Thursday, April 1, 2021

1921 Harry A. Bower Snare Drum

One hundred years ago today this Harry A. Bower snare drum was individually numbered and dated. Handwriting found inside the shell reads "Apr 1/21". The oversized makers label humbly states:

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"

Bower was a well-traveled performer on the Vaudeville circuit, a one-time member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the author of two widely used method books in the early part of the 20th century. He was also prolific inventor having been granted no fewer than thirteen patents, seven of which pertained to the snare drum. His designs were odd even for their time commonly utilizing hollow, tubular counterhoops which doubled as flesh hoops for the drumheads. Shells were often made from an unusual composite material as is the case with this example.
Bower's patented snare system was also highly unique in that the wires remained under tension via a frame which could be engaged with or disengaged from the bottom head using a simple but efficient throw-off mechanism.
Do you have a Bower drum? I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to send Lee an email at And for more on Harry A. Bower and the other early 20th century drum manufacturers of Boston, Massachusetts, please visit or follow us on Instagram: @old_boston_drums.

Monday, March 1, 2021

The George B. Stone & Son Separate Tension Orchestra Drum - Part 2: Dating Guide

General Overview | Dating Guide

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.

1922 George B. Stone & Son Separate Tension Orchestra Drum advertisement
George B. Stone & Son Catalog I Supplement, 1922


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.

1910s Stone snare drum shell interior
1910s - 1923
1920s Stone drum shell interior
1923 - 1930s

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.

wooden grommet
early 1900s - 1924
synthetic grommet
1924 - 1930s

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.

1910s George B. Stone & Son Drum Badge
Geo. B. Stone & Son Drum Badge, mid 1910s - 1922
1920s George B. Stone & Son Drum Bagde
Geo. B. Stone & Son Drum Badge, 1922 - early 1930s


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.

Stone & Son Drum Badge, circa mid 1910s
ex. 1 - circa mid 1910s
Stone & Son Drum Label, circa mid to late 1910s
ex. 2 - circa mid to late 1910s
Stone & Son Drum Label, ca. 1919 to 1921
ex. 3 - ca. 1919 to 1921
Stone & Son Drum Label, 1922 to early 1930s
ex. 4 - 1922 to early 1930s

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 And for more on George B. Stone & Son and the other turn of the century Boston-based drum makers, please visit

Monday, February 1, 2021

The George B. Stone & Son Separate Tension Orchestra Drum - Part 1: General Overview

General Overview | Dating Guide

Long before the introduction of George B. Stone & Son's iconic Master-Model drum there was the Separate Tension Orchestra Drum. Manufactured throughout the 1910s and 1920s, the Separate Tension models were Stone & Son's premier snare drum offerings before the Master-Model debuted in 1922. Catalogued as early as 1912, a strong advertising push was made to promote the Separate Tension Drums during the late 1910s.
George B. Stone & Son Advertisement, September 1918
Geo. B. Stone & Son Advertisement, September 1918
George B. Stone & Son Advertisement, July 1919
Geo. B. Stone & Son Advertisement, July 1919

Geo. B. Stone & Son's Separate Tension Drums were offered in a wide range of sizes. Catalog K, released in 1925, lists 'Orchestra' models in seven sizes: 3" x 14", 4" x 14", 5" x 14", 6" x 14", 4" x 15", 5" x 15" and 6" x 15". Half size shell depths including 3.5", 4.5", 5.5" and 6.5" were listed in earlier catalogs. Larger models, refered to by Stone as 'Band Drums', were available in sizes ranging from 8" x 15 to 14" x 17".

George B. Stone & Son Advertisement, March 1920
Geo. B. Stone & Son Advertisement, March 1920
George B. Stone & Son Advertisement, July 1922
Geo. B. Stone & Son Advertisement, July 1922

The overwhelming majority of Separate Tension Drums were produced with a natural maple finish. Stone also offered a "De Luxe" black enamel finish at an additional cost. Catalogs described this model as the "Black Beauty Separate Tension Snare Drum" predating both Slingerland and Ludwig's use of the moniker to advertise their ornately engraved metal-shell drums.

