Well, one of my “Holy Grail” snare drums was finally located and has entered the Curotto Collection. This is the only one that I have ever seen or heard of. The only reference that I am aware of is on page 4 of the 1934 Slingerland Drum Company catalog. The DUALL “RADIO” MODEL All Metal Drum was offered in a “5 x 14 or 6.5 x 14 shell depth, chromium or nickel plate finish, engraved black metal shell with chromium fittings or engraved black metal shell with Art Gold fittings”. The drum that I was fortunate to locate is catalog No. 43, "engraved black metal shell with Art Gold fittings."
This drum was found on a shelf in a middle school art classroom. The seller’s girlfriend alerted the seller who then made the deal with the school. The seller had originally contacted my good friend and fellow collector Steve Maxwell who then contacted me. Steve was gracious enough to allow me to contact the seller personally and the rest is history. So special thanks goes out to Steve Maxwell, to the seller Steven Gouty, to Mark Cooper (more on Mark later) and to Dave Brown of the UK who was cheering me on all the way through this deal. A final twist to this story is the fact that only three weeks earlier at the 2013 Chicago Vintage Show, Mark Cooper, Dave Brown and I were all wishing out loud how cool it would be if an engraved/Art Gold DUALL showed up at The Chicago Show!
1932-34 SLINGERLAND 5 x 14 ENGRAVED/ART GOLD DUALL “RADIO” MODEL
THE SHELL: So much for the good news...the shell was completely painted in white enamel, white lacquer or white something that took about two hours out of my life to strip. I was able to completely strip all of the white paint off of the shell and after a thorough cleaning and polishing I took the shell to Brian at Avenue Plating for a final lacquer clear coat. There were a few minor dents but nothing that I couldn’t take care of myself. The white paint actually protected the black nickel and the engraving. The shell is the lighter weight brass shell that Slingerland used on their 1928-32 nickel plated Artist Models and Artist Model Black Beauties, probably similar to the 1930s single piece shells that Ludwig & Ludwig used but definitely lighter than the 1919-29 L & L heavier two-piece brass shells.
I found a pair of calf heads that sat high enough on the shell so all of us can see the full engraving pattern.
THE HARDWARE: A lot going on here. The drum was missing 16 tension rods/washers, 16 collar hooks, the extension lever/thumbscrew, some assorted DUALL mechanism parts, the DUALL wires and the Harold Todd tone control. The existing double-flanged rims, 10 tube lugs and DUALL mechanism were pretty rough in that the Art Gold was almost all gone. I had a Todd tone control in my parts stash that I almost sold a few weeks earlier. Enter my good friend and fellow collector Mark Cooper of Cooper’s Vintage Drums. Mark was kind enough (I know I’ll pay for this someday) to sell me an intact Gold Sparkle/Art Gold DUALL Model that I was able to use as a “donor” drum for this important project. In order to make my drum function properly I had to do a little swapping out of the DUALL mechanisms. A few of these parts needed special attention so my machinist/welder Abe Abello of Weld-Tec was able to do the final tweaking and he was able to save the original parts. Abe is worth his weight in gold! The DUALL stamp is located in an unusual place at the bottom of one of the snare guards and the usual “manufacturer’s cartouche” markings on the snare guards are “6” and “66”. The Art Gold hardware from the "donor" drum needed a little cleaning and restoring but everything turned out great and all of the Art Gold hardware still looks age-appropriate.
- The engraving pattern on this DUALL Model is more ornate than the engraving pattern Slingerland used on their earlier Artist Model Black Beauties. This is in contrast to Ludwig & Ludwig’s more sparse 6 + 4 flower engraving pattern that they were using as they were winding down the production of their Black Beauty Models of the same era.
- It is interesting that Slingerland called this drum the “Radio” Model even before the Broadcaster and Radio King Models were introduced.
- The DUALL mechanism on this metal drum is different from the wood DUALLs that I own (and have seen) in that there is no internal connecting rod running across the diameter of the shell. The DUALL mechanism simply engages/disengages the wires from the lever side but not as much from the butt side. This has become a mystery for me (and some friends) as we have tried to figure out how the DUALL mechanism on this drum differs (works) from the wood shell DUALL Models. You can clearly see at the butt plate side that there is no upper linkage but only the lower external DUALL mechanism. The hole above the butt side mechanism does not line up with that mechanism so this tells me that it is the factory air hole which is in the exact same place as my nickel plated 10 lug Artist Model of the same era (see photo). What I need here is an example of a DUALL “RADIO” MODEL All Metal Drum so I can physically see what's going on. I am asking anyone out there that has this model to please contact me.
In the meantime, the mystery continues...
Enjoy! Mike Curotto
(editor's note - See Mark Cooper's new column in this issue)