Saturday, June 1, 2013

What's in a Label?

The latest arrival into the collection is an early George B. Stone & Son Master-Model Drum in very good condition. (This would be Master-Model number ten, but who's counting...) The drum 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 bears a rosewood grommet and a Stromberg butt plate. The drum is tensioned using the fully rounded 'first generation' Master-Model nuts. The most unique aspects of this find, however, are found inside of the drum.

For one, there is a large paper label applied to the inside of the shell, presumably placed there by the drum shop who sold or repaired the drum. The label reads "Hammond & Gerlach / Drum Specialists / Largest Drum School in Pennsylvania / Expert Drum and Banjo Repairing / Telephone Atlantic 3887 / 624 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA." Advertisements from 1926 describe Hammond & Gerlach as dealers of Stone, Ludwig, Leedy, and Barry Drums and Traps and here is evidence of that.

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 the Grand Theater orchestra, and at one time a member of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Both men were both founding members of the National Association of Rudimental Drummers along with George Lawrence Stone. This personal connection with Stone formed through the American Legion National Conventions which ultimately yielded the founding of N.A.R.D. might explain why a dealer in Pittsburgh was selling Geo. B. Stone & Son drums when the most of the company's sales were localized to New England.
Lee's 1923 Stone Master-Model Drum
1923 George B. Stone & Son Master-Model Drum

Hammond & Gerlach Drum Label
Hammond & Gerlach Dealer Label
So it was Hammond and Gerlach's shop who either sold or repaired this drum once upon a time. And in an amazing coincidence my teacher from college, John H. Beck, took lessons at this very drum shop as a high school student. Now how about that for a backstory?
George B. Stone & Son Drum Label
George B. Stone & Son Drum Label
But back to the drum and why it is significant in and of itself. The Stone label, also applied to the inside of the shell, is damaged and partially missing but the important half remains and is clearly legible. The drum is dated December 31st, 1923 - the very last day of the year!

Stone was quite diligent about date stamping their labels from early 1922 through about 1925. Comparing the dates and numbers of other known Stone drums tells us that the company produced a total of about 1100 drums in 1922 through 1923. This works out to less than 600 drums per year, or fewer than 50 drums per month over that period of time.

Interestingly, I have two other Master-Model drums built within only a few weeks of each other in December, 1923 and January of 1924. It is fascinating to me to think that all three of these drums left the Stone factory within one month of each other! Anyway, this drum will receive some light detailing and a new calsfkin batter head and will then be ready to display alongside its long lost siblings.

Do you have a George B. Stone & Son Master-Model drum? I would love to hear about it! Drop Lee a note at And for more on Boston's early 20th century drum makers, please visit