Sunday, April 6, 2014

Savage & Sons Rope Drum

From Ellis Mirsky's Field Drum Blog comes an interesting early 20th century Boston-made rope drum labeled with the name of a little known musical instrument dealer. The hoop mounted metal badge reads "HENRY H. SAVAGE & SONS / MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS / 166 Hanover St., BOSTON, MASS.". The characteristics of this drum are all typical of the Boston Drum Builders of the early 1900s, but information on Savage & Sons is hard to come by.

Henry Harrison Savage was born in North Bridgton, Maine on September 12th, 1839. Savage was married with three children, including two sons, and in his early life was involved with farming and the grocery business. He moved to Boston in the 1860s working as a clerk in a broker's office for several years before going into business for himself about 1878. Savage would go on to have diversified business interests including real estate, development, and banking, and was active as both a Mason and an Odd Fellow. Savage passed away in Wakefield, MA at the age of 92 on March 22nd, 1932.

During the late 1910s and early 1920s, Savage & Sons advertising appeared in college newspapers including MIT's "The Tech" and Boston College's "The Heights". The business obviously dealt in more than just musical instruments as their advertisements listed an eclectic array of wares for sale including everything from "Talking Machines and Records" to "Diamonds, Watches, Clocks, & Jewelry". It also says something about Savage's target audience when advertisements are running in college newspapers but not the prominent music trade publications at the time. All of these clues suggest that Savage was more of a lower level musical instrument dealer than any sort of high end drum manufacturer.

The drum pictured here, which appears to be fairly common in design and construction, was likely bought and relabeled by Savage & Sons. The biggest tipoff that this is a relabeled drum is the four extra holes around the savage hoop-mounted badge. A different, larger badge was obviously in place here at one time. The other major clue is the deteriorated paper label inside of the drum. There is very little left of the original label, but what is still present would appear to correspond with a late Nokes & Nicolai label circa 1920 - 1926. The way the original badge was removed and replaced suggests that this instrument wasn't even a contract build so much as it was either repaired or bought by Savage and then quite literally relabeled for sale.
Savage & Sons Rope Drum, circa early 1920s

The Heights, Volume IV, Number 15, February 8th, 1923

Compare the pictures below of the Savage & Sons drum to a Nokes & Nicolai instrument from the same time period. And for more photos of the Savage & Sons drum, visit

Savage & Sons drum badge
Savage & Sons Drum Badge
Nokes & Nicolai drum badge, circa 1920 - 1926
Nokes & Nicolai Drum Badge, ca. 1920 - 1926
Savage & Sons drum label
Label appearing inside of Savage & Sons Drum
Nokes & Nicolai drum label, circa 1920 - 1926
Nokes & Nicolai Drum Label, ca. 1920 - 1926

Do you have an instrument from Henry H. Savage & Sons? I want to hear from you! Send Lee and email at