Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Golden Master-Model

Driving every jazz age dance orchestra was an ace drummer. And at the center of every drummers outfit was a snare drum. If the twenties were all for flamboyance, and a drummer was expected to drive the band, then he needed a instrument that looked the part. Perhaps no snare drum produced by any of the early 20th century Boston Drum Builders could better fit the bill than this George B. Stone & Son Master-Model Drum finished in sparkling gold wrap with "nobby gold" hardware.

late '20s - early '30s Geo. B. Stone & Son Master-Model Drum

New England can be old fashioned, stodgy, even demure in some respects. These descriptors could also be applied to Boston's drum makers of the 1920s. Flying in the face of such generalizations is the appearance of this drum. In a cosmetic sense this instrument most definitely appears to be of its time. The sparkling gold wrap and faux gold hardware suggest this was not your average George B. Stone & Son drum. Even the exposed wooden areas of the counterhoops are painted gold lest any part of the drum be left ungilded. The overall impression is nearly garish.

While the entire visual aesthetic of this instrument is straight out of the roaring twenties to be sure, it is not so different from any other Master-Model produced by Stone in regards to construction and design. The old fashioned wooden hoops remain, as does the unorthodox method used to tension the heads which was conclusively obsolete by the late 1920s. The throw-off and butt plate are somewhat primitive too as was the case with all of Stone's hardware by the late 1920s and early 1930s.

What sets this drum apart of course is the brilliantly well preserved sparkling gold wrap. The wrap color is quite rich on this example showing very little visible signs of wear and fading. The sparkle pattern itself is very fine grained, closely resembling the wrapped finishes used by Leedy during the same time period. So as to pair with the shell, the hoops are also wrapped in matching strips with the remaining exposed wooden surfaces painted a similar hue of gold.

It is worth noting that George B. Stone & Son Catalog K (1925) makes no mention of wrapped finishes, only "Black De Luxe", "White De Luxe", and natural maple. Stone did however produce a small number of drums finished in pearl and sparkle wraps during the late 1920s and into the 1930s. Examples are known to exist in silver sparkle, red sparkle, white marine pearl, and black diamond pearl. By 1928 wrapped Master-Models are included on Stone price lists, and by 1932 price lists include a "Pyralin" Master-Model for $50.00, a significant increase over the white or black lacquer options priced at $40.00 and the natural finish at $35.00.

The hardware seen here is finished in what Stone cataloged as "Nobby Gold", a faux gold finish accomplished by plating the metal parts in brass before applying a final coat of clear lacquer to prevent tarnishing. The claws, nuts, and washers, which are steel, were first plated in nickel before receiving the brass plating. The lug posts are made from brass and did not need to be nickel plated prior to the brass plating and final lacquering. Catalog K describes Nobby Gold as being available "at small additional cost". Stone also claims that the finish "wears better than real gold and costs less". The former claim may be a case of advertising rhetoric, however, as wear does indeed occur over time and eventually rust begins to creep in.

Labels and marking on this drum are consistent with those on other Master-Models. The badge installed here is a solid brass version of the usual Master-Model badge which commonly has a black enameled background. The four digit Stone serial number is both ink stamped onto the label, and firmly imprinted inside of the wooden shell. Stone discontinued the practice of date stamping sometime in 1925, so a specific date of manufacture can not be determined.

Stone Master-Model Drum LabelStone Master-Model Drum Badge

Interestingly, this drums features conflicting Master-Model numbers. Perhaps this was a special order which was moved along quickly through the factory. That would be one way to explain how numbered hoops could have been installed on a shell bearing a different Master-Model number.

Master-Model Hoop StampMaster-Model pencil markings

Do you have a Stone Master-Model? I would love to hear about it! Feel free to send Lee an email anytime at And a very special thanks to my friend Chris in Washington, DC for allowing his drum to be featured here!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

ca. 1905 Stromberg Artist Drum

Swedish immigrant Charles A. Stromberg came to the United States in 1887 and found work at Boston's Thompson & Odell where he served as the foreman in their banjo, mandolin, and guitar factory. After Thompson & Odell went bankrupt in 1905, Stromberg went into business for himself. The Artist Drum seen here dates from sometime between April of 1904 and March of 1906 just as Stromberg was venturing out on his own.

ca. 1905 Charles A. Stromberg Artist Drum

Stromberg was careful to label this instrument as an "Artist" model so that it could not be confused with the higher end Invincible Orchestra Drum which featured patented separate tension lugs. The term "Artist" is a word borrowed from Thompson & Odell's advertising. To that end, Stromberg cut down one of his own paper labels and trimmed out the word "invincible" replacing it quite literally with a snippet from a Thompson & Odell label reading "Artist Drums". Another separate tiny strip of paper inside of the drum simply reads "CHARLES STROMBERG" in block lettering.

