1935-36 Ludwig & Ludwig Silver Anniversary Black Beauty

By Mike Curotto



Hi all,

Here’s another snare that I was able to add to the collection...fresh from the 2015 Chicago Vintage Drum Show. I got this drum from Joe Luoma, he had one to spare so we sealed the deal over the phone 3 weeks prior to the Show and culminated the deal at the Show. Thanks goes to Joe for helping me to add another cool and very rare drum to my collection. Joe’s drums are always pristine so this was an easy cleaning.


The “sparse” later 1930s 10 pt. floral engraving pattern is clean and in good shape. The black nickel is also in good condition with some normal “freckling” that is to be expected on an 80 year old drum. I just gave the shell a minor cleaning with some lemon oil and all is good.


Around 1932 Ludwig changed their Artgold (bright copper plating /gold lacquer) DeLuxe hardware option to Classic Gold (brass plating/ yellow gold lacquer). The Classic Gold on this snare drum was in very good condition and only needed a basic cleaning. The threads on the tension rods needed the most cleaning. One side of one of the tapped Imperial lugs was stripped but my good friend Al Schneider, The Drum Doctor, did his magic with a 12-24 Heli-Coil and as I’ve mentioned before, do not let stripped “Anniversary” lugs be a deal killer, there is a fix, a 12-24 Heli-Coil is the correct fix.

Of-the-era calf heads (note the tone control stamp on the top head) and James Snappi wires rounded out this simple cleaning.

Silver Anniversary Black Beauties are extremely rare, there are only 5 known at this writing and every one is different but I do realize that there is always the possibility that there are others out there. Be sure to weigh-in if you see or hear of another Silver Anniversary Black Beauty out there in vintage drum land.

Here’s a list of the 5 known Silver Anniversary Models:

  1. 5 x 14 gold plated Standard Model (Joe Luoma Collection)
  2. 5 x 14 gold plated Super-Ludwig Model (Joe Luoma Collection)
  3. 6.5 x 14 chrome plated Standard Model (Bun E. Carlos Collection)
  4. 4. 5 x 14 chrome plated Super-Sensitive Model (Mike Curotto Collection)
  5. 6.5 x 14 Classic Gold Standard Model (Mike Curotto Collection)



1929 5x14 Ludwig & Ludwig Rose Pearl Standard-Sensitive Model

 I love the Rose Pearl description by L&L: "Rose 'Pearl' is a red hot finish for red hot drummers. It has the zipp (sic), and the Pep, and is just what the collegiate chap has been looking for. Rose 'Pearl' looks best with DeLuxe rods....Prepare for that better job by getting a set of new Ludwig 'Pearl' drums.

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1925-32 Ludwig & Ludwig 6.5x15 Black Ebonized Inlay Super-Ludwig Band Model

By Mike Curotto

Hi all,

This snare drum was a gift to me from my good friend and fellow drum collector Bun E. Carlos. We had done a couple of big deals at the 2012 and 2013 Chicago Vintage Drum Shows so as a thank you Bun gifted me this drum.


The Shell:

The Black Ebonized finish (1925-1939) was originally a special order but in later catalogs it was offered at no extra cost. The finish shows its age but is all there and cleaned up nicely with a product called Naphtha. I just learned about this product from a friend who does a lot of custom woodworking. I am happy with the outcome as this product did not harm the finish. The Black Ebonized finish is also high-lighted with two “decorative” faux inlay decals that surround the shell. The solid mahogany shell interior is in good shape and is factory-marked ”BLACK”. The brass oval badge is clean with a tight grommet. There is no tone control, definitely pre-1933.

The Hardware:

The nickel hardware is all original but it definitely needed a good cleaning and polishing. Everything came out great. The Super mechanism works perfectly. The bottom rim has the stamped “Super Ludwig” which puts it after the earlier engraved “Super-Ludwig” models. The original Super wires are intact and work well.

