Very Rare John G. Pike Civil War Militia Drum

Very Rare John G. Pike Civil War Militia Drum


Description: Remarkable Antique Civil War Drum | This very rare Drum has the original stenciled decoration | The Drum is of folk art militia style and bears manufacturer label of John G. Pike of New York, circa 1860-80 | Drum is made of Rosewood and Birdseye Maple and is in excellent condition for its age | Has original straps | Measures 15″ high and 16 3/4″ diameter | A militia drum labeled by John G. Pike is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is illustrated at page 63 of American Musical Instruments in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lawrence Lubin, W.W. Norton & Co, 1985, which states: “John G. Pike made one of the few attributable American drums in the collection (Fig. 43). Inside its shell is Pike’s printed label, listing his stock in trade: Premium Drums. Bass Drums! for brass and martial bands-2 to 3 feet Head. SNARE DRUMS, the double or lined stave drums, Made of Rosewood and Birdseye Maple, also the common maple and Boy’s drums, of all sizes, kept constantly on hand. Repairing Done on Short Notice. JOHN G. PIKE, Mitchell Street, Norwich, N. Y. Pike (b. Plymouth, Chenango County, N.Y., December 23, 1815; d. Norwich, N.Y., July 1, 1884) married Sarah D. Haight of neighboring Smyrna. It was after their fifteen-year-old son’s death in 1853 that the couple moved to Norwich, where they subsequently bought and sold several parcels of land. On November 4, 1854, the Chen­ango Union reported the opening in Norwich of the John A. King & Co. piano factory; Pike, a leading partner, owned the building. The factory did not prosper for long, and by 1867 Pike was pursuing the drum maker’s trade. This occupation was not unrelated to another local industry, the making of cylindrical wooden cheese boxes. New York was the nation’s leading cheese-producing state after 1851, when Jesse Williams established America’s first cheese factory in Rome, Herkimer County, forty-seven miles north of Norwich. Upstate dairies used great quantities of drumlike cheese boxes, and it is probable that more than a few “white coopers” produced drums. At any rate, the front room of Pike’s East Main Street house was furnished as a salesroom, with walls full of drums hung from nails. As late as 1883 the Norwich directorv listed Pike as a drum maker, though failing health and poor vision had forced him to curtail manufacture some years earlier. A respected Republican and member of the Congregational church, Pike was known throughout town as an able mechanic. The Mu­seum’s Pike bass drum measures about twenty­eight inches in diameter, a standard small size convenient for parades. Its mahogany-colored hardwood shell has red hoops, and blue-shaded gold decoration instead of tacks around the air hole. Pike could have purchased ready-made the calfskin or cheaper sheepskin heads he used, as well as the standard Italian hemp cords, tinned iron hooks, and leather “ears,” but the shell and hoops he surely made himself, carefully lapping the joints and reinforcing the laminated, stave­built cylinder with internal ribs at top and bottom. James Robb, drummer of Johnson’s Band in Nor­wich, had a Pike bass drum like this one, which he claimed was the best he ever played.”
Dimensions: 15" x 16.75" x 16.75"
Artist or Maker: John G. Pike
Date: 19th Century
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