the 3rd picture [last below] you can just make out the tag on the inside. Somewhere over the past 140 odd years (Yea.. this is the oldest drum I've ever owned by about 60-70 years!) someone tried to pass this off as a Ludwig and put on a paper tag from Luddy's early days. It even has the "AeroKraft" sticker in there that they used to promote the strength of their shells. Pretty interesting to think that someone 80 years ago was doing this.

I spent quite some time researching trying to track down just when Ludwig made a field drum with this kind of inlay detail and enamel on the hoops. After emailing several well known collectors, including one that checked with a member of the Ludwig family I had stumped everyone. Thankfully a friend of mine over at (Hello fellow 'holics!) somehow managed to find a drum with matching hoops and with some more research we were able to determine that this was indeed much older than original thought. Unfortunately I never had the rope to put it together properly so I hope the new owner will get a chance to use this as it was intended. Would be great to polish off a collection or even to be used in re-enactments I suppose. The hoops are just starting to go a little out of round but do go on a drum head with just a little encouragement. The shell itself is actually in terrific shape and in round. The inlay work is amazing and is in great shape. There are some places on the hoops where the enamel is definitely showing wear but over all it's in excellent shape for the age of the instrument.

If you could find the proper rope tension this one could easily be proudly displayed in a museum. I decided not to attempt the restoration once I reallized what this drum was. I'd be happy to offer any assistance I can to the new owner as far as restoring it though if you decide to do it.

Actually I just reallized this is a 15" size. I've got a skin batter head that I'll include with the drum. Don't have any snare side heads, sorry!

Thanks for looking!

-Tim McKenzie

Civil War? Probably Not:
Well, based on a few of the design details, my take on this drum is that it's approximately turn of the century early 20th century or very late 19th century. The stenciled counterhoops and snare mechanism anchor mid-way along the shell (which would have been used with a long snare strainer rod that extended the length of the shell) suggest post-Civil War manufacture. Also, the apparently strong interior reinforncing hoops just look relatively recent. So, it's a nice drum but not something to be concerned about restoring to a prettier look, in my opinion.

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