Collector’s Showcase: Mike Curotto
Jim Messina’s Vintage Drums
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1931-32 Ludwig & Ludwig 5 x 14 Engraved 10 Petal Classic Gold Black Beauty Model
Curotto Collection - Page 8
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1931-32 LUDWIG & LUDWIG 5 x 14 ENGRAVED (10 PETAL) CLASSIC GOLD BLACK BEAUTY   My good friend and fellow collector Bill Wanser has done a lot of research to be able to date these drums, he has graciously allowed me to quote a recent email that he sent me regarding this drum.   “First I believe it is a drum from 1930-1933 for these reasons. It appears to be a ‘one piece’ shell which came to be about 1932.  Next is the ‘Classic Gold’ plating, also introduced in 1932.  The ‘Gold’ option was not offered (in the catalogs) after 1929.  (In the 1930s the government passed a law restricting the ownership of gold and stopped issuing gold coins.  I do not know what effect this had on things like gold plating but it might have influenced the use of gold for plating purposes.)  I believe your drum has the ‘Classic Gold’ plating. The 10 leaf engraving pattern I believe was introduced in 1928 and continued until the end of the engraved Black Beauty in about 1938 based on catalog research.  However, there were a few variations of that basic 10 leaf pattern.  The 1928-29 version was more bold and heavily engraved with more lines.  By 1933 the pattern became almost a single line with some lines being just straight, non-wriggle engraving.  Yours is in between.  The engraving on your drum is not as bold and elaborate as the earlier (1928-9) pattern but also not as light and straight lined as the 1933 version.  It has the 4 squared off leaf pattern of the earlier version vs. the pointed leaf version of the later pattern.  It has the parallelogram with ‘Ludwig Chicago’ the same found in the later version (1933) of the pattern. The last dating feature is the lack of a tone control or muffler.  Tone controls were offered or added beginning in the 1933 catalog.  Your drum does not have this tone control.  I have a drum without a tone control but with the lighter engraving pattern which I received from the original owner who was a Ludwig endorser.  He claimed to have received this drum from the Ludwig company in 1932-33. If his memory served him well and making all the comparisons and adding in the research done using all the Ludwig & Ludwig catalogs known and available, I would date your drum to about 1931-32.    Bill Wanser”   The SHELL:   The shell had a few dents that were easy to gently pound out. The black nickel, 10 petal engraving were well preserved as was the clear coat, all were easy to clean. As Bill mentioned the engraving pattern on this shell is “in between”, not too bold or not too sparse. I like to be thorough so I have enclosed photos of the “1928-29 version was more bold and heavily engraved with more lines” (photo is from a 1929 L & L 5 x 14 Engraved DeLuxe New-Era Sensitive) and “By 1933 the pattern became almost a single line with some lines being just straight, non-wriggle engraving” (photo is from a 1935 L & L 6.5 x 14 Engraved Classic Gold DeLuxe Standard Silver Anniversary Model). .   The HARDWARE:   The Classic Gold hardware is all there and 100% original. A little cleaning and a little polishing brought everything back to life. As an historical artifact I photo’d the gut piece that had the original snare string showing how it was attached at the factory. Of-the-era calf heads and James Snappi Snares rounded out this restoration.   Enjoy!   Mike Curotto
