Friday, November 21, 2008

Hollowed-out Log Drum Used by Confederate Drummer

Now, this is not the prettiest drum we've ever seen. In fact, it may be the ugliest. But it shows ingenuity and determination -- classic American virtues. Sure, it doesn't exhibit the fine craftsmanship of a Wm. S. Tompkins drum (far from it). Rather, it looks like the work of someone more like a backwoodsman hard-pressed to make a drum, large on effort, short on skill. Nevertheless, the fundamentals are there and the drum appears to have some decent provenance (see below).


Today, I attended an auction at the Harlowe-Powell Auction Gallery in Charlottesville, VA and had the opportunity to see in person the alleged Confederate drum for sale (listed as ebay item 120329967170 [offered by harlowepowell( 620)]). What was most interesting about this drum was the fact that the shell was made from a hollowed-out log. From the photos you can see that the grain runs vertically. But since there is absolutely no overlap seam, it would be impossible for the drum to be steam-bent or veneered. The shell was about 1/2" thick, which made the drum unusually heavy. There were no snares on the drum and it came with a set of drumsticks which appeared to be hand carved rather than lathe-turned.

The family story states that the drum was sent home with the owner's body, but a conflicting account (perhaps from official records) gives a more logical explanation of how the drum made it back to the soldier's home.

"William D Land - Enlisted 8/15/61, Age 25, Captured 7/9/64 while home on furlough, Died 12/25/64 at Camp Douglas, Ill of small pox, Buried at Oak Woods Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois"

"according to family history, the drum belonged to William D. Land, Phillip's Legion Georgia infantry company E". He was killed at battle of Chickamauga, GA, and the drum was sent home with his body. 15" H, 16" Dia., as found condition."

eBay reports an inquiry and response concerning the drum which fetched $2,550:

Q: We have some possible interest in item # 346 (drum) coming up at auction on Nov 21. How good is the family provenance on the item? The information I have on William D. Long in Co. E of Phillips Legion Infantry says that he enlisted Aug 15, 1861, age 25, captured Jul 9, 1864 while home on furlough, died Dec 25, 1864 at Camp Douglas, IL of smallpox, buried in Chicago. Sam Thomas Curator T.R.R. Cobb House 175 Hill Street Athens, GA 30601 706.369.3513 phone 706.354.1054 fax Nov-14-08

A: The consignor purchased the drum at the auction of the personal property of Mr. & Mrs. C. D. Panter on June 19, 1979 in North Canton, OH. Mrs. Panter said the drum belonged to her uncle, William D. Land. Perhaps this was misunderstood, and the name is Long instead of Land. We have a clipping of the announcement of the auction sale from the Akron Beacon Journal which has as a lead item "Civil War Confederate drun used in the Civil War".


Sales History
Date/Pre-Sale Estimate/Lot No./Amount
21 November 2008$500-$1,000/346/Pending

Harlowe-Powell Auction
2109 India Rd
Charlottesville, VA 22901
PHONE: 434-292-2904
FAX: 434-295-1978

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