Sunday, June 16, 2013

Blair & Baldwin

Amongst the most 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 with William J. Blair soon taking lead of the company. By the mid 1890s they 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). Ayars may have her facts jumbled however seeing as Nahum "Grandsire" Baldwin of the J. C. Haynes Company died in 1896. It may be the case that a man by the name of James G. Baldwin, not Nahum J. Baldwin, was in fact a founding partner of Blair & Baldwin as the 1892, 1893, and 1894 Boston Directories list him as working for the company. 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."

It does appear that Blair kept the company in motion for several years before selling out to a young Frank E. Dodge. So in a way, Messrs. Blair and Baldwin would each continue to help shape drum building in Boston well into the early 1900s.

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