Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Side Drum

Attributed to Ernest Vogt (American)
ca. 1864
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Wood, calf skin, rope
Shell height (head to head with rims): 15-3/8 inches (39.1 cm)
Head diameter: between 16-7/8 inches and 17 inches (43.1 cm)
Membranophone-double-headed / cylindrical drum
Credit Line:
The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889
Accession Number:
Not on view
This side drum from the 1860s bears a stenciled eagle design that was typical of the thousands of instruments produced for use by the Union army during the Civil War. The eagle is painted on a blue field, which means it was used in the Infantry, and a banner held in the eagle's beak bears the words REG: U.S. INFANTRY.

This instrument is a rope-tension drum. Players adjust leather tugs, or "ears," to change the tension on the ropes that zigzag back and forth across the shell around the drum. The tension on the ropes changes the pitch of the skin drumhead.

To the right of the eagle painting is a tack design. Brass tacks were used to reinforce glued shells, and the tack designs became decorative elements for drum makers and also served as a kind of maker's mark. The tack design on this drum consists of a circle around the vent hole; above and below the circle are arrows pointing toward the rims. These geometric figures are framed by two parallel rows of tacks that are parallel with the shell seam. This design is the same one used by the prolific drum manufacturer Ernest Vogt, in Philadelphia, and allows attribution to his workshop.
Marking: Faint illegible marks on heads.
Mary Elizabeth Adams Brown
Jayson Kerr Dobney, Bradley Strauchen-Scherer. Musical Instruments: Highlights of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. First Printing. @2015 by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. New York, 2015, pp. 82-83, ill.

Our Tuneful Heritage: American Musical Instruments from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exhibition catalogue., Brigham Young University. Provo, Utah, 1994, pg. 13, 77, fig. 50, ill.

A Checklist of American Musical Instruments. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1989, pg. 44, ill.

American Musical Instruments in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1985, pg. 59, fig. 38, ill.

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