More interesting is a unique stamp reading "CHA. STROMBERG / DRUM MANUFACTURER / WASHINGTON STREET". Unfortunately the stamp is too faded to make out the street number, but it is worth noting that Stromberg evidently thought enough of his drum building business at this time to have a stamp identifying himself specifically as a drum manufacturer. Most fascinating is the pencil marking inside of the shell, in Stromberg's own handwriting, indicating that this drum employs his strainer and muffler design patented on April 5, 1904.

The strainer present on this drum is a very close match to Stromberg's original design. It very effectively tightens and loosens the snares though it lacks the ability to quickly engage or disengage the snares from the bottom head. Later versions, or possibly even concurrent ones, were equipped with a throw-off lever which could immediately switch the snares on or off. The strainer and butt seen here are both stamped "PAT. P'D'G", for patent pending, presumably indicating that the hardware was produced no earlier than July 20th, 1903, the date for which the patent was applied.

ca. 1905 Stromberg Artist Drum Snare Strainerca. 1905 Stromberg Artist Drum Snare Butt

Though this was not Stromberg's top of the line snare drum, it still bears his trademark crafstmanship from the beautifully figured maple shell, to the polished rosewood grommet lining the air vent, to the streamlined hoop clips which were more refined version of those used on earlier "Prussian" style drums. Another unique touch is a small brass plate reinforcing the snare side wooden hoop. Barely noticeable when the drum is assembled, this shows not only Stromberg's attention to detail, but his knowledge of the instrument in that this is typically a weak point where the hoop can easily crack.

ca. 1905 Stromberg Artist Drum Hoopca. 1905 Stromberg Artist Drum Grommet

The shell is one ply maple with narrow maple reinforcing rings which is typical for a Boston-made drum of this period. Most unusual is a fixed pinwheel-like wooden structure loosely suspended inside of the shell. The four 'paddles' are joined in the center while only two are attached to the shell. This very strange element seems to have no structural or functional purpose as it does not reinforce the shell and has nothing to do with how the snare strainer operates.

1905 Stromberg Artist Drum

In comparing this drum to nearly two dozen other known examples, nothing like this appears inside of any other Stromberg drum. Furthermore, neither of Stromberg's patents, both of which date from the same period during which this drum was built, mention or illustrate anything of this nature. So what was the purpose of this mysterious wooden pinwheel? Was this somehow intended to affect the sonic qualities of the drum? Was this a one-off experimental prototype or a standard production model? Is this possibly a feature borrowed from banjo construction that Stromberg was attempting to implement on drums? It is, in the end, a drum which presents more questions than answers.

Do you have a drum made by Charles A. Stromberg? I want to hear from you! Feel free to drop Lee an email anytime at And for more on the early 20th century snare drum makers of Boston, Massachusetts, please visit

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Prussian Drums

Towards the end of the 19th century, American musical instrument retailers began cataloging drums described as "Prussian" models. These were not generally instruments imported from Prussia, but rather early rod tension drums as opposed to the more traditional "regulation" style of drums which used rope and leather tugs to tune the heads.

Prussia was of coarse the powerful German state which in the 1860s and 1870s had claimed a series of resounding military victories including the Seven Weeks War in 1866 against Austria, and the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 - 1871 which ultimately lead to a united Germany. So labeling an American made instrument as "Prussian" at this time would have not only related it to the style of drums actually carried by the Prussian Army, but also would have held connotations of great strength and might.
Prussian Drum Advertisement

All of this being said, the most important takeaway is to know that the "Prussian" drums manufactured and sold during the 1880s and 1890s in the United States were some of the first widely produced rod tension drums. The Lyon & Healy Handbook of Musical Instruments (1896) further describes Prussian drums relative to the so called "regulation" drums of the day.

1890s Lyon & Healy Prussian Drum description

The American made Prussian style drums of the late 19th century may have been progressive in their use of metal hardware, but the instruments themselves weren't necessarily high end. Many were of the mass produced variety sold through band instrument dealers and mail order catalogs. These drums were often very basic in construction with crudely riveted metal shell seams and clumsily hammered snare beds. The metal hardware used to tension the drum was functional but typically rough and bulky.

