Thursday, September 25, 2008


CDV PHOTOGRAPH DRUMMER BOY ROBERT HENDERSHOT CA 1860S. War fever had gripped Jackson after the fall of Fort Sumter and like many others, Hendershot longed for the glory of battle. His widowed mother may also have hoped that military life might instill some discipline in her delinquent son. He was a frequent runaway, and his aversion to school was such that he could not even sign his own name. He claimed to be ten that summer of 1861, but like many aspects of his life, that is in dispute, as various documents give birthdates ranging from early 1846 to 1851, and no less than four different birthplaces, from Michigan to New York City. When he enlisted, Hendershot was a slight-framed boy, 4½ feet tall, with fair hair, hazel eyes and a ruddy complexion. He bore a deep scar under his right eye that he would submit as his first badge of courage. He soon dropped his implausible claim to have received that scar as the result of a severe wound at Shiloh (at the time his regiment had been camped more than 600 miles away). By the end of 1862, though, events at Fredericksburg would give him another, more believable, opportunity for fame. In the fall of 1861, Hendershot was a fixture in the camp of the Jackson County Rifles. There, he incessantly practiced his drum calls, an activity that caused at least one recruit to call him "a perfect little pest." He apparently accompanied the Rifles to Fort Wayne, outside Detroit, where the unit became Company "C" of the 9th Michigan Infantry. Robert claimed to have enlisted along with the others, but said that the mustering officer rejected him because of extreme youth. In any case, he boarded the train that carried the regiment south, either as a stowaway or as a servant to Captain Charles V. DeLand, the commander of Company "C" and editor of Jackson's American Citizen. Robert formally enlisted in the 9th in March 1862, when the regiment moved from Kentucky to Murfreesboro, Tenn. He remained with Company "C", which was posted at the Murfreesboro courthouse as provost guards. He was there on July 13 when Confederate Colonel Nathan Bedford Forrest launched a pre-dawn raid on the town. During the battle, Robert claimed that he fearlessly exposed himself to enemy fire, a claim later substantiated by several 9th Michigan soldiers. This exquisite albumen CDV of the Hendershot "Drummer Boy" was photographed by Brady of New York and Washington D. C.

Condition: Very fine, fantastic contrast.

Sold: $1,912.00, Nashville, TN on Saturday, December 1, 2007


Brady Carte de Visite of "Drummer Boy of the Rappahannock" Robert Hendershot. When the Civil War broke out, young Robert Henry Hendershot was determined to join the fight. Although his true age is in question, he was probably about twelve when, in the fall of 1861, a company from Hendershot's town left the state and headed to the front with Hendershot tagging along behind. The officers repeatedly sent him home, but he was undaunted. Hendershot eventually joined Company B, 9th Michigan Infantry. In a skirmish at Murfreesboro, Tenn., he was captured and sent to Camp Chase, Ohio, to await exchange, but slipped away and re-enlisted in the 8th Michigan Infantry on Aug. 19, 1862, just in time for the Battle of Fredericksburg. There he went house to house, helping to rout Confederates. In one house he encountered a Rebel with a shotgun, but Hendershot was able to force the man's surrender. He then personally escorted his prisoner to the Lacy House (Chatham), where he presented him to Gen. Ambrose Burnside. Hendershot remained at the front and was slightly wounded two days later in the Union attacks on Marye's Heights. As a result, he was discharged on Dec. 27, and his fame spread across the country. When he reached Washington, he was hailed as a hero, dining with President Lincoln and appearing as a guest at both houses of Congress. Later, when visiting New York, Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune presented Hendershot with a beautiful new drum. Capitalizing on the boy's popularity, showman Phineas T. Barnham engaged Hendershot to play his drum at Barnham's museum. In the years following the Civil War, a poem and a play were written about Hendershot, extolling his courage as the "Drummer Boy of the Rappahannock." This exceptional full-length image features Hendershot in full uniform, leaning on the fancy drum given him by Horace Greeley, and holding a large flag. Minor wear. Fine condition. An excellent addition to any Civil War collection!

