Friday, October 1, 2021
Wednesday, September 1, 2021
Cooperman Fife and Drums supplied the leather ears which were then stamped and stained to emulate those typically seen on drums by Dodge and others in Boston around the late 19th and early 20th century. (See above photo from the 1907 Dodge catalog.) Calderwood Percussion supplied the faux hemp rope which provides the strength of modern synthetic rope while giving the visual impression of period correct materials. And the wooden counterhoops and calfskin batter head were taken from a donor drum built many years ago by Eames Drum Shells. The finishng touch, a custom lathed wooden grommet, was made up by Mattoon Drums and Percussion.
Do you have an drum made by the F. E. Dodge Company? I would love to see it! Feel free to send Lee an email anytime at email@example.com. And for more on the early 20th century snare drum makers of Boston, Massachusetts please visit BostonDrumBuilders.com or follow @old_boston_drums on instagram.
Sunday, August 1, 2021
It was during this period that Stone & Son mailed out their last known catalog, a sixteen-page, black and white booklet of recycled photographs illustrating a significantly stripped down product line. The iconic Master-Model drum is still spotlighted on the cover and in the opening pages, and several varieties of military drums are also offered, but no Master-Model field drum is mentioned. Serial numbers in the 9300 range are known to have been in use in late 1935 meaning that the drum seen here was likely produced in 1936 - the same year 'Booklet L' was distrubuted.
Rather then evolve, Stone continued to equip drums with the 'Stone Patent Snare Strainer and Muffler' patented in 1909 by William F. McIntosh. As is typical for Stone, the snares are held in place opposite the strainer by a simple anchor. More advanced snare mechanisms were certainly available by the mid 1930s, but Stone's decision not to modernize is again evident here. But the most obvious indication of where this instrument fits within the timeline of Stone's manufacturing prowess is the use of a Master-Model badge on a drum which is clearly NOT a Master-Model.
Thursday, July 1, 2021
The extent of Ira Erving White's training is unclear but he surely recieved an introduction to the trade from his large, musically inclined extended family. During Ira Erving's adolescent and teenage years, his father and uncle operated as "White Brothers" dealing in a wide range of musical instruments including drums but focused especially on stringed instruments. Ira Johnson and Asa Warren are best remembered as New England's earliest master violin makers.
The White Brothers storefront was known as the "Tremont Temple Music Store" as can be seen in advertising from the early 1850s. After 1863, Asa Warren continued alone at 86 Tremont Street later partnering with Louis P. Goullaud around 1870. The store would ultimately be succeeded by Thompson & Odell in 1876 with Asa Warren relocating to 50 Bromfield Street.
As for Ira Erving's assumed involvement in the family busines, the 1855 Census shows him working as a musical instrument maker when he was just 16 years old. Five years later, the 1860 Census lists his occupation more concisely as "music store". But perhaps the best evidence linking Ira Erving to White Brothers are directory listings showing him as a musician at 86 Tremont in 1861, and at 25 Tremont Temple in 1863 - the same address as his father and uncle's music store. By 1864, Ira Johnson departed White Brothers and Ira Erving, at age 24, opened his own shop at 83 Sudbury where directory listings describe him as a drum manufacturer.
|By 1864, at the age of 24, Ira Erving White had opened his own shop at 83 Sudbury Street in Boston where directory listings describe him as a drum manufacturer. |
If Ira Johnson and Asa Warren were more consumed with string instruments, Ira Erving may have learned drum making from others. Joseph B. Treat is thought to have worked for Asa Warren White in the 1860s and 1870s and shares a common address of 86 Tremont with A. W. White as early as 1863. Another little-known drum maker, George E. Rogers, is also listed at 86 Tremont Street in 1863. The Civil War era was a prosperous time for drum manufacturing and by starting his own business Ira Erving White was meeting a need for military drums while filling a void in the market left behind by the dissolution of White Brothers.