C. Bruno & Sons CatalogC. Bruno & Sons Catalog

Labels applied inside Prussian drum shells usually list the retailer who sold the drum, but not necessarily the maker. Identical drums exist bearing differing labels thus the true origin of many drums is ambiguous. Shared catalog artwork between advertisers leaves the matter of determining a specific manufacturer even more dubious.

Prussian drums were sold by a vast number of music houses including John C. Church (Cincinnati), Oliver Ditson (Boston/New York), Lyon & Healy (Chicago), Thompson & Odell (Boston), J. W. Pepper (Philadelphia), Whaley & Royce (Toronto), John C. Haynes & Co. (Boston), the Rudolph Wurlitzer Company (Cincinnati), C. Bruno & Son (New York), Julius Bauer & Company (Chicago), and William Tonk & Bros (New York). Even mail order companies such Sears Roebuck & Company cataloged Prussian drums among their selection of musical instruments.

Sears Roebuck & Company Prussian Drum Advertisement

Based on the prevalence of surviving examples, metal shells appear to have been most popular. This in and of itself was a significant evolution as American made drums to this point had traditionally been formed from wood. Nickel, German silver, and brass shells were common for Prussian drums. Wooden shell Prussian drums are not uncommon however. Drums constructed around maple, white holly, or rosewood shells are typically offered alongside metal shell models in advertisements. Hoops were normally wooden, often painted black or stained in a faux rosewood finish. Gilded and more ornately decorated hoops were also offered in many catalogs.

Tensioning hardware was comprised of multiple sets of large square headed tension rods passing through claws clasping each hoop. The rods passed loosely through the claws holding the top hoop and threaded into claws grasping the bottom hoop. This was an efficient way to tighten or loosen both heads at the same time but lacked the ability to tune the heads independently.

Prussian models were often equipped with leg rests making it easier to play the drum while standing or marching. The leg rests commonly were connected to the metal drum claws. Snare strainers were simple allowing for the tightening and loosening of gut snares.

From these early rod tension snare drums, the modern snare drum would eventually evolve. As Prussian drums were smaller than regulation rope drums, "orchestra" models were more shallow than Prussian drums. Similar tensioning methods to those used on Prussian drums would soon be scaled down and refined giving rise to the more modern instruments of the early 20th century.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Drum Catalogs from Yesteryear

Simply put, drum catalogs are an ephemeral form of advertising material. Small trade publications such as these were entirely disposable after a very short period of use. As soon as a new catalog was issued, the old one was irrelevant. Little thought was put into what would happen to these bound sheets of paper once their short term purpose had been fulfilled. But for those who collect and study antique drums and the now defunct companies that produced them, one hundred year old drum catalogs are a priceless treasure trove of information about long gone manufacturers and their wares.

The catalogs pictured below from John C. Haynes, F. E. Dodge, Thompson & Odell, Nokes & Nicolai, Oliver Ditson, and George B. Stone & Son depict a fairly broad view of drum making in Boston from the late 19th century up through the mid 1920s. And though all of these companies would in one way or another cease operation fairly soon after this time, the evolution of the snare drum can quite literally be be traced through the pages of these trade publications. Over a period of nearly 50 years, the snare drum morphed from an old fashioned, rope tensioned instrument during the mid 1800s, to a primitive single tension thumbrod style drum around the turn of the 20th century, and finally to an all but modern showpiece by the mid 1920s where finely crafted wooden and metal shell drums featured fully functioning snare throw-offs and separate tension lugs which allowed for either head to be tuned independently.

The Boston Drum Builders were at the same time experimental yet generally slow to evolve. The offerings pictured throughout these pages allow us to compare and contrast the instruments made in Boston with those of their Midwestern counterparts. In particular, Leedy of Indianapolis and Ludwig & Ludwig of Chicago were quicker to modernize and faster to grow allowing them to swiftly overtake the Boston makers in terms of size and influence. The relative scarcity of ephemera left behind by the Boston companies as compared to their peers is evidence of this trend.

The catalog cover photos shown below are a far from comprehensive depiction of the advertisements published by the Boston Drum Builders. Surely, many other trade publications exist. Stone published "Booklet L" sometime after Catalog K and presumably had printed something resembling Catalogs "A" through "F" before arriving at "G" sometime around 1912. It would be a logical assumption that some form of catalog preceded Nokes & Nicolai's "American Drummer No. 5". Perhaps Nos. 1 through 4 were printed earlier, or maybe picking up with number five indicates that F. E. Dodge had already issued four full catalogs before Nokes & Nicolai succeeded them in 1912. Many more J. C. Haynes & Company catalogs are known to have been published, mostly dating from the 1880s and 1890s and including a plethora of musical instruments, not just drums. The same is likely the case for Oliver Ditson whose "Wonderbook Number Four" (1910) corresponds with the volume number within a given year of publication rather than an issue in a chronological series.