Sold: $1,553.50

Emmett, Drummer, Wrote "Dixie" and Seminal Drummer's Manual, "Bruce & Emmett's Drummers and Fifers Guide" (1862)

EMMETT, DANIEL DECATUR (1815-1904). Am. composer. Wrote "Dixie" and other popular songs. Born in Mt. Vernon, Ohio. He began his career as a drummer in military bands then joined the Virginia Minstrels, singing and playing the banjo. Later, he was a member of Bryant's Minstrels. He wrote the music and words to "Dixie" in 1859 and it was performed for the first time in N.Y. on April 4, 1859. The song was an immediate hit and it was adopted as a Southern fighting song during the Civil War (even though Emmett was a Northerner). His other songs, Old Dan Tucker, The Road to Richmond, and others enjoyed great favor for many years, but were all ultimately eclipsed by "Dixie". The word "Dixie" is a nostalgically regarded Am. paradise in the South. The origin of the word Dixie is obscure. ALS, 4.75" x 6.5", Mt. Vernon, Ohio, Oct. 3rd, 1898. Boldly penned, 1 full page, to "My Dear Mary," in full: "I enclose you $2.00, and that is all I can spare you today, as I got no money from New York today.* I hope everything is all right. I cannot think of anything more to say at this time. My love to you all, from your affectionate husband, Daniel D. Emmett." Pristine. Daniel Decatur Emmett material is among the scarcest of all Americana autographs. This is the first and only such piece we have personally seen on the market the past forty years. "Dixie", the immortal Civil War song, has come to mean a vanished society and way of life in the Old South, which is gone forever." A museum quality autograph. Handsomely framed with sheet music for "Dixie", and a 4x6 confederate flag. Framed in heavy gold leaf frame with brass plaque engraved "Daniel Decatur Emmett, author of Dixie, (1815-1904)". Overall size approx. 28" x 18". A striking display piece. *New York is where all his songs, including Dixie, were published and from whence he received royalties. (Illustrated below) Net to all....[10393].......+.....$2995.00

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sempf & Ottes Drum (NYC)

A tidy package here with the drum going along with a nice pair of metal capped old drumsticks.

Birdseye maple snare drum measuring 11 1/2" in height and 14 3/4" in diameter. Body presents handpainted shield and trophy motif with paint decorated rims. Interior of body presents "Sempf & Ottes, 209/211 Grand St., New York" makers label. Top drumskin head exhibits small tear. Sold with 14" pair of nickel capped drumsticks.

eBay seller alderferauction( 2438)* let this one (eBay no. 350093721437) go at $850.00 to a "LiveAuctionFloorBidder" who edged out a respectable $750.00 eBay bid from n***r( 78) placed 8 days in advance of the live auction.

OPINION: And that's the problem with the eBay-live auction mix: eBayers don't stand a chance in a mixed eBay-live auction. The reason: The live auctions use eBayers to make a floor or a starting point for their live auctions and then continue the auction on from there.

(Sure, often eBayers can participate by phone or Internet but eBayers generally don't have that luxury. eBayers use eBay because of its convenience -- make a bid, and leave it alone, like a silent auction. But when mixed with a live auction, eBayers are put to a substantial disadvantage -- they remain "silent" but compete with "vocal" live bidders. There's really no competition.)

We eBayers are suckers if we think for a moment that we are going to snag a prize at live auction against a live bidder. It's just not going to happen. So, my advice is don't do it. Don't let the auction houses use eBayers as shills to pump up prices (and commissions) on live auctions.

Auctioneers should be required to pick a mode. Live auctioneers should be required by eBay to make a choice: either go with the eBay market, which is broad, essentially fair and accessible to millions, or hold a live auction. But don't abuse eBayers by dangling product just out of reach and then using their bids as a floor from which to start the real auction live.

