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Wonderful painted U.S. militia drum. Just fragments of the label are left inside, but a piece of its bottom edge shows a North Third Street address, the location of the W. H. Horstmann firm at two different street numbers from 1818 to 1854 (though they did not advertise in the military goods business until 1828.)

The tack design is typical of the Germantown drum makers and Col. J. Craig Nannos has been kind enough to consult his files on the subject and point to William Ent as the likely maker and supplier of the drum to Horstman for retail sale. Stylistically,the eagle could date to the 1840s. The label provides a latest possible date of 1854.

The eagle is dynamic, posed with feathered arrows clutched in its right claw (low on viewers left,) and an olive branch higher up its left claw. The drum measures 16 inches high overall, and 16 inches in diameter (outside rim to outside rim.) The eagle is in great condition with very little paint loss. Please see the photos.

The original varnish has yellowed slightly, giving the background a slight greenish tone. The areas concealed by the rims and flesh hoops shows the light blue. Some prefer to have the varnish removed by a conservator, which will restore the overall light blue background. I have left it as found.

The rims have been on it forever and look fine, but the lower rim is actually 1 1/2 inches tall and the upper rim is 1 5/8 inches. (There is also a Roman numeral carved in the upper edge of the lower rim, but not in the upper rim.) The heads are old. The top shows a narrow 1-inch slit with no material missing, and signs of an old square patch. The bottom head has a slight tear near one edge. Both heads seem stable, however. No snare is present, but the original was probably the early type, held and adjusted by the rope tension on the rims since there is no sign of a mechanical tightener.

When I bought this at a charity auction, it was said to have come out of Connecticut. The drum is, however, indisputably Philadelphia, and certainly came out of a collection. A modern replacement rope made of sisal and nine of the original (or at least period) tighteners were inside the drum. I have re-roped it using the tighteners and a natural linen 1/4 inch rope. One of the ten tighteners is a fragment of a period one I had lying around and is just wrapped around the rope for display. I have not put any real tension on the rope, of course, and have left the tighteners at their highest positions to avoid any stress and make the eagle more visible. The rope can easily be removed or replaced.

I will cover the shipping and insurance. NY addresses, unfortunately, still must add the sales tax or provide a resale number.