Hi all,   This latest addition to the collection came from Wagga Wagga, Australia. The deal was done at the Cooper, Campbell & Curotto “Hang Out Booth” at the 2016 Chicago Vintage & Custom drum Show. Thanks again goes to Mark Cooper of Cooper’s Vintage Drums for selling me this cool snare drum.   1936 LEEDY 6.5 x 14 ORIENTAL PEARL/FULL DRESS BROADWAY DUAL MODEL (No. 2182)   A word about Leedy Oriental Pearl vs. Ludwig & Ludwig Abalone Pearl:   Personally I think the two finishes are one in the same. The Leedy Drum Co. and Ludwig & Ludwig Drum Co. were both acquired by C. G. Conn Lmt. and were literally being manufactured across the way from each other so to me it makes marketing sense to keep Leedy’s Oriental Pearl separate from L & L’s Abalone Pearl. My research indicates that Leedy may have offered the finish a tad earlier than L & L. The Leedy catalog “U” (copyright 1934) states “Here, for once. man has excelled nature in reproducing the irridescent [sic] multi-colored abalone (mother-of-pearl) which the Oriental Pearl simulates”. On the other hand, the Ludwig & Ludwig Silver Anniversary Edition catalog (copyright 1935) lists their finish as “Abalone Pearl”. Oriental/Abalone Pearl was around for about 3-4 years, as early as 1934-35 and probably no later than 1938. I have seen more L & L Abalone snares than Leedy Oriental Pearl snare drums. At this writing I know of only two Leedy Oriental Pearl snare drums. I can only imagine what that finish looked like with all of the reds, greens, blues, yellows and purples.   The SHELL:   The Oriental Pearl was in great shape for an 81 year old drum although the red sparkle/silver sparkle Full Dress diamonds showed some wear but the good news is that they were all intact. There were no cracks or separations but the finish was filthy so I used Goo Gone to get rid of any dirt and grime, “schmutz” is the term that I use. After the schmutz was cleaned off of the shell I used Maguire’s #17 Plastic Cleaner, #10 Plastic Polish and #18 Clear Plastic Detailer. As you can see, the shell brightened up nicely. The Full Dress diamonds are clean but definitely look their age. The white interior was a bit soiled and cleaned up as well as can be expected. There is a strong 0236 date stamp (Feb. 1936). The badge is clean with a tight grommet and is placed at the butt side of the shell which is the normal badge placement on a Leedy Full Dress Model.   The HARDWARE:   Most of the original chromium hardware looked like it came from the Barrier Reef, somewhat pitted etc. The purchase deal with Mark included a “donor drum” from the same year so I was able to swap out the hardware. Yes, a purist viewpoint would be to leave the drum as is but I chose differently on this restoration. All of the “donor” hardware works fine and does add to this drum. The top and bottom rims are engraved with the “fish” pattern. The top snares are intact and straight but the bottom parallel snares present an interesting story.   I think all of the orchestral/symphonic percussionists out there will enjoy this next part of the article.   The Parallel Snares (bottom):   When I first saw the photos of the bottom parallel snares I had planned to swap them out for an original set of Leedy Parallel snares but when saw them in person I changed my mind. These 11 snares are not original factory snares but were expertly machined sometime after-market. Be sure to check out the photos. I chose to leave these snares on the drum as maybe this drum was concertized on at some point... Is there or was there a Wagga Wagga Philharmonic or Wagga Wagga Percussion Ensemble?   Of-the-era top and bottom calf heads rounded out this restoration.   As always I encourage you to weigh-in if you have any comments or know of any drums like this one.   Enjoy!   Mike Curotto
1936 Leedy 6.5 x 14 Oriental Pearl/Full Dress Broadway Dual Model (No. 2182)
Hi all,   I purchased this snare drum a few years ago from Zach Stewart of   1942 LUDWIG & LUDWIG 6.5 x 14 WHITE “CRYSTAL”/WHITE “CRYSTAL” PLASTIC MODERNE BI-TONE MODEL (#19)   The SHELL:   White “Crystal” is one of Ludwig & Ludwig’s rarest finishes and was only around for less than two years, 1941-42. The Crystal finish was highly distressed, more like “Crustal”, I mean really beat up... as my good friend John Aldridge would say, “this drum is as ugly as home made soap”. I used Goo Gone to remove a few layers of schmutz and then my normal plastic cleaner, polish and detailer. There was a little improvement, the shell is still pretty puny looking but this is a very rare finish so it was still worth the effort. The interior was equally as bad as the exterior so I cleaned it up the best that could be expected. There is a faint but legible 4204 (April 1942) date stamp. The badge is also pretty beat up but there is a tight grommet.   