Of-the-era top and bottom calf heads rounded out this restoration. These 6.5 x 15 Super-Ludwig Band Models are classic examples of a great era. Thanks again goes to Bun E. Carlos for gifting me a great drum.




The WWII Collection

"Here are a couple of pics of the World War II collection. The L&L is completely restored. The 1st version WFL (with the rolling bomber snare) werepurchased new, played for a year at home and put in the closet for 70+ years - they still have the original Calf heads on them. I am the 2nd owner. A BDP Rollin Bomber kit with a very rare 10" off set lug tom. I am the second owner as well. At the show I will also have a 1st version (Cecil Stupe design) WFL internal tune kit in WMP that I am restoring."

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The Tuxedo & Black Beauty

“No Drum Left Behind" - the restoration of an engraved 1920sC.G. Conn Tuxedo and early 1930s Ludwig & Ludwig Black Beauty


There comes a time when every vintage drum collector finds a “diamond in the rough” and has to decide either to: 1) keep it original (but flawed), 2) do some restoration work, or 3) walk away from the deal. From a purist’s perspective, any change to a vintage drum will greatly diminish, if not destroy, its value. However, I would argue that there are times when salvaging a drum through expert restoration is truly warranted. Here are two such examples…

Some time ago, I stumbled across two such “rough diamonds” on Ebay. One auction had no other descriptor than “1920s-30s C.G. Conn 5X14 Brass Snare Drum.” I looked closely at the pics by eye and thought I saw some engraving on the shell. To examine it further, I downloaded the auction pics and zoomed in using Photoshop. Lo and behold, it looked like a 1920s C.G. Conn engraved Tuxedo with the characteristic four diamond cross pattern! The inside of the shell still retained the black nickel so I was pretty certain the outer black nickel plating had been removed. I won the auction for a very reasonable amount, so the thought of black nickel re-plating seemed like a worthwhile investment. When the drum arrived, my presumptions were confirmed. It was indeed an 8-tube lug, 1920’s Conn Tuxedo with “Made by C.G. Conn LTD, Elkhart, IN U.S.A.” stamped on the upper hoop, 4-screw “Presto-like” strainer, Knobby Gold hardware and shell engraving in beautiful condition. Next, I set about to do some research on what it would take to properly restore this drum. I needed to think long and hard about this, as it required additional investment and had to be done correctly if done at all. Meanwhile, another orphan drum serendipitously crossed my sights on Ebay.

This time, the drum was clearly identified as a “1920s-1930s engraved Ludwig Black Beauty.” The early 1930s art gold hardware looked amazingly well preserved for its age: 10 brass tube lugs, timepiece strainer; smaller, more rounded snare gates, “Super-Ludwig” embossed on the bottom hoop in block letters. The logo engraved on the shell was somewhat unusual, reading “Ludwig – Trademark” rather than the usual “Ludwig, Chicago U.S.A.”, and bounded by a rectangular box (actually, a parallelogram as I was corrected by my daughter) one panel to the left of the strainer. The catch was that the engraving was thoroughly blackened with none of the brass visible. During its lifetime, the drum had either been painted black or poorly re-plated. I took a gamble and placed a winning bid, hoping that there was some original black nickel underneath. When I got the drum, I sent pics out to Mike Curotto and Harry Cangany for their thoughts on the shell. None of them could be certain from the pictures whether it was black paint or nickel. So off the drum went to Mike Curotto’s shop for closer examination. A short time later, Mike gave me the unfortunate news - the drum had been painted and no black nickel remained.

This now left me with two wonderful vintage drums whose hardware was in great shape, the original engraving intact, but stripped down to the brass. I consulted Harry Cangany about restoration, weighing the concerns of valuation/devaluation vs. preservation. I finally came to the conclusion that these two drums needed to be brought back to life, to the way they looked in the 1920s and 30s (fortunately, Harry agreed ☺). This was not about vintage drum investment but more so about preserving our drum heritage.