Ira Erving White married Sarah Isabella Pearl in 1861 and by 1871 was residing in Wakefield, MA. Save for a brief absence during the early 1870s, Boston directories list White's business at 83 Sudbury Street well into the 1880s sometimes appearing under the name "Irving E. White". A simple explanation for the alternative name could be that he went by his middle name "Erving" in order to avoid confusion with his father Ira Johnson. (His Uncle Asa reportedly went by his middle name "Warren".) A less plausible thoery, offered by Christine Merrick Ayars' Contributions to the Art of Music in America by the Music Industries of Boston, 1640-1936, posits that "Irving E." was Ira Erving's cousin. But "Irving" and "Ira" never appear in the same directory and the full name "Irving" appears only in the personal listings and never in the business listings which always use the initials "I. E. White". Further, no one by the name "Irving E. White" can be found in the White family tree.
Across more than five decades Ira Erving White built and repaired a wide variety of musical instruments but seems to have focused a considerable amount attention on drums. For much of the 1870s and 1880s, directories describe White's line of work as "drums and musical instruments" suggesting that drums in fact accounted for a major segment of his business during the middle part of his career. Yet considering how long White was active, very few surviving examples of his work have been documented. This raises the possibility that some of his manufacturing was done on contract for music stores who then applied their own labels. It could also be that repair work took up the bulk of White's time while his manufacturing efforts were less prolific. And, especially in his younger days, White was likely dividing time between performing and running his shop.
Around 1887 White relocated to 48 Hanover Street where he remained through the late 1890s. From 1900 through 1904 White was listed at 144 Friend Street and in 1905 the Boston Diretory places him at 15 Marshall Street. Beginning in 1906 White is listed at 44 Merrimac Street where he remained until he last appears in 1909. Apparently having never fully retired, Ira E. White was advertised as a musical instrument maker in the Wakefield Directory as late as 1913, a year before his death in 1914.
A short death notice printed in the Boston Globe described White as "a well-known Boston musician and member of the old Boston Brass Band, Gilmore's Band and the Boston Cadet Band." A more humanizing obituary ran in the Boston Herald on Friday, February 13th, 1914 (which mispells his middle name and gives the wrong middle initial for his widow) and reads as follows:
Ira Irving White, for many years a manufacturer of musical instruments and former member of several Boston bands, died yesterday at his home on Spring street in the Boyntonville district of Wakefield as the result of a shock. He was 74 years old.
Mr. White was born in Boston but made Wakefield his home for 43 years. In earlier years he had belonged to the Boston Brass Band, the Cadet Band and Gilmore's Band. He belonged to the Unitarian church of Melrose and was a great nature lover. In his later years he devoted himself to the cultivation of flowers and plants.
He is survived by his widow, Mrs. Sarah J. White, and by four children, George E. and Louise G. White, and Mrs. Clara I. Haskell, all of Wakefield, and Mrs. Sarah E. Wilmarth of Jamaica Plain.
W. Lee Vinson is a classical percussionist, music educator, and snare drum historian. He is the author of BostonDrumBuilders.com, a website devoted to the late 19th and early 20th century drum makers of Boston, Massachusetts. Lee can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, June 1, 2021
Saturday, May 1, 2021
Further inspection of Stone & Son's early catalogs reveal that badges first appeared around the mid 1910s. This characteristic, in addition to the early McIntosh strainer stamped with the inventor's name rather than Stone's, helps date this example to the early 1910s. A leather snare anchor holds the snare wires in place against the bottom counterhoop opposite of the strainer.
A diminutive makers label, not much larger than a postage stamp, is visible inside the drum. A larger label would not have fit inside the 3" deep, one-ply maple shell.
Upon arrival, the drum was outfitted with a Geo. B. Stone & Son 'Special Transparent' snare side head, a style last offered in Stone Catalog I (ca. 1919). Unfortunatly the head was split beyond repair, so a new skin was tucked onto the existing flesh hoop.
