Sunday, April 13, 2008

Known for Banjos, J.H. Buckbee Made Drums Too

"America's Instrument, The Banjo in the Nineteenth Century" by P. Gura and J. Bollman, The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, p. 106 [Ed. Note: The addresses shown on the above 1890s receipt form, 1963 and 1965 Webster Avenue (in the Bronx), are one block north of Tremont Avenue in the Bronx, and one short block off the Park Avenue railroad line which runs directly those addresses (see map) -- a great location for shipping and receiving by rail.]

J.H. Buckbee Drums:

I have two drums with unique snare mechanisms, as well as a snare adjustment key running the length of the drum shell and extending just over the top. The initials "JHB" are forged into the key which looks like a banjo wrench might if it were made for a J.H. Buckbee banjo, which may be where the design came from. (The initials, J.H. stand for John Henry, per "The Banjo Monologues" liner notes, by Joel Mabus, or it could stand for James H. per "The Banjoists' Broadsheet", No. 175 for July 2001, P. 6.)

J.H. Buckbee's Time Period:

"In 1860, J. H. Buckbee began selling the first trade-name banjos (Richelieu, p. 6)."The 5-String Banjo in North Carolina by C.P. Heaton, citing for authority Richelieu, p. 6; Bacon, p. 26; Krick, "The Banjo," The Etude, 56 (Mar. 1938), 192. 7. "How to Play the 5-String Banjo" (Beacon, NY.: Pub. by the author, 1961), p. 68.

"In about 1897 two New York instrument makers, Lange and Rettberg bought the J. H. Buckbee banjo factory [383 Second Ave. according to "The Lange Banjo Ukulele"]. Buckbee of New York had been the banjo maker for many famous players, among them Farland, Foote, Converse, Bruno, Mather, H. Dobson and G.C. Dobson and produced banjos with the names of these performers as the manufacturer. Indeed, Buckbee had been the largest of the post-war banjo manufacturers and produced both handmade and mass produced instruments." "Notes on Orpheum Banjos", by Bill Reese.

And now, my J.H. Buckbee drums:

The first is a relatively plain brown wood drum and the other is an identical copy but dressed up with a gold eagle against a blue background with a banner reading, "Williamsport Rifles" (to be the subject of a future posting to this blog).

The characteristic snare adjuster (similar to a banjo key):

A unique snare mechanism:

Butt end of the snares:

Typical leather pull, tag or ear:

Double-holed carry hook:

And the other is an eagle drum, painted with a banner reading "Williamsport Rifles" (a whole other story).


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