Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Side (Snare) Drum

First half 19th century
United States
Wood, various materials
Height 33.5 cm (13 3/16 in.) Maximum diameter 42.8 cm (16 7/8 in.) Diameter of heads: approx. 38.5 cm (15 3/16 in.)
Membranophone-double-headed / cylindrical drum
Credit Line:
Gift of Anne D. Windrow, 1958
Accession Number:
Not on view
The shell and rims are the only surviving portions of this excellent example of a military drum from the United States around the turn of the nineteenth century. The drum features a large hand-painted decoration consisting of an eagle with wings spread holding a shield decorated with a blue field and red and white stripes.

At the time this drum was made, eagles were popular decorations among patriotic Americans and could be found, as a symbol of national pride, on many objects. Drums especially, because of their use in the military, were often decorated with eagles from the very earliest days of the United States. This tradition continued through the Civil War and even into the late nineteenth century.

To the right of the eagle painting is a large tack design. Tacks were used to reinforce the glued shells on early drums, and became decorative elements in their own right. The tack design used by each maker became a signature that can sometimes be used to help identify the maker of the drum. The tack design on this drum, consisting of three groups of concentric circles between two parallel lines, is an unidentified pattern.
Anne D. Windrow
A Checklist of American Musical Instruments. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1989, pg. 44.

American Musical Instruments in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1985, pg. 18, fig. 2, ill.

Hosted by Laurence Libin in Lend Us Your Ears: A Series of Twelve Radio Programs. CD. Recording., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1978.

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