Saturday, June 20, 2009

Old Snare Drum with an 1882 Patent

eBay Seller svenskaboy( 2449)'s eBay posting guru musta been smokin' some of dat weed when (s)he posted this relatively unremarkable metal drum with a starting price of $1,960.00 as eBay item no. 220438415484.

But, in fairness, it's a free country and a seller can ask whatever (s)he wants. Sometimes a fish comes along and takes the bait. See, e.g., "Caveat Emptor -- 'Civil War' Drum Questioned by Reader", this blog, January 29, 2009, reporting the sale of what is believed to be a $100 Pakistani-made Eagle knock-off for $1,350. Barnum said it best, something about a certain type of person being "... born every minute".

This drum, at least, appears to be the real thing, probably about 100 years old.

The label is interesting too. Named "The New Departure Drum", it bears a partial label from "[missing' Music Co." with a Detroit street address (missing).


This antique snare drum was found in a pile of discarded items in the garage at a Kansas City estate sale. The shell measures 15 [inches] in diameter and is 6 [inches] deep. The shell is made of roll formed steel. The rims are wood. It has six tensioning lugs made of iron rod and copper rim clamps and a copper tensioning center nut. The snares are of twisted cow or horse hide. There are remnants of both cowhide heads. The snare adjustment is by a raised thumb screw (see closeup photos). Inside the shell are two original paper labels. The first reads "THE NEW DEPARTURE DRUM, Patented by C. S. Knapp, February 28, 1882". The second paper label is incomplete, but it appears to be from a music store in Detroit. The only online reference I can find for "The New Departure Drum" is from a 1893 newspaper article [see link below] pertaining to Lyon & Healy's (music company) exhibition awards at the Chicago World's Fair.

Considering this drum 125 +/- age, it remains in very good, restorable condition. A great project for a serious collector of percussion instruments.

Because this drum is such a rare example of the transition from rope to metal rod tensioning, I canĂ­t find any guidelines to suggest its value, however the lack of information also supports the notion of it be rare.

The New Departures Drum is referred to in a newspaper article in the New York Times, LYON & HEALY'S TRIUMPH.; The Big Chicago Music House Given Twelve World's Fair Diplomas", page 8, September 28, 1893.

And an illustrated advertisement (not available) was accompanied by this descriptive information "*THE NEW DEPARTURE DRUMS* are made with patent double acting rods and folding knee rest. Light, substantial and handsome. Used in the best Bands and Orchestras. Unequaled for tone, surpass all others in finish and appearance. If nearest Music dealer does not keep them, write to us for Illustrated Catalogue.
*LYON & HEALY, Chicago, Ill.*

From that, and from the fact that the labels with the drum's name and the seller are separate, it appears that the drum was made by Lyon & Healy (Chicago) and sold by a musical instruments retailer in Detroit which affixed its own label to the inside of the drum directly under the manufacturer's label.

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