Harry Augustus Bower
(1866 - 1948) was a prolific theater drummer, Vaudeville performer, xylophone soloist, method book author, teacher and inventor with more than a dozen patents to his name. His most prolific period as a maker was during the late 1910s and early 1920s before relocating to Southern California in 1924. The drum featured here is dated February 14, 1921.
Many of Bower's instruments were eccentric even for their time. In particular, the use of a frame mounted snare system and tubular counterhoops which doubled as flesh hoops were unique to Bower drums.
Many variables exist between one Bower drum and the next as the maker was constantly editing and evolving his own inventions. This example is formed around a figured maple shell with metal bands lining the bearing edges. A finely turned rosewood grommet adorns the air vent and an oversized makers label is applied inside of the drum.
Most Bower drum shells have no snare beds instead relying on the snare frame to keep the wires in contact with the bottom drum head. In this case, however, the shell has deeply cut beds which dictate that either the strainer or butt must be oriented directly underneath the badge. This must have been intentional on the makers part and probably explains why many Bower drums have conspicuously dented badges where the strainer often rests against the shell when engaged.
Do you have a Bower drum? I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to send Lee an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. And for more on Harry A. Bower and the other early 20th century drum manufacturers of Boston, Massachusetts, please visit BostonDrumBuilders.com or follow us on Instagram: @old_boston_drums.