by Mike Curotto
Ludwig & Ludwig Triumphal #9 was located and has entered into my snare drum collection. This drum was the topic of discussion in early Sept. at Drumforum.org. The owner was seeking some information as to what the drum was and what its value would be. There were a lot of responses and a number of those posts were suspicious of the owner, the validity of the drum and the accompanying story. A few flames were thrown here and there and things got a little heated but in the end everything turned out good. A special thanks goes to Bun E. Carlos for contacting the owner about me and thanks to all of the Drumforum members who vouched for me in their posts. I contacted the owner and we started a dialog. This type of drum has to be looked at and examined in person so we arranged to meet on Sunday Sept. 28 at noon. The drum was definitely a 1920s L & L gold plated/engraved Triumphal Model so we did the deal. I have the “exact same” drum (pgs. 10-11 in my book: The Curotto Collection)...more on “exact same” later.
A brief history of ownership taken from the seller’s original Drumforum.org post and a little added information from our phone discussions: “I was given this snare drum several years ago by my stepfather, he found it in the garage of a house he had purchased, under a pile of trash in the corner. The drum has been in the family for 22 years, I’ve owned it for 10 years and the kids used to play with it. Eventually it ended up in a storage locker. I even brought it to the Antiques Roadshow but they knew nothing about the drum but they did verify that the drum was gold plated. I researched Thos H. Bloomingdale and found out that Sept. 22, 1934 was his 87th birthday.”
1925 LUDWIG & LUDWIG 4 x 14 GOLD PLATED/ENGRAVED “WILD ROSE” TRIUMPHAL MODEL (#9)
As stated earlier, the drum is definitely a 1920s Ludwig & Ludwig gold plated /engraved Triumphal Model. I did notice a few minor differences as compared to my Triumphal... 1. This drum has a 5-petal rose engraving as compared to my drum that has a 6-petal rose engraving... 2. This drum has the “Ludwig Chicago” in the same panel as the P-338 strainer as compared to my drum where the “Ludwig Chicago” is located 2 panels to the left of the strainer. Nothing earth shattering but interesting enough for me to pursue it further, ergo; was this a different engraver than my drum? I know that L & L used 3-4 different engravers in the 1920s so I asked my good friend and Italy’s gift to the custom drum making world, Adrian Kirchler (AK Drums) and fellow collector, drum historian and master engraver John Aldridge to weigh in on this. Adrian’s opinion was: “it’s not said that they’ve been engraved by two different engravers. It might also be that they’ve been engraved at two different times (maybe several months in between!?). We know that there were not many of these made, and judging from my personal experience, it’s not easy to replicate the same engraving style on more drums if you engrave them at different times .. AND without having perfect and detailed photos of the engraving on hand (that was even more difficult in the 20s) my guess: – the ‘new’ drum has been engraved several months before your and Bob’s drums were engraved. - the engraver found the more asymmetric (5 petal rose) and the location of the ‘Ludwig Chicago’ engraving not an ideal and he changed to the symmetric 6 petal rose and central logo engraving on later drums.” John’s opinion was: ”I agree with Adrian on this one. I tend to refine patterns as I go. These weren't production model drums, so variations are to be expected.” Thanks to Adrian and John whose astute observations helped me to justify this purchase. The overall condition of the shell is better than the original photos showed. The gold plating is all there and well preserved, there was a little tarnish here and there but nothing that posed any problems in the cleaning process.
All of the gold plated hardware was also in very good condition and only needed a light cleaning. The P-338 strainer was missing the thumbscrew tensioning back plate but I had the part in my parts stash. Les at Avenue Plating gold plated/matched the part for me so all is good. Aside from the 5 petal/6 petal engraving patterns the engraved lugs on this 5 petal drum are different from the lugs on my 6 petal drum.
A perfect pair of 1920s calf heads and James Snappi Wires rounded out this restoration.
Ludwig & Ludwig gold plated/engraved Triumphal Models were the flagship of the Ludwig & Ludwig Drum Co. These snare drums are extremely rare and as John Aldridge stated: “...weren't production model drums.” At $115.00 these snare drums were not very affordable so it makes sense that to date only 9 of these have been located. Noted drum historian Harry Cangany once told me he thinks that: “less than a dozen were made...” There are only 5 owners of original Ludwig & Ludwig Triumphals:
- A collector back east... 1
- A collector back east... 1
- Bun E Carlos... 1
- Bob Campbell... 1
- Mike Curotto... 5