Friday, March 20, 2009

John Robbins' Bunker Hill Drum at Old State House, Boston


Drum used by John Robbins at Battle of Bunker Hill, per Flickr post (search www.flickr.com for "boston" and "drum").

A "John Robbins" is listed as wounded at Lexington, Frothingham, R., History of the Siege of Boston, and of the Battles of Lexington, Concord, etc., p. 80.

John Robbins, Esq. (1762-1836) ... was a prominent figure in Acton's town affairs and social life. His record of public service began at the age of 13 when, as the son of the Captain of Acton's East Militia Company, he was the messenger who carried the alarm of the British march to Concord, 19 April 1775, to the Captain of Acton's Minutemen Company and to the acting Captain of the West Militia Company. From 1793 to 1830 he filled various town offices: Town Treasurer for 15 years; Town Clerk, 1 year; Selectman, 12 years; and for 8 years Town Meeting Moderator, a position for which his stentorian voice seemed admirably suited. He was also a Justice of the Peace, the Treasurer of the Town's private Social Library in the early nineteenth century and active in the preparation for the Town's centennial celebration in 1835. His wife Sally (Jones) and daughters were active in the organization of Acton's Evangelical (now Congregational) Church in 1832. John Robbins House, Great Road Acton, MA, By Robert H. Nylander, 1989.

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Compare the Robbins drum with another drum from that era with emblazonment by Charles Hubbard, discussed in a post in this blog, "William H. Guthman's Incredible Drum Collection", January 7, 2009. Given the time periods involved and the similarity of the emblazonments, one wonders whether Hubbard, who did the painting on Guthman's Boston City Guards drum (photo below) was also responsible for the Robbins' drum's painting:

612 IMPORTANT “BOSTON CITY GUARDS” MILITIA DRUM, PAINTED BY CHARLES HUBBARD, CIRCA 1824. Painted with an adaptation of the Seal of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts within flags and trumpets, the banners inscribed “City Guards” and “Instituted Sept. 1821,” the red and black striped sides within black bands, appears to retain its original skins and hoops, signed and dated beneath the shield “Chs. Hubbard./ Boston/ 1824.” Height 17 ½ inches, diameter 17 inches. Charles Hubbard (1801-76) worked in Boston from the mid-1820’s until 1869. In 1834 he advertised as a sign and ornamental painter, and painter of military standards and masonic regalia. This drum was painted for the volunteer militia regiment Boston City Guards, using their insignia adapted from the seal of Massachusetts as the decoration. Literature: Discussed and illustrated in William Guthman, “American Militia Drums, 1775-1845,” THE MAGAZINE ANTIQUES, July 1982, p. 155, fig. 12.

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