Sunday, August 18, 2013

Made by Stone vs. Sold by Stone

In addition to manufacturing their own professional quality drums and traps in house, George B. Stone & Son Inc. catalogued instruments and accessories purchased from other companies. This is very apparent in Catalog K dating from 1925 where many Deagan keyboard instruments are included as top of the line offerings. This particular arrangement with Deagan may have had something to do with Advertising Manager F. W. Neptune, formerly of J. C. Deagan.

Also available through Stone & Son for many years was Ludwig & Ludwig's early bass drum pedal which proved to be so popular that it helped establish the Ludwigs' place in the market as their young drum manufacturing business grew.

The wording used by Stone in Catalog G dating from circa 1915 is very clear in stating that in addition to manufacturing high end maple shell drums themselves in house, they also sold "ready made veneer shell drums from another manufacturer". This information is further corroborated by former Stone employee and future Leedy Sales Manager George Way who stated the following in a 1932 business proposal:

"Wells Manufacturing Company, Brooklyn - A very small shop employing three or four men who do not make an assembled product, but supply wood shells to other drum factories such as Duplex, Stone, and a few jobbers who make up cheap models."
George B. Stone & Son Catalog I, 1919
George B. Stone & Son Catalog I, 1919
So perhaps this was the source of Stone's entry level drums distributed through the 1910s and '20s. The catalog page seen below further explains that these drums are of lesser quality and and are intended as budget level instruments.
George B. Stone & Son Catalog G, ca. 1915
It is also worth noting that just because a drum bears a strainer marked 'Stone', that the instrument may not neccesarily have been produced by Stone & Son. The "Stone Patent Snare Strainer and Muffler" was available for purchase separately and sometimes surfaces as an after-market addition to drums. These examples are not normally stamped with the Stone name so as not to confuse the make of the drum.

All of this is to say that identifying a drum as having been built by Geo. B. Stone & Son relies on a number of different factors. To further muddy the waters, Stone sometimes assembled drums using what appear to be 'generic' parts. This was especially true during the very early 1900s before the company's hardware was unique to Stone, and in the 1930s by which time the manufacturing business was being allowed to fade. Stone was generally very good about labeling their house made instruments and at times even date stamped drums as they were assembled.
So in the absence of a manufacturer's badge or label, the best way to definitively identify a Stone drum is by looking at combination of characteristics and matching them up against known examples of factory labeled instruments.

Do you have a drum made by George B. Stone & Son? I want to hear from you! Send Lee an email at

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Stone's Market Position in 1932

There is an interesting snippet of information included in Rob Cook's "The Slingerland Book" regarding the market position of George. B. Stone & Son as of 1932.

George Way, one of the driving forces of innovation in the drum making business across many decades was at this time a Sales Manager for the Conn owned Leedy Company of Elkhart, Indiana. Many years earlier, Way had in fact worked for the Stone Company in Boston. For that reason his remarks on Stone hold even more weight as Way would have had some first hand insights to how Stone's business functioned.

In 1932 George Way was searching for financial backing to start his own company. Way's business proposal sized up the competition by including a brief description of each of the major players in the marketplace at that time. His write up of Stone is excerpted below. Remember, this was well after Geo. B. Stone & Son's prime when they're manufacturing ambitions and capabilities were much greater.
"This firm is about 35 years old. They manufacture old style snare and bass drums in limited sizes and finishes. They also make eight or ten accessories. The main activity of the firm is the operation of a large drum school. It is doubtful if their manufacturing activities exceed $25,000.00 a year."
This quote is interesting for several reasons. For one, Way considers Stone's product line to be "old style" by 1932. This isn't altogether surprising as the Stone Company's golden age of the early - mid 1920s had now passed. It also fills us in that by this time the drum school side of the Stone business had surpassed manufacturing as the firm's primary activity.

Further information from Way included in Cook's book gives us some idea of how small George B. Stone & Son really was in comparison to other companies in the industry. Way states that in 1929 just as the Great Depression was setting in that Leedy's sales were down by $80,000 to $449,000 for the year. Slingerland was still very much a newcomer to the percussion business in 1929, but Way estimates that Singlerland's drum division sales rose to about $100,000 that year. Compare this to Ludwig & Ludwig who had grown to surpass Leedy as the largest percussion company in the country by 1927 totaling approximately $800,000 in sales that year. Way's 1932 sales estimates of several other drum makers are telling as well: Novak Drum Supply Co. of Chicago, IL - $50,000 per year; Wilson Drum Company of Chicago, IL - $50,000 to $60,000 per year before going out of business in 1928; Walberg & Auge of Worcestor, MA - $60,000 per year; Duplex Manufacturing Company of St. Louis, MO - around $20,000 per year at their height.

It is difficult to compare all the numbers accurately as Way jumps around a bit on the dates used. Percussion companies in the late 1920s and early 1930s were grappling with the loss of the theater drummer business due to the advent of talking movies, and the Great Depression was crippling the entire economy to the point where nearly everyone's sales figures fell off somewhat. But at the very least, Way's presumptions shed some light on the size of George B. Stone & Son relative to the other major players in the industry during that era.

Do you have a drum made by Geo. B. Stone & Son? I want to hear from you! Send Lee an email at