The two more prominent boutique builders in Boston during the early 1900s, Harry A. Bower and Charles A. Stromberg, bear mention here as well though there are no catalogs to show. Neither maker left much behind in the way of advertising as compared to the other Boston makers. Some Bower advertising does appear in trade publications, but no full size drum catalogs by either Stromberg or Bower are known to exist. Stromberg appears to have hardly advertised his drums at all, perhaps because he was such a small, high end maker working with a broad diversity of instruments including harps, banjos, and finally guitars for which he would ultimately become best known.

Some of these catalogs are viewable online in part or in their entirety. The 1907 F. E. Dodge Catalog and Geo. B. Stone & Son Catalog K (1925) can be found at The 1883 J. C. Haynes Catalog, held by the Winterthur Museum Library in Wilmington, Delaware is viewable online at the Internet Archive. The remaining catalogs included here are from the authors collection.

Stone Catalog G - ca. 1912
George B. Stone & Son
Catalog G - ca. 1912

Stone Catalog H - ca. 1915
George B. Stone & Son
Catalog H - ca. 1915

Stone Catalog I - 1919
George B. Stone & Son
Catalog I - 1919

Stone Catalog K - 1925
George B. Stone & Son
Catalog K - 1925

F. E. Dodge Catalog - 1907
F. E. Dodge Company - 1907
Nokes & Nicolai Catalog Cover - mid 1910s
Nokes & Nicolai
The American Drummer No. 5 - mid 1910s

Nokes & Nicolai Catalog Cover - ca. 1918
Nokes & Nicolai
The American Drummer No. 6 - ca. 1918

Vega / Thompson & Odell Catalog
Thompson & Odell by Vega - ca. 1915
Oliver Ditson Company 1910
Oliver Ditson Company
Ditson Wonderbook Number Four - 1910
J. C. Haynes Company - 1883
J. C. Haynes & Company - 1883

Do you have a catalog from one of Boston's early 20th century drum makers? I would love to hear from you! Feel free to send Lee an email anytime at And for more on the history of drum manufacturing in Boston, Massachusetts please visit

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Story of A. A. Young

As Vaudeville was meeting a rapid demise towards the end of the 1920s at the hands of talking cinema and broadcast radio, so too were the dreams of aspiring drummers and drum makers alike. Just as the curtain was coming down for good on Vaudeville, the Great Depression landed and a manufacturing startup of any sort was all but impossible for a one man operation such as that of A. A. Young. But a decade earlier, the twenties were just beginning to roar and to an aspiring drummer and drum maker from Lewiston, Maine the lights of Lynn, Massachusetts must have shined brightly.

Central Square in Lynn, Massachusetts circa 1910
Central Square - Lynn, Massachusetts ca. 1910

Lynn, Massachusetts was long known as an industrial hotbed along the Massachusetts North Shore and more specifically as the center of shoe production in America. By the early 1900s, it is said to have been the largest shoe manufacturing city in the world. This reputation as a cobblers haven may have helped draw A. A. Young to Lynn. Government records from his marriage to Edith M. Sampson in 1894 list Young's occupation as that of Shoemaker.

Known more for industry than for culture, Lynn had a thriving theater scene nonetheless. Venues included the Olympia, B. F. Kieth's Theatre, the Mark Comique, and Katz's Auditorium Theatre. In 1915, the new 2000 plus seat Strand Theater opened on Union Street and it was here that Young would soon find regular work as a musician.

The Strand Theatre in Lynn, MA between 1915 and 1930
Union Street - Lynn, Massachusetts between 1915 - 1930

Arthur Amos Young (1875 - 1957) was born and raised in Lewiston, Maine. The youngest of four children, Arthur attended school and was a laborer as a young man. His father Ezekiel was an engineer and a Free Mason who retired to Harpswell, Maine as a farmer late in his life. Arthur would live with his aging father in Maine until at least 1900.

By 1909 Arthur had moved south to Lynn, Massachusetts with his wife and son. A drum teacher by day and a theater musician by night, Young also had a strong interest in building and selling drums and percussion accessories. City directories throughout the 1910s list Arthur A. Young as a drum manufacturer at 113 Munroe Street just off Central Square. In 1920 his studio moved to 341 Union Street where he would remain for more than a decade teaching students and selling drums in the heart of downtown Lynn.

