Monday, September 14, 2020

1826 (?) Brown Drum #1499 Elaborately Painted Sold for $2,600

Summary: A reader selling a Brown drum wrote for information.  There followed some lively discussion on FB and correspondence with this blog's editor (below).  Ultimately, this drum was sold on eBay for $2,605.88 (after 5 bids) under the title:


1826 Eli Brown Civil War Era Painted 34 Star Drum Wintonbury CT

Information on eBay: This is a FANTASTIC and authentic Eli Brown drum....#1499.  It's been authenticated by two different sources who are pros when it comes to Brown Drums and they found it to be genuine and made in 1826.   The paint job with 34 stars was most likely added during the Civil War (1861-1863).  I was told one of the rims is put on upside down and that's probably because when I found it someone had turned it into a side table with glass on top. 

You can read about the history of Brown drums if you Google Bloomsfield History Museum or Eli Brown Drums.

The drum measures 16" in height x 18" in diameter.   

The condition is pretty great considering its age.   The wood is in fantastic condition with no cracks, splits, chips or damage.  There is one tiny skim chip along the rim (see closeup) but that's it!   The leather slides have dried out and the reverse skin has been damaged over the years (also see closeup).  As you can see it's really in outstanding condition.

On Jul-30-20 at 10:10:52 PDT, seller added the following information:

Please note:  There are other drum enthusiasts who have messaged me that believe this drum may be a replica from the late 1800's with the Brown label added.   There are others who believe it's all original from 1826.  Some believe it may have been modified when it was painted...who knows for sure?   It appears no one can come to a concrete conclusion other than it's a fantastic drum from the 1800's and it could or could not be an authentic Eli Brown.   It's being sold "as found" and in the condition stated.

CORRESPONDENCE WITH BLOG EDITOR: A reader wrote with the following photos:

July 21, 2020, from Becky Elliott: I spoke with Ralph Schmoll who is a patron with the CT historical society and based on his research he believes this to be an authentic Eli Brown drum.   I was hoping perhaps you would know of someone other than the historical society or the Fife and Drum Society that would be interested in purchasing it?   I own an estate sale company in Buffalo, NY and this was found in the treasures of their collections while getting ready for a sale.   I was going to list it on eBay but decided to check with those in the know for interest before I posted it for sale [].  Thanks for any interest you may have.

Becky Elliott
Buffalo Nickel Estate Sales - Buffalo, NY



July 22, 2020, from Ellis Mirsky: Dear Becky, The drum is quite a find. I'd like to speak with you about what I see in the photos and what your plan is with respect to the drum.  I'd like to do some of the research concerning the painted emblazonment which could lead us to learning more about the drum's history.

Whether the emblazonment was applied pre- or post assembly could help us date the emblazonment.  Close inspection of each tack at the drum shell might reveal the answer.

The tack pattern matches signature Brown tack patterns.  Note the greater number (18) of more closely spaced tacks on the leading (left) edge of the overlapping shell than on the trailing (right) portion (13).

The apparently bone grommet is consistent with Brown drums.



July 22, 2020, from Ellis Mirsky: Dear Becky, The 30-Star Flag 39-star

The 30-star flag became the official United States flag on July 4th, 1848.  It served during 1848-1851. The Brown drum has 30 small stars, 6 stars tucked into each valley between the points of the large star. I think that's consistent with an approximate date ca. 1850 for the emblazonment.



July 22, 2020, from Ellis Mirsky: But ... I see 4 more small stars, one in each corner of the emblazonment.  A 34-star flag flew from July 4, 1861 to July 3, 1863, squarely within the period of the American Civil War.  That's consistent with the drum being made in 1836 (per your description) and painted during the Civil War.

Also, see an article "When is a brown Drum a Brown Drum?," published 12 years ago in my blog at

(Note Google lost photos from my blog but ultimately replaced all except those in pre-2010 posts. That post was pre-2010, so no photos.)



July 22, 2020, from Ellis Mirsky: Dear Becky,

Two more observations:

1. The snare mechanism is likely "after-market," added after the drum was made.

Please send close-up photos of the snare mechanism and the other (butt) end.

2. The top counter hoop is on backwards.  The metal ring affixed to the hoop (called a military carry) should be on the other side (I.e., the hoop should be rotated 180 degrees) so that when the drum is hooked up and carried, the emblazonment shows outwardly from the front.



Lively discussion on Facebook about the drum in Fife and Drum Corps Friend’s Group, started by John O'Neill has drawn 57 comments:


Can we get clear closeup where indicated?

July 22, 2020, from Ellis Mirsky: Was this shell cut down?  Looks to be missing a tack on top and bottom.


July 28, 2020, from Becky Elliott: The drum is 1826 not 1836...I was able to get a better photo once it was in my hands.   It was listed on eBay this evening at the owner's request.  Thank you for helping me with identification...much appreciated!

July 30, 2020, from Becky Elliott: [Re whether the drum was cut down.] I can't say as I'm not sure what it would look like originally.   I included measurements so perhaps that will tell?  


Recently, Bob McCarty wrote: "It seems to me that the dates just don't vibe."

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1 comment:

  1. Nowhere does anyone mention a label? Or a pastemark where a label used to be?


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