I was convinced re-plating was the right thing to do. So, I contacted the amazing drumsmith, Adrian Kirchler (“AK”), in Italy. I was aware that AK not only made great drums for Ludwig (100th Anniversary Triumphal) and Craviotto (AK/Craviotto Masters Metal series, 10th Anniversary Black Diamond) but also was the only craftsman in the world who could re-plate engraved drums and leave the engraving shining brightly through the black nickel. Mike, who had the drums in his shop, kindly sent them shells to Adrian for re-plating. Mike kept the hardware to polish/buff up and spray a coat of clear lacquer. As Mike says, “rust never sleeps."

About six weeks later, the drums arrived at my home. I think the pictures speak well to the outstanding work of AK, together with the gentle, expert cleaning by Mike Curotto. I have no regrets. The drums are beautiful. They have been kept intact with original or period-correct hardware and original engraving. However, now the artistry of the engraving glistens against contrasting dark, black nickel as it once did almost century ago. The drums are whole again. I feel content that two drums have been saved from the scrap heap, and now serve as gleaming historical artifacts of early drum craftsmanship. I guess it’s the next closest thing to a time machine… I just wish I could bring back the original owners in order to hear how the drums sounded in their hands. I’ll just have to settle with playing them myself and pretending…

Best wishes, Bob

Many thanks to Harry Cangany, Mike Curotto and Adrian Kirchler who kindly provided guidance, encouragement and their talents to this project.


L&L 1920s Brass Oval Badge

Hi George, I was wondering if you might know where I could find a L & L 1920's brass oval badge in nice shape. I've made a few contacts to date and have someone checking for me at the Connecticut and Chicago drum shows, but was hoping through your own contacts, you might be able to point me in a specific direction. Thanks very much for any assistance you can offer and also wanted you to know, NSMD is looking great these days.. nice job!

Best regards, Joe Czulinski


Hey Joe, I don't have any in stock, but I'll post your request. Anyone?


Bob Campbell's 1920s Ludwig & Ludwig Wild Rose Triumphal

The Robert M. Campbell Collection - “1920’s Ludwig & Ludwig 4 X 14” Wild Rose pattern engraved, gold-plated Triumphal, Standard Model”  - by Robert “Bob” Campbell

As a collector, there are those “holy grail” or “desert island” snares that you hope one day to find, and with some good luck and sufficient cash, possibly own. At the 2013 Chicago Drum Show, I had the good fortune to be seated next to Bun E. Carlos during the filming of a Vintage Drums Talk segment by Jim Messina, www.vintagedrumstalk.com, www.youtube.com/watch?v=YrOuznVG2ZU). I’m not sure how the conversation started but Bun E. began telling me some stories about the legendary Charlie Donnelly (Connecticut drum store owner and vintage drum expert who Steve Maxwell credits as “the person responsible for jump-starting me down the path of vintage drums.”) This progressed to talk of our collections. I mentioned that I had purchased a Ludwig 1928 Gold Triumphal 100th Anniversary Reissue from Steve Maxwell. However, I said, “I really wanted an original 1920’s Ludwig & Ludwig Triumphal.”

To my surprise, Bun E. said something like, “I have one that I might sell. Are you seriously interested?” I, of course, replied with a most eloquent answer, “Umm, really?” So then and there, we made a deal.

Bun E. kindly invited me to pick up the drum at his storage barn. His amazing, expansive collection is a story for another time but I did get the Triumphal, signed by Bun E. on the inside of the shell.

I was very curious about the history of the drum and asked Bun E. for some background information. He referred me to Steve Maxwell, who originally acquired this Ludwig & Ludwig Triumphal. Steve said the fellow who had the drum obtained it in Chicago from his teacher in the 1950’s. He didn’t play it much then because it was “so nice”. When the seller contacted Steve, he hadn't played in 20 years and wanted to see how much it was worth. Steve provided this interesting account of how this unique, historic drum serendipitously came into his shop:

