Wednesday, December 1, 2021

1922 George. B. Stone & Son "All-Weather Drum"

First advertised in 1922 as the "All-Weather Drum", George B. Stone & Son's newly introduced flagship snare drum was renamed the "Master-Model Drum" later that year. Described as a "Combination Dance and Theater Model", the All-Weather Drum was initially offered in only one size, 5 1/4" x 14". The example shown here dating from August of 1922 precedes the adoption of the Master-Model name.
1922 Geo. B. Stone & Son All-Weather Drum
There are several characteristics of the All-Weather Drum which distinguish it from the vast majority of the more than 800 Master-Models produced from the early 1920s through the late 1930s. The earliest shells such as this one are formed from single-ply maple with a series of four reinfircing rings which span the entire depth of the shell. By mid-1923 this design would give way a 3-ply, 5/8" thick maple shell which was used on all Master-Models and Separate Tension Orchestra Drums moving forward.

Geo. B. Stone Advertisement, September 1922
Geo. B. Stone & Son Advertisement, September 1922
Geo. B. Stone Advertisement, December 1922
Geo. B. Stone & Son Advertisement, December 1922

Most Stone drums of this era feature a metal badge affixed to the batter side counterhoop. Interestingly, while this drum has a makers label with a strong date stamp and serial number, it has no badge. This is likely because Stone was in the process of changing over from an older version to a newer badge which included lettering noting their recent incopration. Also, the Master-Model specific badges installed on most examples had not yet been introduced. While there are pencil markings present inside of the shell and underneath the counterhoops, they are not consistent with the numbering system later used by Stone to keep track of the total number of Master-Model drums produced.
Antique George B. Stone & Son All-Weather Drum
1922 Geo. B. Stone & Son Makers Label
The drum features an elongated, inverted version of William F. McIntosh's Patent Snare Strainer and Muffler which was standard on all Master-Model drums. The butt end seen here is patented design by Charles A. Stromberg which was used on Master-Model drums until about 1925.
Stone Patent Snare Strainer and Muffler
Charles A. Stromberg Snare Anchor
Do you have a drum made by Geo. B. Stone & Son? I would love to hear about it! Feel free to drop Lee an email at And for more on the early 20th century snare drum makers of Boston, Massachusetts please visit or follow @old_boston_drums on instagram.

Monday, November 1, 2021

Nokes & Nicolai All Metal Drum, ca. late 1910s

Boston's Nokes & Nicolai succeeded the F. E. Dodge Company in 1912 and operated until 1926 when they merged with string instrument maker Joseph Pancheco and the Liberty Rawhide Company of Chicago, Illinois to form the Liberty Musical Instrument Company. Nokes & Nicolai's primary metal shell snare drum offering, the No-Nic All Metal Drum, was introduced sometime in the mid to late 1910s and was produced into the mid 1920s.
ca. late 1910s Nokes & Nicolai All Metal Drum
No-Nic All Metal Drums are easily recognizable by their 1/8" thick aluminum shells, star shaped vent hole configuration, and logo stamped shell and hoops. Most examples are buffed to a high shine and then lacquered. This particular drum sports a black painted shell and faux gold hardware.
Antique Nokes & Nicolai Snare Drum
Nokes & Nicolai, Boston, Mass
Nokes & Nicolai's All Metal Drums, as well as their Separate Tension Orchestra Drums, are tuned by way of twelve separate tension lugs which are adjusted at the side of the drum using a wrench. Stamped metal hooks attach over the counterhoops and hold free-floating swivel nuts into which the tension rods feed. The posts are formed from milled brass and allow the rods to turn freely. Tight fitting stamped metal caps cover the posts providing a more finished appearance while keeping the rods in place when not under tension.
Nokes & Nicolai American Drummer No. 5, ca. 1913
Nokes & Nicolai American Drummer No. 5, ca. 1913

The snare mechanism present here is an evolved version of Dodge's "Combined Snare Strainer and Muffler". The original design (for which a patent was applied but apparently never granted) used a thin lever to engague and disengague the snares. Nokes & Nicolai's updated version used a thin metal tab positioned at the top of the mechanism to switch the snares on and off. Despite evolutions in other areas of drum making, a more modern snare butt never arrived at Nokes & Nicolai. The wires are held in place opposite of the strainer by a simple snare anchor.

Nokes & Nicolai Snare MechanismNokes & Nicolai Snare Anchor

Do you have an drum made by Nokes & Nicolai? I would love to see it! Feel free to send Lee an email anytime at And for more on the early 20th century snare drum makers of Boston, Massachusetts please visit or follow @old_boston_drums on instagram.

