Sunday, September 16, 2012

Drumsticks from Yesteryear

Drumsticks haven't changed all that much in 100 years. The same premise applied then as it does now. They are made from wood, have a bead at one end, have a taper somewhere towards the bead, and preferably the stick is straight. In a way, there's not all that much to it. But I do get the impression that more attention to detail was put into crafting drumsticks back in the day, particularly by George B. Stone and Son.

Through the 1910s and 1920s Stone proclaimed in their catalogs that their sticks were "hand-turned by skilled workmen" as opposed to "the common machine-turned sticks which warp quickly and are usually rough and uneven". The same statement could be made today by a boutique stick turner to distinguish themselves from their mass marketed competitors and it would be no less true.

Stone & Son sticks turn up every once in a while. Recently a bundle of seven sticks (three pairs and a straggler) came my way along with a drum dating from circa 1920. The stamp imprinted near the butt end of the sticks typically reads "Geo. B. Stone & Son Inc / BOSTON" or sometimes simply "STONE" and is often followed by a model number.

The other Boston Drum Builders likely made their own sticks as well. They certainly cataloged and sold them. Below are catalog pages from several of the Boston Drum Builders through the 1910s describing their varied offerings. Models were produced from a wide selection of woods including rosewood, ebony, and snakewood, leopardwood, and cocoabola. Oliver Ditson even lists something called "ivory-tipped snare drum sticks" (which may or may not have actually been made from real ivory...) that would seem to be predecessors to today's nylon tipped sticks.

George B. Stone & Son - Catalog I, 1919:

Nokes & Nicolai - Catalog 5, ca. early - mid 1910s:

Nokes & Nicolai - Catalog 6, ca. 1918:

Oliver Ditson - Wonderbook No. 4, 1910

Oliver Ditson - Wonderbook No. 4, 1910