The HARDWARE:   The White “Crystal” Plastic tension casings were intact but 3 of them had a few minor cracks. They all cleaned up and polished up nicely. These tension casings are strictly cosmetic. The nickel plated hardware was in way better shape than the shell and was easy to clean and polish. The 3 pt. strainer works well and holds tight.   FINAL THOUGHTS:   I am not sure if the White “Crystal” finish was offered separately or could only be purchased with the “Crystal Outfit #1148CR. The 1941 Ludwig & Ludwig catalog states “No. 19--Moderene Bi-Tone snare drum with PLASTIC tension casings, separate tension rods, Snappi Snares and choice of Bi-Tone colors.... Blue and Gray, Brown and Tan, Black and Gold Multi-Color...ONLY.” Per the catalog it looks like L & L was pretty adamant about the “ONLY” choice of finishes. This snare drum was “parted out” from the original drum outfit.   Of-the-era top and bottom calf heads and James Snappi Snares rounded out this restoration.   Enjoy!   Mike Curotto
Hi all,   Another snare drum comes into the collection via the fertile waters of EBay. Say what you want about EBay but I have found many rare and extremely rare snare drums from this site.   1930 LEEDY 5 x 14 RAINBOW PEARL BROADWAY PARALLEL MODEL No. 2416 (First Generation)   The SHELL:   Leedy Rainbow Pearl was only offered in 1930. The Rainbow Pearl wrap was in very good shape and cleaned up nicely. This wrap has a “glue grid” backing on it as you will see in the photos. Surprisingly there were very little cracks in the finish which is pretty rare for this finish. The finish on this shell is similar to a 1930s run of Ludwig & Ludwig Peacock Pearl (see photo) which makes sense as Leedy and L & L were both purchased by C. G. Conn, Ltd. in 1929 and these snare drums were literally built across the way from each other. I am of the opinion that these finishes are the same but it makes sense product branding-wise that they kept Leedy’s “Rainbow Pearl” separate from L & L’s “Peacock Pearl”. One can only imagine what all of those blues, greens, reds, yellows, purples etc. would look like in person. The solid mahogany shell interior is very clean and the Leedy (pre-badge) wood grommet is intact.   The HARDWARE:   All of the nickel plated hardware cleaned up and polished up nicely. The Broadway Parallel mechanism on this drum is Leedy’s first generation Parallel Mechanism; everything is complete and works perfectly. The tension rods were missing as were the top and bottom rims. Thanks goes to my good friend Mark Cooper, who supplied me with the correct rims and tension rods.   Of-the-era top and bottom calf heads and wire wound snares rounded out this easy restoration.   Some Final Thoughts:   It looks like Leedy’s Rainbow Pearl was only around for one year (1930) which makes this one of Leedy’s rarest finishes. I have seen 5-6 Leedy Broadway Standard snare drums in Rainbow Pearl. This is the only Rainbow Pearl Broadway Parallel Model that I have ever seen or heard of. As always, I invite you to weigh-in with any comments or photos of your own Leedy Rainbow Pearl snare drums.   Enjoy!   Mike Curotto
Curotto Collection
1930 LEEDY 5 x 14 RAINBOW PEARL BROADWAY PARALLEL MODEL No. 2416 (First Generation)  
Hi all,   Here’s another snare drum from the fertile waters of EBay.   1924- LUDWIG & LUDWIG 4 x 14 DeLUXE UNIVERSAL MODEL (cat. #11)   Preliminary Thoughts:   Universal Model vs. Professional Model:   The L & L Universal Model appeared for the first time in the L & L 1924 catalog. The Universal shell was offered as a lighter weight, less expensive alternative to the heavier, 2-pc. brass shell Professional Model. This shell is a 2-pc. brass shell with folded over and soldered back bearing edges but a lighter version as mentioned.  The Universal rims are the “steel band” type rims vs. the nob single flanged rims found on the Professional Models. The top rim has the oval “Ludwig Universal Model” stamp. The Universal Model came with the top rim-mounted Tango Throw-Off Strainer (1922-53) and the P-84 “basket” butt plate vs. the P-338 strainer and P-85 butt plate that came with the Professional Models.   