I hope that your 2013 Holidays were filled with happiness and joy. Mine were - as I bought myself a snare drum for my birthday, December 23rd. Just the week before, I saw a post/photo on one of the forums that asked a few questions about this drum; so I “cold emailed” the owner, struck a deal and received the drum on my birthday.
There was some competition but my bid sealed the deal. The owner, Jason Dennis, told me that the drum was his grandfather’s and that he had given it to Jason approximately 25 years ago. Here’s Jason’s quote:
“So, I've had the drum for the last 25+ years. My Pap gave it to me. In speaking with my grandmother over the holidays, it turns out he never played. His wife said that he used to do estate clean-outs and that it likely was acquired in this process. In terms of provenance - best I can do: Jason Dennis, Kurvin "Pap" Dennis and that it came from a home in York, PA.”
This drum completes another “set” as you will see later on in this article.
1930 LEEDY 5 x 14 RED ONYX PROFESSIONAL MODEL
The Shell: The Red Onyx wrap was in very good condition and was easy to clean and polish. The wood grommet is perfect, the solid mahogany shell is in round and the interior is very clean. So all in all the shell was a breeze to clean and polish. From my research (thanks Rob Cook) it looks like this finish was only around for one year, 1930.
The Hardware: The nickel hardware was another story. The hardware was very dirty and very clouded so I once again had Les at Avenue Plating do his magic. The procedure is to dip the hardware in the industrial soap tank, clean off the schmutz with a very light brass wheel, “color” (polish) the dull nickel back to life and then a final wipe down to remove any left over rouge. As you can see the hardware is now cleaned and polished but it still looks its age. It looks like the previous owner decided to use 12-24 slotted screws instead of the 12-24 slotted (filister) or 12-24 square tension rods that would have come with this snare drum. Fortunately I had 16 slotted tension rods in my parts stash. The butt plate was pretty thrashed so I also swapped that out for a better one. The Speedway strainer works perfectly and the top rim has a very nice Leedy Indianapolis stamp. One observation here; over the years, having done many cleanings and restorations, I have noticed that Leedy almost always used 6-32 screws on both the Speedway strainer and butt plate whereas L & L used 4-40 screws on their P338 and butt plate.
Of-the-era Leedy Hardwhite batter head, of-the-era slunk and James Snappi Wires rounded out this restoration.
As I mentioned earlier, I was able to complete another “set”. The original Leedy 1929-30 flyers show color photos of Black Onyx, Rainbow Pearl and Red Onyx. I’ve attached a photo of my snare drums in those exact finishes but with one exception...it seems that Leedy also made an un-cataloged Green Onyx finish. The snare drum in the photo is the only example that I have ever seen or heard of in Green Onyx. As always I welcome anyone to weigh in if you have or know of any other Green Onyx drums.
Enjoy! Mike Curotto