Monday, May 25, 2009

Buck Soistman Shell Assembled by Reamer (1979)

A Seller from Watertown, CT is offering eBay item no. 180360356867 for a Buy-it-Now price of $6,750 (or make an offer) with this description:

This is the last Grand Army of the Republic field drum built by the famous drum maker Charles "Buck" Soistman of Baltimore, MD. The original shell, ears, and hoops, were all made by Mr. Soistman prior to his passing in I believe 1975. It measures 17x21. The shell and parts were passed on to W.H. Reamer of Bromall, PA by Mr. Soistman's widow Marie in 1976. Mr. Reamer continued Mr. Soistman's tradition of producing high quality drums until his recent passing. I'm not sure if his son or anyone else intends to carry on the tradition of making these fine quality instruments. I know the Cooperman Fife and Drum Corps of Bellows Falls, VT makes a fine reproduction of this drum, but it is not an original Soistman/Reamer. It's much like playing on a piano. A Yamaha is a Yamaha, but a Steinway is in a class all by itself. In 1977 I notified Mr. Reamer of my interest in obtaining a Grand Army of the Republic drum. I asked Mr. Reamer if Soistman had any remaining shells or parts in his inventory. Mr. Reamer stated to me that Mr. Soistman left one remaining Grand Army shell, some matching hoops, ears, strainer, and original four strand Irish linen rope. I immediately asked Mr. Reamer to build me a drum from those exact parts. It took Mr. Reamer two years to complete the project, and I took possession of this instrument in August of 1979. The drum also has the original calf skin heads and cat-gut snares. I never converted it over to plastic heads, because I wanted to retain the sound quality of an authentic Army field drum. Inside the drum are two builders labels. The first is from Soistman's Rolling Drum Shop. It states "This shell was made by Buck Soistman and came to me when his wife Marie passed the shop on to me in 1976." The second builders label is from Drummers Service. It states "This original Soistman shell was finished and assembled. The basic artwork was done by me with (name deleted) completing the eagle's head, and applying the intricate detailing and shading. Throughout the design assisted by (name deleted) Signed W.H. Reamer. This is the same style drum used by the U.S. Army Band (Pershings Own), U.S. Army Band Herald Trumpet & Drums, and the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps in Washington, D.C. Prior to "Buck" Soistman the Grand Army Drum was made for the Army Band by Gus Moeller. It was his drums that were played in JFK's funeral. One of the drums played during the funeral is on display at the Smithsonian's Museum of American History. The traditional Grand Army of the Republic Drum used by the Army Band has red hoops with a white scroll work. This drum has solid "Bristol" blue hoops. I chose this style hoop because it was used by the Connecticut Yanks Fife and Drum Corps of Bristol, Connecticut which folded in 1976. I was a member of this corps and tried to obtain a drum but one was not offered to me. That is how I came in contact with Mr. Reamer and obtained this drum from him. If the buyer of this fine instrument decides to paint the hoops red with white scroll work, I can arrange to place them in contact with artists who can perform this work. I am not firm on the price, and will consider all offers.Thanks for looking and sharing this story.

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