Here’s another one to enter the “Mark Cooper Wing” of the Curotto Collection. I don’t have many Gretsch snare drums as most of the Gretsch collectables are 1950s-60s era which is a little late on the chain for me. My good friend Mark Cooper offered this drum to me so I decided to pull the trigger and purchase my first Gretsch Gladstone snare drum. Noted Gladstone expert and friend Chet Falzerano was kind enough to allow me to print his remarks:
“Those numbers are stamped into Gretsch shells with what appears to have been a branding iron. The Fatool drum has #255. I told Mark I think the snare pictured with the Gretsch Gladstone set in the Gretsch book has a higher number (sold that many years ago). The Chick drum I just put together is 128. I was thinking they may be production numbers as the Chick drum (with the lowest number I have seen) has some unusual features I have never seen before, namely the throw off lever is engraved, the key is stamped, and there is an adjustable stop inside the drum to regulate pressure of the pads against the head. I thought these features were dropped by Gretsch as a cost saving measure as the GG was THE most expensive drum on the market at the time. William F. Ludwig, Jr. recalls: 'I remember Gretsch reserving a suite at the Sherman Hotel (in Chicago)...and inviting all the Chicago drummers to see the marvelous Gladstone drum. The drum sold for $100, which was ridiculous in those days. Our top of the line drum was $35.' The 3-Way on eBay now (with the rewrap) is number 112 according to the owner. Back to the drawing board on the numbers.”
1939-41 (#279) 14 x 6.5 WMP GRETSCH GLADSTONE 3-WAY TUNING ORCHESTRA DRUM
The Shell: The 3-ply shell is in great shape and looks to be in round although the calf heads did take some Cooper-izing. The interior is clean with a huge “279” on the top re-ring that looks like it was applied by stamping the numbers into the re-ring rather than a branding iron type device (as Chet stated above). The photo gives the illusion that the 279 is “raised” but it is not. I am told that #279 is one of the highest numbered drums that has surfaced to date. The WMP is also in great shape, has a lot of white left and looks “classically aged” as I like to call it. The Gretsch Gladstone badge and the tone control adjustment badge are both very clean.
The Hardware: The Gretsch chrome plated rims were surprisingly in very good shape. The Gretsch Gladstone logo on the top rim looks like it is engraved. The tensions rods were a bit dirty but cleaned up nicely as did the strainer, butt plate and 3-way key. The single post lugs were in the best shape.
Special thanks goes to Mark Cooper for doing a great job of cleaning up this drum for me. I supplied of-the-era calf heads and the correct Duplex chrome 12-strand wires but I do have to say that after tightening the heads and tweaking the wires this drum is absolutely horrible sounding. This is not a big deal as I don’t play vintage drums, I just collect them.