Thursday, November 26, 2015

Yellow & Red Liberty Snare Marching Drum Unknown Vintage Military?

Yellow & Red Liberty Snare Marching Drum Unknown Vintage Military?

This came out of a military collection, but we're not 100% sure it's military issued.

This is an old drum. We're not sure how old it is, but our research indicates it may be manufactured by the liberty musical instrument company circa 1926.

Top rim is half off of the drum. It might have been reskinned at one time. should be able to be re-set. Ropes are unknown age. Might be original, but we're not sure. Leather pieces look original.

Paint shows its age with cracking and chipping But appears original.

Bottom skin and snares look and feel original.

Drum measures approx. 15'' across by 12'' tall.

CFD - A Civil War Surprise

Note from Matt Alling, Author: I know that it has been several weeks since my last post but I  couldn’t decide which drum to write about next.  The problem with a drummer/drum historian cataloging an entire museum's drum collection, and writing about it while doing so, is that every drum is potentially the next story.

I have been debating for weeks about which of several drums to write about and it came down to which drum revealed the most complete story first.  This drum was the winner and I hope is one that will encourage many of you to make the trip to the Museum of Fifers and Drummers in Ivoryton, Connecticut to see the collection in person.


CFD - A Civil War Surprise
by Matt Alling
CT Pro Percussion
203-228-0488 - Phone
MFD Drum #14 (Company collection number, not label number) had been listed simply as “Brown Drum” with no additional information other than it had been played by "Alex Smith".  The drum measures 16.5” x 14.5” and is actually a B.E.&M. Brown drum dated 1822, Bloomfield Connecticut.  The drum has a nice early Brown tack pattern on it that I have seen previously on several B.E.&M. Brown Drums.
On taking the drum down from the shelf for inspection and cataloging I found a list of names signed on the top head of the drum:
Bert Cahl
Mary Wilke
Zack Lemoor (?)
Walter H. Greaszy (?)
And about 6 other names that I can’t decipher. 
Flipping the drum over, there is writing all over the bottom head and a tremendous history and some writing that I never expected.  Right near the snare bed the following writing appears:

William K. Bunnell
Co. B. 27 Reg C.V.
Aug. 23 – 1862 (?) July 27  1863
Research revealed a roster for the 27th Regiment, an infantry division based out of New Haven Connecticut. William Bunnell was a private in the regiment and the regiment appears to have been active for only 9 months.

I should note that while William Bunnell is listed as a private, he  is not listed as one of the musicians.  The one issue I have with the information that I found on the drum is that on military archive and genealogy sites the unit is listed as being formed in October 1862, but the writing on the drum indicates August.
Service includes defense of Washington D.C. until November 1862, advance to Falmouth, Virginia, November 7-19, Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia, December 12-15, “Mud March” January 20-24,  1863, at Falmouth Until April 27th, Chancellorsville Campaign April 27- May 6, Battle of Chancellorsville May 1-5, Gettysburg Pennsylvania, Campaign June 11- July 24, Battle of Gettysburg July 1-3 and mustered out on July 27, 1863. During this time the regiment lost 4 officers and 42 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded in combat, and 22 men lost to disease.

In addition to that information, there is a lot of additional writing on the bottom head that helps add to the provenance of the drum, including a history of the drum with the Bunnell family and beyond:
“This drum was used by Russell Bunnell of Seymour and later New Haven Conn. Also used by his son Frank S. Bunnell of New Haven Conn. Used by Bunnell Drum Corps Later and by Louis Bunnell of Oneita NY.”
Eventually the drum ended up in the hands of Alex Smith who played with Chester Drum Corps and was then sold, as noted on the bottom of the drum:

“This drum was bought from the collection of Alex Smith of North Haven, Conn. 1958 by Bruce Shepard West Haven, Conn.”

The drum is now on permanent loan by Bruce Shepard to the museum, where it will continue to be displayed for as long as the museum exists.  To say that I was surprised to find this information right on the head and no information in the archives would be an understatement.  The drum will be taking its place as a true centerpiece in the collection going forward.

Note: For more information about this and all of the drums in the collection, please visit or contact the Museum of the Company of Fifers and Drummers.  Please remember to support the museum and make a donation when you visit or through the site by becoming a member of the company.

See the Museum's website.

By Matt Alling
CT Pro Percussion
203-228-0488 - Phone

Medieval Field Drums - Request for Comments

A reader emailed the below.  If you can add anything to this conversation, please email us at


Dear Field

My name is Harry and I'm a medieval reenactor in England. My period of interest is the 12th Century in England and Britain as a whole and, although I'm aware that our periods of interest don't overlap much, I have come across an image recently that piqued my interest and I'm hoping that you might be able to help me in my enquiries.

Please find attached fol 9v from the Morgan Bible, a 13th century bible currently in the Morgan collection.

As you can see in the lower right panel of the manuscript, two of the infantry depicted are carrying what appear to be frame drums.

I've done a little bit of reading into the subject and it would appear that when western knights went on crusade, they encountered Saracen armies that used Timpani to scare their horses. They then brought these drums back with them and used them during warfare, presumably for coordinating their infantry. However, the drums depicted in this panel from the Morgan Bible don't look much like Timpani to me, they look more like Tabor, the ancestor of the modern snare drum.

Basically, I was wondering if you had any knowledge or ideas either related to my search for information or where to continue looking.


P.s. the colour of the drum shells matching the colour of the drummer's helmet looks to me to be a very early version of regimental markings on drum shells, which is *so cool*.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Civil War Period Snare Drum & Drum Sticks

Civil War Period Snare Drum & Drum Sticks. Measures 11" high with a 14" diameter, maple shell and loops. Excellent hide heads and snares. Interior label reads "Made by White Brothers 86 Tremont Street Boston."  Four leather tighteners are present. Matching pair of rosewood drum sticks which measure 14 7/8".

Estimate: $700 - up.

Heritage Auctions, Lot 47418, Dec. 12, 2015.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Spirit of '76 Figure

Spirit of '76 Figure

Polychromed white metal mounted on a drum base figure 35" high, overall 42" high late 19th century CONDITION REPORT: original surface with some flaking rubs and blistering, paint approximately 90%.

Fairfield Auction

Name :  November 2015 Last Chance Auction
Auctioneer :  Fairfield Auction, LLC
Type :  Online-Only Auction
Date(s) :  11/18/2015 - 11/22/2015

November 18th to November 22nd Items will begin closing at 5 pm on November 22nd
Preview Date/Time :  Call to preview in person.
Checkout Date/Time :  Payment and pick-up will be November 18th - 22th, 11 am to 4 pm.
Location :  707 Main Street
Monroe, CT 06468
Buyer Premium :  20% Buyer's Premium
Description : 
Last Chance Auction! November 18th to 22nd

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Really Old School Drum Corps History

A Drum Corps History Podcast by Ron Allard, originally published Dec. 5, 2011.

"The roots of the drum corps activity in North America can be traced back to before the American Revolution."

Episode 12: Old School
Links to material used in this episode:

P.R. Winn, Drummaker

An article by W. Lee Vinson, author and publisher of and . For Lee's story about ...