Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Nokes & Nicolai All Metal Drum

Nokes & Nicolai's American Drummer No. 6, published ca. 1918, describes the No-Nic All Metal Drum as follows:

    Our All Metal Drum is the wonder of the age because it has been constructed on a systematic basis. The drum that will outwit all others for its extreme sensitiveness, snap, clearness and brilliancy, and at the same time with an unlimited volume of drum tone (and not tinny).
     These drums are designed after a great many years' experience in all kinds of metal and now we can safely guarantee them to be the best ever and can assure you perfect satisfaction.
     The shell is of solid 1/8" aluminum, cast counter hoops, steel flesh hoops (heavily coppered to prevent rusting), 12 separate tension self aligning rods, 2 Rogers' or No-Nic transparent heads, 12 waterproof (or gut) snares, snare strainer and muffler.

The No-Nic All Metal Drum was listed as being available in four sizes ranging from 3" x 14" to 6" x 14" but the smallest of those sizes appears to have been the most popular based on how frequently they appear today. Surviving examples in original condition are fairly uncommon.

Lee's Nokes & Nicolai All-Metal Drum ca. late 1910s

Of the four examples in my personal collection, three appear to have been altered in some way. Each of the drums featured here differ slightly from the catalog artwork in THE AMERICAN DRUMMER (ca. 1918), Nokes & Nicolai's last known full product catalog. (There is no metal drum listed in Catalog 5, circa 1914.) So changes must have been made to the design of the drum over the ten or so years during which it was manufactured including the move to diecast counterhoops and an updated snare throw-off.

Nokes & Nicolai All Metal Snare Drum

Nokes & Nicolai All Metal Drums are easily recognizable by their thick aluminum shells, star shaped vent hole configuration, and logo stamped shell and hoops. The drums are tuned by way of twelve separate tension lugs which are adjusted at the side of the drum using a wrench. The aluminum shells are crudely riveted together at a seam using a narrow overlapping panel, also made of aluminum.

Air Vent Holes

Shell Seam (inside view)

Shell Seam (outside view)

Do you have a Nokes & Nicolai snare drum? I want to hear from you! Send me an email at lee@vinson.net.