Sunday, June 16, 2013

Blair & Baldwin, Practical Drum Makers

Amongst the more obscure of the early 20th century Boston Drum Builders is a firm by the name of Blair & Baldwin. They do deserve to be recognized, however, as forefathers to several other Boston makers of the early 1900s.

Blair & Baldwin Drum Makers

Blair & Baldwin was founded in 1892 by William J. Blair and James G. Baldwin. Blair soon took lead of the company and by the mid 1890s the firm claimed to be the largest drum manufacturer in New England. The partnership initially was located in the Brighton District's Abattoir Grounds as is confirmed in the 1893 Boston Almanac and Business Directory. In 1894 the young company moved into Boston proper setting up shop at 379 Albany Street and around 1897 relocated to 169 Dudley Street. The 1902 New England Business Directory and Gazetteer again lists Blair & Baldwin at 169 Dudley Street in Boston. The last inclusion of Blair & Baldwin in Boston City Directories is 1902 at the Dudley Street address.

The information below is reported by Christine Merrick Ayars in Contributions to the Art of Music in America by the Music Industries of Boston 1640 - 1936 (New York: H.W. Wilson, 1937). The author is mistaken however in that Nahum "Grandsire" Baldwin of the J. C. Haynes Company died in 1896. James G. Baldwin, not Nahum J. Baldwin, was in fact a founding partner of Blair & Baldwin. The 1892, 1893, and 1894 Boston Directories list James G. Baldwin as working for Blair & Baldwin. During the very same time period, Nahum J. Baldwin is listed at the same address as the J. C. Haynes Company.

"William J. Blair was a drummer in the Civil War and a maker of good drums. Baldwin was a fine workman also. He resigned to manufacture bicycle wood rims and wheels. Later he worked for John C. Haynes & Co. where he was known as "Grandsire Baldwin". When Mr. Baldwin resigned about 1905, F. E. Dodge bought out Mr. Blair who worked first for Mr. Dodge and then for Nokes & Nicolai until his death."

For more on the origins of Blair & Baldwin, please visit:

Do you have a drum made by Blair & Baldwin? I want to hear from you! Send Lee an email at

Saturday, June 1, 2013

1923 George B. Stone & Son Master-Model Drum

The latest arrival into the collection is another early Master-Model Drum by Boston's George B. Stone & Son This one is finished in the commonly seen black lacquer with nickel plated hardware. As is consistent with other Master-Models from the first two years of production, the drum features a rosewood grommet, Stromberg butt plate and cylindrical tensioning nuts.
1923 George B. Stone & Son Master-Model Drum
1923 George B. Stone & Son Master-Model Drum

Inside the drum is a Stone & Son label dated December 31, 1923 as well as a second label reading "Hammond & Gerlach / Drum Specialists / Largest Drum School in Pennsylvania / Expert Drum and Banjo Repairing / Telephone Atlantic 3887 / 624 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA."
W. F. "Bill" Hammond was a renowned performer and teacher in his day. Malcolm M. "Heine" Gerlach was a four time National Champion Drummer of the American Legion Contest, a former member of Pittsburgh's Grand Theater orchestra, and a member of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Both Hammond and Gerlach came to know George Lawrence Stone through their involvement in the American Legion competition circuit. The three men were among the thirteen charter members of the National Association of Rudimental Drummers founded at the 1933 American Legion National Convention in Chicago. This personal connection between Stone, Gerlach and Hammond helps explain how a drum shop in Pittsburgh became a dealer for Geo. B. Stone & Son whose sales were mostly localized to New England.
1923 George B. Stone & Son Master-Model Drum
1923 George B. Stone & Son Master-Model Drum
Do you have a George B. Stone & Son Master-Model drum? I would love to hear about it! Drop me a note at And for more on Boston's early 20th century drum makers, please visit