1922 George B. Stone & Son Separate Tension Orchestra Drum
Late 1920s George B. Stone & Son Separate Tension Orchestra Drum
1925 George B. Stone & Son Separate Tension Orchestra Drum
1925 George B. Stone & Son Separate Tension Orchestra Drum
William F. McIntosh's patented snare mechanism, catalogued by Stone as the "Stone Patent Snare Strainer and Muffler", came standard on all Separate Tension models. Most versions of the strainer were stamped "PAT. FEB 9, 1909" and "STONE". Earlier examples are often stamped "McINTOSH" instead of "STONE". The Separate Tension drums were not outfitted with butt plates. Instead, a simple snare anchor held the snares in place against the bottom counterhoop opposite of the strainer. Early snare anchors were leather while later ones are formed from a black, synthetic material. Advertising from the early 1910s listed "flexible waterproof woven or hand oiled and rubber gut snares" while later catalogs listed "wire-silk, amber gut, or coiled wire snares".
Stone Patent Snare Strainer and Muffler
Stone & Son Snare Anchor
Separate Tension drums were outfitted with slotted tension rods which passed through nickel plated, cast metal hooks fiting over the wooden counterhoops. Stone's proprietary tube lugs varied in length depending on the depth of the drum. Orchestra models recieved single-post tube lugs while the deeper Band models utilized longer tube lugs with two posts. Factory workers typically installed a single washer between each tube lug post and the shell. Stone's tube lugs are unique in that they were mounted using very long screws which passed from the inside of the drum, through the lug post, and all the way into the tube itself. Fourteen inch drums normally featured twelve lugs. Larger diametar drums commonly have fourteen.
Stone & Son Slotted Tension Rod
Stone & Son Tube Lug
In the next post we will have the George B. Stone & Son Separate Tension Drum Dating Guide documenting the evolution of these drums over their more than twenty years in production.

Do you have a Stone Separate Tension drum? I would love to hear from you! Feel free to send Lee an email at And for more on George B. Stone & Son and the other turn of the century Boston-based drum makers, please visit

Friday, January 1, 2021

1873 Hall & Quinby Drum

The Quinby family's long involvement in brass instrument manufacturing and their associatioin with bandleader and instrument maker David C. Hall is well documented in both the The New Langwill Index and Grove Music Online. The short version is as follows.

'Hall & Quinby' first appears in the Boston City Directory in 1866. Elbridge G. Wright joined with the Quinbys in 1870 to form 'Hall, Quinby, & Co.' Following Wright's death in 1871 the name reverted to 'Hall & Quinby'. Upon the departure of Hall from the business around 1875, the company name was changed simply to 'Quinby Brothers'. In 1884, Quinby Brothers was purchased by Thompson & Odell and became the Standard Band Instrument Company. The Quinbys left the musical instrument business after this time and went on to manufacture rotary machine shoe-brushes.

The Hall & Quinby drum featured here, with a handwritten label dated August 1873, fits neatly within the above timeline.

1873 Hall and Quinby Snare Drum

Twin brothers Benjamin Franklin Quinby (1830-1890) and George Washington Quinby (1830-1876) were reportedly building brass instruments in Boston as early as 1861. Around 1865 they were joined by elder brothers Leonard Quinby (1817-1887) and John O. Quinby (1827-1911). For all their success as instrument manufacturers and inventors (including an 1872 patent for improving military brass instruments) the Quinbys were not known as drum makers. But a surviving sales reciept documenting the purchase of "One 16 inch Brass Drum" with "Extra Engraving" confirms that Hall & Quinby did indeed sell drums.

Whether or not Hall & Quinby manufactured drums is another question. A drum from the collection of John Gibson, viewable online at the Vermont Virtual Civil War Museum, bears a D. C. Hall emblem but a label inside the shell lists its more likely source of manufacure, Asa W. White. In keeping with the focus of their business, Hall & Quinby advertising commonly depicts valved cornets or bugles.

The drum seen here likely began it's life as a common rope tension drum though numerous modifications prevent us from seeing it in original condition. Indentions in the wooden counterhoops suggest that metal Prussian style rods and claws were installed at one time. Later, a second set of holes was drilled in the hoops for the drum to be converted back to rope tension with the original holes filled and the hoops refinshed.

Hall & Quinby brass instruments commonly have ornately engraved bells. Such decorative touches are rarely seen on drums of the same era. The only hint of ornamentaion here is the wooden grommet lining the air vent and an adjustment screw for the snare mechanism which may or may not be original to the drum.

Do you have an antique Hall & Quinby drum? I would love to hear about it! Send Lee an email at And for more on the early 20th century drum makers of Boston, Massachusetts, please visit