Sunday, June 28, 2015

Notes of a Conversation with Leo Brennan, Sutler

"I've been In F&D for the last 50 years so I can’t help but knowing a bit about fifes and drums." So began Leo Brennan's story of how he came to acquire three Brown drums.

He told me about his first drum, vintage 1837.  It all began last February, 2009 when as a member of Mattatuck Drum Corps he was first to arrive at the corps' clubhouse.

"Some of the drums they play are Brown drums.  There was a card on the door of the loft (clubhouse) one night that said, “If interested in a Brown drum, let me know."  Leo handed it in to the president. He spoke about it at the meeting.

One of the members complained that they had done business with the person who left the card and that he wants too much money, they don’t need the drum

The drum corps passed on the opportunity. Four or five weeks later Leo expressed interest in the drum and took the card

Brennan said that Matthew (Sunny) Lyons, 80ish, is an expert and can still play very well.  He was in the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy at the end of WWII and the Korean War.  Matt and Leo looked at the drum and Matt recommended buying it.   Leo did so and got the history.  The drum had been part of the Alex Smith collection, an apple farmer from Northford, CT.  In 1897 he won the CFDA championship.  He loved Brown drums, and had at least 8 of them.   He would hand rub the drums during the winter to give them a luster (before modern distractions like television).

Leo never met Alex Smith but heard stories. He would insist that visitors who could play do so with him.

Leo made sure to say that the fourth Saturday in August, sponsored by the Westbrook Drum Corps at Exit 65 on I-95, Westbrook, CT, there is a 45 corps muster, a lot of good corps.  A jam session starts on the preceding Friday night

Leo mentioned that there are articles about him and his drums, including his bass drums.

Leo said that he does a lot of research in the library and found a photo of an Eli Brown drum at an antique shop in New Hampshire.

He phoned the auctioneer.  Leo faxed a bid but forgot to sign it

Leo won the drum (was outbid by several hundred dollars but with an unsigned bid).  The drum was owned by Griswold who sent it for repair in 1948 to Hubbard in Massachusetts.  Hubbard put new rims, rope and ears and coat of varnish, removed the snare assembly and did not replace it. That’s how he acquired his second Brown drum.

Then, talking with me, he became aware of the 1809 Brown drum (he had thought the oldest Brown was 1810 - a woman at a muster arrived with a black plastic drum).  I directed Leo to Barry Glick who had the drum for sale.

Leo spoke of Jack Haynes, an electrician, whose aunt owned the drum.  The drum had been in an attic for 40-50 years.  When she passed away, Haynes was the only heir and he acquired the drum.  That’s how Barry Glick came into the picture (a computer guy, middle man).

Leo came to an agreement with the owner. The seller asked for $3,500, Leo rejected it and the seller backed right off

Jack Haynes delivered the drum to Leo who bought it for $3,000.

Leo is now selling his 1837 Brown rum on eBay.  His son is taking care of the eBay transaction.  If it does not sell, he will pull it off eBay for 6 months.  Then he will try to sell his 1829 Brown drum.

Leo said that he has measured more than 100 Brown snare and bass drums.

He mentioned an 1823 Brown drum that he saw at a Nathan Hale Fife and Drum Muster (Homestead).

He has all the data sheets

Leo also noted that Sue Cifaldi has also done a lot of work. They plan to get together and compare notes.

Leo mentioned "American Drums of War 1607-2007", by George Carroll -- $40.0, and "The Browns of Wintonbury, Makers of Brown Drums" -- $12.5.

Leo's drums has have 16”, 17” and 18” diameters.

His 1837 drum is playable (but no snare assembly).


Leo Brennan
Ye Olde Connecticut Peddler

Hi Folks,

I've been in the business of sutlering for over 20 years and have met some of the best people around who have become good friends. 

I attend over 30 events each year and you can always find a good selection of the things you need or want on display. If by chance, you do not see what you want, ask or call me at (203) 245-9543, after 2 pm, Monday through Thursday....Fridays, I'm usually on the way to a weekend event, so when you are at an event, be sure to look for Ye Colonial Sutler's Shop on Sutler's Row.

If you would like, I will gladly send you a list of events I will be attending this season. If you have an event you would like me to attend, send me an invite and/ or call me. If possible, I will include it in my schedule.

Unfortunately, with prices as they are today, it is necessary for me to charge the sum of $3.00 per catalog.

VERY Partial List of Items available:
  • Audio Tapes & CD's
  • Books
  • Clay Pipes
  • Garters
  • Instruments
  • Leather Goods
  • Mugs
  • Rifle and Musket Accessories
  • Stockings
  • Slings, cases, etc... 
Ye Colonial Sutler's Shop
 Leo Brennan, Sutler
c/o 49 Nortontown Rd.
Madison, CT 06443

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