“I get a call out of the blue from a guy who says he has a metal Ludwig rare drum and since he's in his 70s and living on social security he figures he might as well try to sell it and see if it's worth a few dollars. I asked him to describe it and he told me it was a 1920’s Ludwig. He thinks it's a 5", then again maybe a 4x14”; and he said it was engraved. So, I assume he's talking about a regular Black Beauty, so I ask if the shell is black with engraving showing through, and he says, "No, it's a gold color". So, now I figure that he's got a stripped shell that was originally an engraved black beauty since we see that sort of thing from time to time, and therefore value is a lot lower. So, I ask him about the engraving pattern and if it is floral (and I describe the typical 10-point and 12-point floral) and he says "no". So I describe the typical scroll pattern and again he says "no". So I ask him what the pattern looks like and he says, "it's sort of like a flower". Now, the LAST thing I am thinking is that this might be another Wild Rose pattern Triumphal. I simply figure that he has a 1920’s era Standard that may have been nickel over brass, non-engraved; and I figure someone stripped it, polished the shell, and did a home-made engraving job. So, I tell the fellow to bring it in and I'll have a look. In the back of my mind, I'm thinking that this is maybe a $500-$700 player's drum. However, I didn't say that because I didn't want to disappoint him. So I figured I should just keep quiet until I actually saw the drum.

About a week later, he comes into my store with a drum case. I opened the case and just about passed out on the spot! Looking up from the case was an absolutely incredible 4x14” 1920’s era Wild Rose pattern Ludwig Triumphal. I told the guy to sit down because we had to have a serious talk here...

I pulled out Mike Curotto's book (Vintage Snare Drums: The Curotto Collection, Volume I) and turned to the page where Mike describes his Wild Rose, the only one that ever surfaced. I tell the guy that his drum is now only the second one in this pattern that has surfaced, and in fact is now the 8th Triumphal since only 7 other examples overall are known to exist.

As I mentioned in an email to Bun E, I could have bought this drum from the guy for a song since he needed cash, but I encouraged him to let me broker it on consignment so that he'd get a significantly higher amount than if I were to buy it outright. I told him that I felt we could move the drum fairly quickly for him. Then I told him what I thought we could get for the drum, and he almost passed out! He agreed to consignment so I then contacted Bun E and a few other people who I knew would be interested. Bun E grabbed it immediately. I delivered it to him in person, and the rest is history. It was a nice deal all around because the transaction was really life changing for the seller, and the drum went to someone who appreciated it (Bun E.), and now it's in your hands, which is great.” Many thanks to Steve for providing this wonderful story… Now if I could only find out who was the original owner prior to the 1950’s!

I am an avid believer that our drum history needs to be preserved and handed down to the next generation before it is lost forever. I am merely the custodian of this drum until it passes to the next owner. While I could not get the exact provenance of this Triumphal, I have captured all that I know in this article. If anyone has any information about the origins of this drum (or questions), please feel free to contact me at fallendrummer@me.com.

Brief background on the Ludwig and Ludwig Triumphal snare drum:

The Ludwig & Ludwig Triumphal snare drums were truly exceptional in their day, coincidentally only a few years before the great Stock Market crash of 1929 (e.g., 1925-1928). They were the pinnacle of drum making; gold-plated and ornately hand-engraved on the shell, hoops and even the lugs. My drum is indeed a 4 X14”, 8-lug gold-plated, engraved Ludwig & Ludwig Triumphal Standard Model with the Wild Rose pattern. The center-beaded, two-piece soldered shell is quite heavy for a 4 X14” (although I guess not atypical for brass shell drums of the period). As noted by John Aldridge in his “Guide to Vintage Drums”, the Triumphal like Black Beauties of the period had an air chamber inside the bearing edge, i.e., formed by bending back the last ½ inch of bearing edge at a 90 degree angle and soldering it to the shell. Upon close inspection, I did not find a weld so assume this is a spun brass shell. To date, it is only the second known to exist with the Wild Rose pattern and perhaps only 1 of 8 total Triumphals that have survived.

Acknowledgements: Many thanks to Steve Maxwell, Bun E. Carlos and Mike Curotto for all the input, encouragement and shared wisdom.