To combine the two modes of auction only hurts eBayers who have little chance of actually winning such an auction against a live bidder, whether from the floor, telephone or Internet.

And that's my opinion!

*Alderfer Auction Company
501 Fairgrounds Road
Hatfield, PA United States 19440

Henry Ollendorf Drum, NYC

eBay seller tinsign( 4699) described this rare drum as follows:

Large wood snare drum with star decoration at wind hole, fancy gold design around each rim, rope bindings and snare strings, measures 15” tall x 17” diameter, original label inside reads Henry Oldendorf, Maker of Bass & Snare Drums, 219 Centre Street, NY, NY, missing one rim hook and strings are frayed, original skins, top is good and bottom skin has a tear about 3”.

eBay buyer frodnedlo( 960) won the eBay auction for this item (no. 230288671624) at $545.00 edging out veteran j***j( 439), who mounted the only serious competition, by a mere $10, as well as another four bidders who weighed in at the bargain basement level.

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.

Sempf & Ottes Drum with Handpainted Eagle, Shield, Flags and Cannon

eBay item no. 350093721437 offered by alderferauction( 2422) and described as follows:

Birdseye maple snare drum measuring 11 1/2" in height and 14 3/4" in diameter. Body presents handpainted shield and trophy motif with paint decorated rims. Interior of body presents "Sempf & Ottes, 209/211 Grand St., New York" makers label. Top drumskin head exhibits small tear. Sold with 14" pair of nickel capped drumsticks.

J. C. Haynes & Co. Drum (Child Size)

Appearing as eBay item no. 110286580652 for sale by hotrodster( 1586) is this fine example of a John C. Haynes drum, ca. mid-19th century. (Click on the photos to expand.)

The photos, when expanded, are clear images of the interior paper label, snare mechanism, nails along shell seam and other design features.

For other examples of drums by this maker, see:

John C. Haynes (Boston) Eagle Drum

Comparison of Unknown Drum with 1863 John Haynes Drum

9th Mass Infantry Drum by Haynes, Boston

Boy Size "John C. Haynes" Rope Drum Has Clean Label But Poor Artwork

Probable Abner Stevens Shell (1820) But Nothing Else

Sold recently on eBay (item no. 200243436864) to r***n( 99) for $450 by kenfarmerauctions( 910) and described as follows:

Civil War Era Wooden Drum
Circa 1820. Wooden drum made in Pittsfield, Mass. Family history relates Elijah Ogle, b.1833, Carroll Co., Virginia, carried the drum with the 63rd Confederate Infantry. He was in battles in Murfreesboro, TN; Franklin, TN; Shiloh; Saltville, VA; Marion, VA. Restrung. Replaced heads. Wood has a good dry surface. 15 7/8" x 16 1/2".

This drum shouts out "Abner Stevens" by its date and location of manufacture and its signature tack pattern. The heads and ears are obviously replaced and the rope is probably replaced as well. Even the counterhoops look too good to have seen much service, but the shell looks original.

The absence of snares and a snare mechanism is consistent with drums of early 19th century manufacture as the snares were often "pressed" into place and tightened with the heads, requiring only a leather butt plate (which appears to be partially visible in one of the photos) at the butt end to prevent the snare from pulling through that edge of the bottom counterhoop as they would have been pulled tight during head tightening.

The military carry (the metal attachment to the upper counterhoop to which is inexplicably tied the drag line -- not correct), however, is an anacrhonism and should be removed. It looks as if the counterhoops, including the military carry, were salvaged from a 1940s Ludwig or something similar and used on this drum. Thus, the only thing that I think is original about this drum is the shell. Neverthless, a good buy by an astute drum collector. Congratulations to r***n for making the purchase.