DeLuxe Finish:   As an alternative to the more expensive gold plating option L & L introduced the DeLuxe “simulated gold” Finish in the 1923 catalog. This finish was offered on the black nickel/scroll engraved Professional Model shells. The “simulated gold” finish is copper plated with some type of gold/amber lacquer.   So what we have here is a Universal Model snare drum with the DeLuxe Finish. It is generally understood that the DeLuxe Finish was only offered on the Professional Model shells but here we have another snare drum anomaly to ponder on. The most obvious and logical scenario is that this drum was “special ordered” with the DeLuxe Finish. I can hear WFL Sr. saying: “a sale is a sale, make the drum for the customer!” I did notice that this shell is nickel plated, copper plated and then black nickel plated. This is different from later DeLuxe/black nickel shells that have nickel plating under the black nickel plating. So was there an extra plating application in the early days of DeLuxe plating?   Thanks goes to Bill Wanser for helping me to date the drum and sort out all of the above information.   The SHELL:   The 4 x 14 shell is a 2-pc. shell with folded over and soldered back bearing edges but the lighter Universal version as mentioned above. The black nickel plaiting was in good shape and cleaned up well but as mentioned above, I noticed copper plating under the black nickel. I have never seen this on later 1920s- black nickel shells.  Maybe this was how L & L prepared the shells for black nickel plating in the early days. There were no extra holes or major dents.   The HARDWARE:   The DeLuxe Finish was there but under a lot of tarnish and dead lacquer. I was able to clean, polish and gold lacquer everything to a satisfactory outcome. There were a few errant tension rods and collar hooks but they were easy to replace. Most of the Tango Strainer was missing but I had a correct and complete Tango strainer in my parts stash...I knew that I would need that Tango strainer someday. Thanks goes to Les Hadnagy at Avenue Plating for matching up the parts to the original copper plating. I added the gold lacquer and there you go. I made sure that everything still looks age-appropriate   Of-the-era top and bottom calf heads and wire wound snares rounded off this restoration. Stringing single strands of gut or wire snares is my least favorite part of collecting and restoring vintage snare drums, it is a real’s like having to play Feelings, Wipe Out and the Hawaiian Wedding Song. Hats off to the snare drummers of yesteryear who had to deal with changing snares.   Final Thoughts:   A regular 1920s nob Universal Model will not shake up the vintage drum community and will most likely go un- noticed or un-interested on many auction sites. I think that the historical significance here is that this is one of the earliest examples of L & L’s DeLuxe Finish. When you add the fact that this finish was only offered on the Professional Models we can surmise that this drum was most likely a special order drum.   As always I welcome your thoughts and comments on this early and historic example of Ludwig & Ludwig snare drums.   Enjoy!   Mike Curotto
1924- LUDWIG & LUDWIG 4 x 14 DeLUXE UNIVERSAL MODEL (cat. #11)
Hi all,   This was another “big” purchase early on in my collecting. The drum was originally owned by a local vintage drum dealer named Liam Mulholland (R.I.P.) and I purchased it from a local collector named Adam Roderick. This was a very satisfying purchase in that I wheeled and dealed and sold a bunch of hardware and parts that I acquired in order to raise the $1400.00 for this drum.   1930-31 LUDWIG & LUDWIG 6.5 x 14 DeLUXE/PEACOCK PEARL SUPER-SENSITIVE MODEL   The SHELL:   The Peacock Pearl wrap is in very good shape with no dings, separations or extra holes. One can only imagine how good this finish looked with all of the reds, greens, blues, yellows and purples present. The solid maple shell interior is also in great shape. The badge is clean and the grommet is tight.   