Not unlike modern times there were tiers amongst drum builders of the 1920s. There were the well established companies of varying sizes, then there were the smaller artisan makers who hand crafted only a select number of instruments, and then there were the A. A. Youngs of the world. Young maintained only a minuscule industry presence and was more of an assembler and a dealer rather than a manufacturer of significance.1922 A. A. Young Drum Advertisement
The International Musician, June 1922

For such a small timer who peaked in the early 1920s, it's a wonder that anything at all can be uncovered on Young. As nearly 100 years have disappeared since, so have most of the A. A. Young drums and sticks used to keep the beat in the theater orchestras of Lynn. Of the few surviving examples left to tell the story, most are dusty, dying, or incomplete.

A. A. Young Orchestra Drum
A. A. Young Orchestra Drum ca. 1910s - 1920s
A. A. Young Drum Butt
A. A. Young Drum Snare Butt
A. A. Young Timpani Mallet
A. A. Young Timpani Mallet
A. A. Young Timpani Mallet                         photo courtesy of Danielle Squyres

Young's own advertising would suggest that his "Special Orchestra Drum" was more of a budget level instrument than a professional model. It's likely that the shells and hardware were sourced from other more prominent companies in New England and assembled by Young. Going by the few examples of his work to surface, there are few distinguishing features unique to Young as a maker. Later instruments sometimes appear as a curious hodgepodge of parts taken from different companies and different eras.

Perhaps A. A. Young's most notable contribution to percussion manufacturing was a bass drum pedal design for which he was granted a Canadian patent on November 21st, 1922. It appears that while he applied for an American patent as well, only the Canadian patent was granted, maybe because Young's design was not so different the from other piano-action pedals available at the time.

In the end, Arthur Young was like so many others in his day. He played drums and he built drums. Most early 20th century drum companies were started by drummers after all. Only the biggest and most influential makers left their mark and only the strongest would weather the economic climate of the 1930s. Young's manufacturing prowess never grew that large or powerful and ultimately he has faded into obscurity.

Young lived out his later years, at least through 1940, in Lynn, Massachusetts just as he had in previous decades working as a theater musician and a drum teacher. There couldn't have been much theater work left in those days. The Strand had long since been purchased by Warner Brothers and converted into a movie house. Arthur Amos Young died on May 7, 1957 and was laid to rest at Riverside Cemetery in his native Lewiston, Maine.
A. A. Young Bass Drum Pedal Advertisement
The International Musician, August 1921

Do you have a drum made made by A. A. Young? I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to send Lee an email anytime at And for more on the early 20th century snare drum makers of Boston, Massachusetts, please visit

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Stone Master-Model Dating Guide - Part II

Historical Overview | Dating Guide Part I | Dating Guide Part II

After discussing tension nuts, snare strainers, butt plates, and grommets in Part I, this second installment will detail additional characteristics by which to more accurately identify and date George. B. Stone & Son Master-Model drums.


George B. Stone & Son Master-Model snare drums normally have a Master-Model badge mounted to the top counterhoop, positioned above the air vent. Badges appear in several styles but they do not tend to be an accurate guideline for specifically dating a drum. The most commonly seen badge reads " GEO. B. STONE & SON INC. / MASTER-MODEL / BOSTON, MASS." This badge is found on the vast majority of the more than 700 Master-Model snare drums to be produced. A few exceptions include the very earliest drums which sometimes bear the typical GEO. B. STONE & SON or GEO. B. STONE & SON INC. badge lacking the "Master-Model" wording. Other variations include plain brass or silver versions of all three of these badges. George B. Stone & Son Master-Model Drum Badge
Geo. B. Stone & Son Master-Model Drum Badge, ca. 1920s - 1930s

Plain brass or silver badges were generally reserved for more special drums such as those wrapped in Pyralin finishes, or the all-metal Master-Model drums built around solid aluminum shells. On all-metal Master-Model drums, the badge is usually affixed directly onto the shell rather than the top counterhoop.