The original 'flexible waterproof woven' snare wires are intact and in excellent working order. The sound achieved is something brighter than traditional gut, but darker and drier than coiled wire.
Do you have a Stone & Son drum? I would love to hear from you! Feel free to send Lee an email at email@example.com. And for more on George B. Stone & Son and the other turn of the century Boston-based drum makers, please visit BostonDrumBuilders.com or follow us on Instagram: @old_boston_drums.
Thursday, April 1, 2021
The "BOWER" Drum / TRADE MARK / The "BOWER" DRUM is a new creation. Invented and manufactured by the world's authority on drums and drumming, and the author and publisher of the "Harry A. Bower System." / No. 577 / Harry A. Bower / Boston, MA"
Monday, March 1, 2021
Boston's George B. Stone & Son manufactured hundreds of "Separate Tension Drums" during the 1910s and 1920s. Not all examples can be precisely dated, but there are several defining characteristics of these instruments which evolved over time making it possible to approximate the age of many drums.
The overwhelming majority of Stone & Son's Separate Tension Drums were formed around maple shells. Exceptions do exist, however, and catalogs from the early 1910s offer walnut and mahgony for an additional price. Before 1922, the Separate Tension Drums were built from thin, single-ply shells with solid maple reinforcing rings at the outer edges as well as underneath each row of tube lug posts. Depending on shell depth and the number of tube lug posts, drums typically had a total of three or four reinfocing rings.
Shortly after the Master-Model Drum was introduced, Stone & Son began using the same three-ply, 5/8" thick maple shells on Separate Tension Orchestra Drums. Larger 'Band Drums' continued to feature a thinner, lighter one-ply shell with solid maple reinforcing rings.
Geo. B. Stone & Son commonly lined each drum's air vent with a grommet. Before 1924 these grommets were always formed from wood. Grommets found on drums built in the early and mid 1910s are sometimes formed from lighter colored woods and can be bulkier in appearance. Wooden grommets used during late 1910s and early 1920s were commonly made from highly polished rosewood and often have a thinner outerfacing lip. Sometime in 1924, Stone began installing ridged, black synthetic grommets which screwed into a threaded vent hole. These threaded grommets remained in use on Stone & Son's higher end drums, including the Separate Tension models, for the rest of the company's existence.
Stone & Son began applying badges to their drums sometime in the early to mid 1910s. Drums built before this time had no badges at all. It was standard practice by about 1915 to mount a metal, oval shaped badge to the batter side counterhoop of each snare drum, oriented on the panel above the air grommet. Some mid 1910s examples have a second badge applied inside of the shell instead of a label. By autumn of 1922, new badges began appearing with the letters "INC" added to denote the company's legal incorporation a few years prior.
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LABELS & SERIAL NUMBERS
A variety of different makers labels were applied inside of Geo. B. Stone & Son's Separate Tension Drums through the years. Some examples from the mid 1910s, however, instead had a second badge fixed to the inside of the shell. (example 1) One commonly seen label from the late 1910s featured the company name in an ornate, old-fashioned font (example 2) and is sometimes trimmed to fit inside of narrow shells or between mounting hardware. This label reappears in the mid 1930s with stamped serial numbers in the 9000 range.
Labels from the very late 1910s and early 1920s tout Stone's newly published Catalog I. (example 3) New serial numbered labels began appearing in January of 1922. (example 4) The serial numbers began at 5000 and were initially accompanied by date stamps. While serial numbers climbed into the upper 9000 range by the mid 1930s, date stamping ended sometime in 1925.
The Seperate Tension drums were manufactured in dwindling quantities through the late 1920s and were included in Stone & Son pricelists as late as 1932.
Do you have a Stone Separate Tension drum? I would love to hear from you! Feel free to send Lee an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. And for more on George B. Stone & Son and the other turn of the century Boston-based drum makers, please visit BostonDrumBuilders.com.