The HARDWARE:   The DeLuxe finish on the hardware is in excellent-plus condition with  minimal wear and no signs of tarnish.  The Super and Sensitive mechanisms are intact and work perfectly. There is a strong “Super Sensitive” stamp on the bottom rim.   DATING:   The Super-Sensitive Model – along with three other Sensitive Models – first appeared in the Fall 1929 Ludwig Drummer insert. It is pretty much agreed that the 1929 Super-Sensitive Models had “Super-Sensitive” engraved on the bottom rim while 1930-32 Super-Sensitive models had “Super-Sensitive” stamped on the bottom rim. Ludwig & Ludwig first introduced the internal tone control around 1932, this drum has no tone control so 1930-31 makes sense to me.   FINAL THOUGHTS:   This has always been one of my favorite snare drums. I am told that 6.5 x 14 solid maple Super-Sensitives from this era are pretty scarce.   I always welcome your comments and related stories.   Enjoy!   Mike Curotto
1930-31 Ludwig & Ludwig 6.5 x 14 DeLuxe/Peacock Pearl Super-Senditive Model  
Hi all,   I’m back in the collecting mode! I just got this from Bill Wanser and Scott Colner of Olympic Drums & Percussion in Portland, Oregon. Bill alerted me to this rare model and the deal was done.   1925-26 LUDWIG & LUDWIG 4 x 14 SOLID MAHOGANY SUPER-LUDWIG DANCE MODEL (cat. #245)   Bill Wanser of Olympic Drums & Percussion did such a good job of describing this drum that I will simply go with his description:   “Superb, Early 20th century 4” x 14” solid mahogany shell Super-Ludwig Dance Model snare drum. This is an extremely rare WOOD Shell 4” x 14”  ‘Super Ludwig’ snare drum from c.1925-1926 as shown in the attached 1927 Ludwig catalog.  This is one of the earliest versions of this popular model snare drum.  There are several interesting features on display when viewing this version of the instrument.  Even though the rims are the same size as the other size drums of the era (5” x 14” & 6.5” x 14”) the bottom rim engraving of “Super Ludwig” is much smaller.  The 10 tube lugs are the non- countersunk version dating the drum to pre 1927.  Being a pre 1927 ‘Super’ also means it did not come with snare guards. Another early feature is the individually adjustable snare unit which has 12 strands rather than the later and more common 10 strand version. We have left this drum virtually as found. There is very little wear to the original shell finish and very little wear to the original nickel plating. All hardware is original to the drum with the exception of the extension arm and thumb screw which have been replaced with reproductions. The shell finish shows only slight wear at the edges due to head friction. The shell is perfectly in round so modern heads fit and tune easily on the drum.  The body of the shell shows typical crazing of the clear lacquer finish often seen in a drum from the 1920s. There is minimal scratching and no dings or gouges in the shell. The 4” x 14” size in an all wood, solid mahogany shell is exceedingly rare in the ‘Super Ludwig’ Model. We have seen only one other example of this drum in many years of collecting and playing vintage drums. Currently the drum has new plastic heads top and bottom (Remo & Evans) with the original 12 strand individually adjustable gut snares. The instrument sounds great and would serve very well as a sensitive orchestral snare drum or as a collectable.”   A few final notes:   The drum was in great shape and accurately described but I still like to get my hands on the snare drums that I purchase so I cleaned and polished everything my own way; lemon oil for the solid mahogany shell and Cape Cod Polishing Cloths for the hardware. Bill was kind enough to outfit the drum with top and bottom calf heads. I had an era-correct thumbscrew and extension arm in my parts stash so all is good there.   Feel free to weigh-in anytime with your comments, questions or stories.   Enjoy!   Mike Curotto
1925-26 Ludwig & Ludwig 4 x 14 Solid Mahogany Super-Ludwig Dance Model (cat. #245)  
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