George B. Stone & Son Master-Model Drum Badge
early Master-Model Drum Badge, ca. 1922
George B. Stone & Son Master-Model Drum Badge
early Master-Model Drum Badge, ca. 1923

George B. Stone & Son Master-Model Drum Badge
All-Metal Master-Model Drum Badge, ca. 1925
George B. Stone & Son Master-Model Drum Badge
Pearl Wrapped Master-Model Drum Badge, ca. 1930s

Late in Stone's manufacturing days of the 1930s, a significant number of common single tension field drums were assembled with Master-Model badges installed. While it is possible that Stone cataloged a Master-Model field drum in the late 1930s, it is more likely that the factory was merely using up their leftover stock of Master-Model badges. A decade earlier, these instruments never would have been considered by Stone to be true "Master-Model" drums as none of the other characteristic elements of the Master-Model drums are to be found in these instruments.

Labels and Date Stamps

Makers labels were typically applied to the inside of Stone Master-Model shells across from the air vent so that they could be viewed by peering through the grommet. Sometimes labels were placed right side up, and sometimes they were placed upside down. There does not appear to be a specific pattern to or method by which the labels were applied.

Date stamps were commonly applied to Stone Master-Model labels up through mid 1925 by which time the serial numbers had reached the low 7000 range. After 1925, the practice of date stamping ceased while the use of serial numbers continued as the four digit numbers would ultimately climb into the high 9000 range. It should be noted that these four digit serial numbers were applied to all Stone shells, not just the Master-Models. The same is true of date stamps from the same time period of 1922 - 1925.

George B. Stone & Son Master-Model Drum Label
Master-Model Label, 1923
George B. Stone & Son Master-Model Drum Label
Master-Model Label, ca. 1926

George B. Stone & Son Master-Model Drum Label
Master-Model Label, late 1920s - early 1930s
George B. Stone & Son Master-Model Drum Label
Master-Model Label, mid 1930s

Master-Model Numbers and Pencil Markings

Geo. B. Stone & Son kept a running count of exactly how many Master-Model drums were being produced. Most Master-Models have a two or three digit number marked somewhere inside of the shell. This is the Master-Model number. The method by which the Master-Model numbers were marked inside of the drums is inconsistent. The most commonly seen marking is a small three digit number hand written in pencil at the bottom of each drum label.

George B. Stone & Son Master-Model Drum NumberingsGeorge B. Stone & Son Master-Model Drum Numberings

Sometimes the Master-Model number was also handwritten in pencil near one or both bearing edges inside the drum. At other times the number is stamped into the wood in a similar fashion to how the serial numbers were imprinted only with much smaller numerals. Sometimes both of the markings are present simultaneously. (Example 1)

Often times, the shell and the wooden counterhoops were marked with the same number telling us that the Stone factory workers matched the hoops specifically to each individual drum. (Examples 2a and 2b)

Complicating this numbering system is the way that the factory kept track of matched pairs of hoops with very similar pencil markings. Sometimes these numbers match the drum but many times they do not. Sometimes the two hoop numbers match each other, but other times they correspond only to a specific side of a particular drum and do not correlate with the Master-Model numbering system. (Example 3)

George B. Stone & Son Master-Model Drum Numberings
Example 1
George B. Stone & Son Master-Model Drum Numberings
Example 2a

George B. Stone & Son Master-Model Drum Numberings
Example 2b
George B. Stone & Son Master-Model Drum Numberings
Example 3

It can be difficult to discern the difference between Stone's hoop numbers and the Master-Model numbers. The hoop numbers are typically one or two digits, marked only in pencil. Master-Model numbers are usually two or three digit numbers and are marked elsewhere in the shell and hoops. Thus confusing the hoop numbers with the Master-Model number is really only an issue with the first one hundred drums where a two digit hoop number could be mistaken for a two digit Master-Model number, or in cases where a Master-Model number can not be found.

Preservation and Provenance

Care should be taken when disassembling a Stone Master-Model drum so as not to accidentally obscure or remove any of the original pencil markings inside of the drum and on the underside of the wooden counterhoops. Removing these small pieces of evidence left behind by a factory worker nearly a century ago takes away from the story of each individual drum and its unique provenance.

If you are the owner of a Stone Master-Model Drum, please write to me! For several years now I have been compiling a listing of Master-Models which currently includes more than three dozen instruments. With each drum documented, more is learned about George B. Stone & Son as a manufacturer, and about the evolution of the company's production capabilities. This is especially important seeing as no original Stone serial number listing exists. Any records kept by the company have long since been lost or destroyed. This is why, by recording information about each drum as it is discovered, we can paint an ever clearer picture of the full history of these wonderful drums and the company that produced them.

Lee can be contacted any time by email at

And for more on the Boston Drum Builders of the early 20th century, please visit