Horncollector Adds Another Old Drum to His Inventory

Sold recently on eBay (item no. 170246039269) by kenfarmerauctions( 910) to horncollector( 1169) for $700 and described as follows:

Civil War Era Drum & Drumsticks
Mid 1800's. Drum belonging to George A. Bridge, Civil War veteran, Morrisville, VT. Period blue paint. Together with the Bridge family bible with genealogical entries from 1816-1960. With original Civil War drumsticks, with carving "CM.B", 17" long. Drum has replaced heads. Leather cover of bible is dry and flaking. 16 3/4" x 15 3/4".

Now Horncollector (see his website at has acquired a few drums similar to this drum over the past year or less and those drums now appear on his site for sale.

1861 Dated Snare Drum by A.D. Stevens

Not sold (apparently overpriced for the market at the time with starting bid of $875) on eBay (item no. 260274394477) by jerseyrebel( 1247), and described as follows:

Civil War period snare drum made by famed maker A.D. Stevens of Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

There is a wonderful label in very nice condtion inside the drum. What makes it even better is at the bottom of the label in period ink we find, "Sept 1861" I've never seen a snare with a dated label. I was able to get 2 photos thru the peephole to give you an idea of how it looks.

The drum itself measures 15 3/4" in diameter and is 14" high. The red hoops are great. The rope is not original and has one period ear remaining. The top head has a slit as you can see from my photo. Bottom is fine and has some pencil swirls.

FYI I photographed the page from Directory of American Maker by Bazelon & McGuin showing the history of the A.D. Stevens Co.

What's good about this drum?

A clear, intact readable interior paper label with an handwritten ink inscription indicating a date of manufacture in September, 1861. Hello? That is outstanding. Although Abner Stevens reportedly died in 1842 (see attached image of entry in "Directory of American Maker by Bazelon & McGuin", this nevertheless could have been, and appears to have been made in or by his shop.

Nails (possibly copper but cannot tell from photograph) indicating possible early to mid-1800's construction (according to another collection nails and tacks became less frequently used when glue with sufficient bonding strength became more available in the 1860s and later).

Rope looks handmade, not machine-made clothesline rope.

Abner Stevens -- The Other Drum Maker

Although drums by Eli Brown and family get a lot of attention, a bit north (in Pittsfield, Massachusetts) contemporary Abner Stevens was doing well making and selling drums.

Early in 1809, Abner Stevens removed the drum-making business, which, he bad for some years carried on at Hancock, to Pittsfield, where he built a shop on North street, between Fenn street and the Boston and Albany railroad. Under the militia-laws, [189] which then existed in all the states, every town had at least one military company; and the most essential of all its equipments was the drum. The captain's sword or the private's musket might be supplied by some imperfect substitute; but a drum, and a passably good one, could not be dispensed with. Mr. Stevens made a good rattling instrument, and his business could not but thrive. The war added the national government to the number of his patrons; and, being industrious and economical, he made a handsome fortune. Under the perpetual incitement of the martial music of his own manufacture, he was of course an ardent war-democrat. The History of Pittsfield, (Berkshire County,) Massachusetts, From the Year 1800 to the Year 1876 ... by Joseph E. A. Smith, C.W. Bryan & Co. Springfield, pub. 1876, p. 188, 189.

... Reuben D. Wollison married on August 1, 1852, Mary Stevens, a native of Pittsfield. Her birth took place at the corner of South and West streets, where the new Wendell House now stands, May 6, 1827. Her father, Abner Stevens, kept a general store, and he also manufactured drums, which he sent to all parts of the world. He acquired a large estate in Pittsfield which fell to his heirs. ... Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of Berkshire County, Massachusets, by Rollin Hillyer Cooke, vol. II, The Lewis Publishing Co., New York, p. 421.