Friday, October 1, 2021

ca. 1890s Blair & Baldwin Orchestra Drum

Snare drums of the late 1800s were only beginning to evolve towards the more standardized insturments of 20th century. Some of the earliest steps along this path of transformation can bee seen in this circa 1890s drum attributed to Boston's Blair & Baldwin.
1890s blair & baldwin snare drum
Though the makers label has faded to the point it can no longer be read, the lower counterhoop bears Blair & Baldwin's distinctive semicircular snare gate which was used later by their succesor, the F. E. Dodge Company, and Dodge's succesors Nokes & Nicolai. The drum also features a prominent "BB" imprint inside of the shell which presumably stands for "Blair & Baldwin".
blair & baldwin snare drum shell
antique blair & baldwin drum shell
The drum is formed around a single-ply, birds-eye maple shell with solid reinforcing rings. The shallow shell depth is a subtle forshadowing of the orchestra drums made in Boston during very early 1900s. Tensioning is accomplished via twelve prussian style rods, common in the 1880s and 1890s, and the snares are adjusted using a traditional snare strainer.
19th century snare drum strainer
antique blair & baldwin drum
Do you have a drum made by Blair & Baldwin? I would love to see it! Feel free to drop Lee a note at And for more on the early 20th century snare drum makers of Boston, Massachusetts please visit or follow @old_boston_drums on instagram.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Early 1900s F. E. Dodge Street Drum

Preserving collector grade instruments is one way to honor Boston's drum building past. Another is to recondition and revive survivng examples as playable musical instruments giving voice to those makers who have been lost to time. The early 1900s F. E. Dodge Street Drum seen here is a case of the latter.
Early 1900s F. E. Dodge Snare Drum
F. E. Dodge Drum Label
Upon arrival, this drum was nothing but a shell. Bruised and crudely refinished, there was little remaining value from a collector standpoint other than the large makers label inside. Eventually a suitible conglomerate of parts was sourced and the drum was pieced back together breathing new life into a drum which had been silent for decades.

Rope Drum Ear 
Rope Drum Ear photo from 1907 Dodge Drum Catalogphoto:

Cooperman Fife and Drums supplied the leather ears which were then stamped and stained to emulate those typically seen on drums by Dodge and others in Boston around the late 19th and early 20th century. (See above photo from the 1907 Dodge catalog.) Calderwood Percussion supplied the faux hemp rope which provides the strength of modern synthetic rope while giving the visual impression of period correct materials. And the wooden counterhoops and calfskin batter head were taken from a donor drum built many years ago by Eames Drum Shells. The finishng touch, a custom lathed wooden grommet, was made up by Mattoon Drums and Percussion.

McIntosh Snare Strainer
McIntosh Snare Strainer and Muffler as pictured in Stone Catalog K
The hoop mounted snare mechanism is not one originally found on Dodge drums but is an intriguing bit of history in itself. Clearly this is an example of the snare strainer and muffler designed by William F. McIntosh, but there are several inconsistancies between this version and the one typically seen on McIntosh's own drums and those by George B. Stone & Son who used it widely through the 1910s and 1920s. The most obvious difference is the coarse, unbuffed exterior which is devoid of plating. The version present here also shows no signs of having ever had a lever installed.

Do you have an drum made by the F. E. Dodge Company? I would love to see it! Feel free to send Lee an email anytime at And for more on the early 20th century snare drum makers of Boston, Massachusetts please visit or follow @old_boston_drums on instagram.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Not a Master-Model

You can't judge a book by its cover. And in this case, you can't judge a drum by its badge. Regardless of what it says, this is not a Master-Model.
The mid-1930s were a time of resourcefulness and transition for Boston's George B. Stone & Son. With vaudeville theaters converting over to movie houses and the Great Depression taking it's toll, George Lawrence Stone began pouring more energy into teaching and gradually moved away from manufacturing.

It was during this period that Stone & Son mailed out their last known catalog, a sixteen-page, black and white booklet of recycled photographs illustrating a significantly stripped down product line. The iconic Master-Model drum is still spotlighted on the cover and in the opening pages, and several varieties of military drums are also offered, but no Master-Model field drum is mentioned. Serial numbers in the 9300 range are known to have been in use in late 1935 meaning that the drum seen here was likely produced in 1936 - the same year 'Booklet L' was distrubuted.

The drum is simple in construction featuring a thin, single ply maple shell with three reinforcing rings - one at each edge and a third underneath the tuning rod posts. The single-ply maple counterhoops and single tension thumbrods are virtually unchanged from those used two decades earlier. While single tension tuning systems and wooden counterhoops would remain in use into the mid 20th century, they were often indicative of lower priced models. Professional level drums dating from the same era commonly utilized separate tension tube lugs and metal counterhoops, features which had been in use since the 1920s.

Rather then evolve, Stone continued to equip drums with the 'Stone Patent Snare Strainer and Muffler' patented in 1909 by William F. McIntosh. As is typical for Stone, the snares are held in place opposite the strainer by a simple anchor. More advanced snare mechanisms were certainly available by the mid 1930s, but Stone's decision not to modernize is again evident here. But the most obvious indication of where this instrument fits within the timeline of Stone's manufacturing prowess is the use of a Master-Model badge on a drum which is clearly NOT a Master-Model.

Do you have a drum made by Geo. B. Stone & Son? I would love to hear about it! Feel free to drop Lee an email at And for more on the early 20th century snare drum makers of Boston, Massachusetts please visit or follow @old_boston_drums on instagram.