Friday, March 6, 2015

Charles Hubbard, Drum Emblazonment Artist

Charles Hubbard is credited with painting the emblazonments on several drums discussed in this blog:
But who was Charles Hubbard?  (Images from

The National Lancers with the Reviewing Officers on the Boston Common. 1837. Charles Hubbard, American, 1801–1876. Lithograph, hand-colored. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

And there is an article on Wikipedia.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Cleaning an Old Drum

This is likely to draw a storm of comments, agreeing and disagreeing, about the best way to clean an old drum.  But here goes:

A reader emailed saying that he'd been asked to restore this Civil War era drum for a local historical association.  The drum carries a label "H. Deming" of Ohio.

"I just returned from Cooperman up in Bellows Falls, VT.  I spent the PM of the 22nd working with Jim Ellis, and we made major progress toward an appropriate restoration.

"The drum came to me with two sets of rope hooks(of 3 mixed designs, including a carry hook); snare strainer with wire snares, one skin head mounted to one flesh hoop (punctured & badly warped), the other flesh hoop (broken & distorted, but no skin), heart-shaped leather ears (each stamped twice with a circular star design), and two different styles of threaded metal tensioners.

"The drum now has two new flesh hoops and Pakistani goat skins (the extant pcs. will be archived), and I am now about to add some minor finishing touches.  We restored it as a rope-tension drum despite its rather short stature (to utilize the leather ears); both sets of metal tensioners--perhaps one or both used in later modifications of the drum--will also be archived.

"There is a brass grommet that fits the vent hole, though I think bone might have been more often used for this purpose."

Here are a few photos:

I wrote: "There is a restorer's wood cleaning product called "What I Use".  I've used it on old, dried out wood drums with much success."  See

He replied: "Thanks, hadn't heard of this product.  But, I never use any oil-based cleaning product on anything of value; the oil component always darkens with oxidation over time.  It is very difficult (actually, nearly impossible) to safely remove or rejuvenate in the future.  For general cleaning, I most often use an alkaline soap named Vulpex, in only a 1-2% conc. solution.  It is miscible in both water and mineral spirits, and rinses cleanly.

Then, all I do is apply a paste wax (or, if the finish is real bad, a mineral spirits soluble varnish such as Gamar Picture Varnish (see link, below)."

A Study of African-American Drum and Bugle Corps and Their Communities

“I THINK WE SOUNDED BLACK!” SPACE AND COMMUNITY IN BLACK DRUM AND BUGLE CORPS By Jamil Jorge Thesis submitted in partial fulfillment ...