A portion of a yahoo group thread titled New drummers to hobby in yahoo group "18cMusic · 18th Century Field Musick" attributed to joewhitney1:
As for the early 19th century, here are the US Quarter Master / Purveyors specifications of February 1812 detailing the construction of US drums. I have an 1821 16x16 made by Abner Stevens, He sold drums made to these specifications to the US army:

- Diameter of the Shell from 15 ¾ to 16 Inches made of white oak with 7 Inch Cap [sic], 79 brass nails, depth from 14 ½ to 15 Inches, about 1/8 Inch thick

- Brace hoops 1 ¾ Inches deep & 3/8 Inches thick made of hicory, rounded on the top, flesh hoops 1 7/8 Inches wide & full ¼ Inches thick, made of hicory.

- Inside hoops ¼ Inchs wide full ¼ Inches thick

- Batter head Calfskin, Snare head Sheep skin, Snares made of Sheeps gut well finished.

- Cord 11 ¼ yards long well finished

- 10 Braces 6 ½ Inches long, 1 7/8 Inches wide

- Drum Carriage 1 ¼ Yards white worsted web 1 ½ Inches wide finished with leather & button.

- Drum Sticks 18 Inches long of heavy west India wood,

- Osnabrig [osnaburglinen] Cases made to draw with a Small cord of hemp or flax.

So 16x16 was probably the most popular size for the typical drum maker, and surviving Mexican War US regimental drums show 16x16 was the government standard by then. But you also had big drums still out there, like Eli Brown types.

Patriotic Shield Drum Head Tensioning Device

Described by eBay seller georgiadigger( 348) as follows:

Brass patriotic shield, drum head tensioning device. Similar to one pictured on page 39 of Howard Crouch's "Civil War Artifacts, A Guide for the Historian".

This was eBay item no. 130247758735, purchased by deo*vindice( 858) for $50.03 (outbidding me by 3 cents -- congratulations).

Small European Drum with Capped Sticks

The snare mechanism on this drum is decidedly European (possibly French or Swiss) and bears initials which appear to be "B.H."

Sold recently on eBay (item no. 350082700013) to standeasy( 570) for $250 by americancolonial( 3089) who described the drum as follows:

In this lot I have to offer a very rare to find civil war period wood snare drum. These drums are very rare to find today. This one will not disappoint. The drum is well made though I think would not be considered a high end period drum in its day. The sticks are short and appear to have been cut down from their normally long size. The skins are in excellant condition and not cracked or torn. The snare is missing as you can see in the photos. That is not a surprise as the drummers were for the most part very young men. The drum measures 9 1/4 inches in height and 12 inches in diameter. It shows good use and age.

Bird's Eye Maple Drum with Stenciled Eagle and Banner

Sold to (or should I say "stolen by"?) cw61848( 22) on eBay (item no. 250275931643) for $127.53 is this lovely bird's eye maple drum which I am guessing is from the early 20th century.

The snare mechanism, the snares which appear to be cloth and original, and the leather snare butt plate point to that time period. And the striped counterhoops looks like someting that would have post-dated the stenciled counterhoops seen on drums of the late 19th century.

As always, if you have better information or a different opinion, we would be pleased to have it and to publish it.

The eBay seller (josefjay( 71)) described it as follows:
Here is an old rope drum with no label. The drum measures 16" round and 13' tall. There is an eagle (painted or a decal - I'm not sure) displayed on one side. The wood appears to be birdseye maple and looks to be in good condition. I think it will probably clean up nicely. The skins are very dirty and the bottom skin has two small tears. It has braided snares, and I'm not sure what material they are made of. The ropes are also dirty, as are the leather tighteners. The leather is pretty dry. The metal parts are dull but there is no rust. I know absolutely nothing about rope drums, and do not know the age of this drum, so please look at the pictures carefully and bid accordingly.

Returned from Vacation

Sorry for the temporary absence from the blog and the temporary lack of new material. The press of work and a much-enjoyed vacation kept me from attending to this blog for a month or so. But, we're back. Here's a photo from my vacation (the leader of three male lions called "The Mombo Boys" whose territory includes Chief's Camp, Botswana in the Okavanga Delta). See my photos from that trip.

P.R. Winn, Drummaker

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