Friday, October 1, 2021

ca. 1890s Blair & Baldwin Orchestra Drum

Snare drums of the late 1800s were only beginning to evolve towards the more standardized insturments of 20th century. Some of the earliest steps along this path of transformation can bee seen in this circa 1890s drum attributed to Boston's Blair & Baldwin.
1890s blair & baldwin snare drum
Though the makers label has faded to the point it can no longer be read, the lower counterhoop bears Blair & Baldwin's distinctive semicircular snare gate which was used later by their succesor, the F. E. Dodge Company, and Dodge's succesors Nokes & Nicolai. The drum also features a prominent "BB" imprint inside of the shell which presumably stands for "Blair & Baldwin".
blair & baldwin snare drum shell
antique blair & baldwin drum shell
The drum is formed around a single-ply, birds-eye maple shell with solid reinforcing rings. The shallow shell depth is a subtle forshadowing of the orchestra drums made in Boston during very early 1900s. Tensioning is accomplished via twelve prussian style rods, common in the 1880s and 1890s, and the snares are adjusted using a traditional snare strainer.
19th century snare drum strainer
antique blair & baldwin drum
Do you have a drum made by Blair & Baldwin? I would love to see it! Feel free to drop Lee a note at And for more on the early 20th century snare drum makers of Boston, Massachusetts please visit or follow @old_boston_drums on instagram.