"E Pluribus Unum" Hand-Painted Union Civil War Military Snare Drum

Presented is an original, painted Union Civil War military snare drum. The wooden body of the drum displays a glorious Union eagle. The eagle has a U.S. shield on its chest, outstretched wings, and is grasping an olive branch and arrows in its talons. It is surmounted by the motto: "E PLURIBUS UNUM", as well as sun rays and stars. The drum's hoops are painted a deep blue. 

The paper maker's label within the instrument indicates it was manufactured by C. & F. Soistmann of Philadelphia. The drum has its top and bottom skin intact and what appears to be its original cords and leather tabs, as well.

Drum manufacturing was an established industry in America long before the Civil War. With very few exceptions, drums were made of ash or maple wood, had calfskin heads, and were rope tension. The design and construction of mid-19th century rope tension drums was based on established methods of drum manufacturing, more than three centuries old. In general, a cylindrical wooden shell was used, with calf skin drumheads stretched on wooden hoops over both ends. The edges of the skin were soaked and then tucked around the circular hoops. These hoops were held in place  by wooden counter hoops, with the tension on the counter hoops controlled by a rope laced through holes drilled into the hoops. Leather braces, each one surrounding two adjoining ropes, were used to adjust the tension of the heads.

The outbreak of the Civil War created an enormous demand for percussion instruments. Ordnance Department records indicate that the US Army purchased over 32,000 drums from April 1861 through December 1865. Many government and state contracts did not specify exact dimensions or designs for drums. The result was wide variances in size and dimension. 

Overall a very good, displayable example. Original cords, leather tabs. The original paint is about 90% intact, with chips and age-expected fading but still vibrant. The top skin remains intact, while the bottom skin has one small tear. All fittings, ties, etc. are present and intact. A small leather buckled harness remains wrapped around the body of the drum, though it appears not to be original to the piece. Dimensions: 13 3/4" Tall,  16 1/2" Diameter.


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