Collector’s Showcase: Mike Curotto
Jim Messina’s Vintage Drums
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1950-1955 Leedy & Ludwig 5 x 14 “Zebra” Broadway Model
Hi all, I got this drum from Bun E. Carlos at the 2013 Chicago Vintage Drum Show. Bun E. had the only two known Leedy & Ludwig Zebra snare drums, a 4 x 14 Broadway New-Era and a 5 x 14 Broadway Standard. He sold me the 5 x 14 Broadway Standard. The drum was previously owned by Mark Cooper of Coopers Vintage Drums and a special thanks goes to Mark for the additional info on this drum. Bun E. also helped me to authenticate the Zebra finish by giving me a few photos of his Leedy & Ludwig “Salesman Sample” floor tom shell that shows the Zebra finish as one of the samples. Bun E. added this: "The wrap was available to the general public. Aside from your drum, and my 5 drums, I've seen only 2 other Zebra drums, a big bass drum and floor tom on EBay a few years back. Only 8 drums, rarer than an original Triumphal!!!!! Haha!!"...? I love Bun E.’s wry sense of humor.   1950-55 LEEDY & LUDWIG 5 x 14 “ZEBRA” BROADWAY STANDARD MODEL   The Shell: Mark Cooper told me that the shell was originally painted black when he got the drum. I must commend Mark on the excellent job of removing the black paint and preserving the original Zebra finish. I still had to get my licks in so I did some additional cleaning and polishing. The shell brightened up nicely. The badge is clean with a tight grommet. There were three extra holes, one at the strainer where a P-85 was probably added at one time and two at the butt plate where it looks like a regular butt plate had replaced the original extended butt plate. Fortunately the holes were small (approx. 6-32) and were easily repaired by my good friend Al Schneider (the original Drum Doctor). The white interior shows its age but is in original condition. There was no visible date stamp, it was probably worn away over the years.   The Hardware: All of the nickel plated hardware was in very good shape and cleaned/polished up nicely. No parts were missing.   I found a nice pair of Leedy & Ludwig logo calf heads that fit perfectly. The drum came with original Leedy & Ludwig logo wires.   The story goes that the Zebra finish was made for The Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus. There was an RB B & B Circus advertisement showing a Zebra drumset. I vaguely remember it but I have not been able to locate it. Feel free to weigh in if you know of this advertisement or any other Zebra drums.   Enjoy!   Mike Curotto 
Curotto Collection - Page 6
Hi all, Here’s the latest snare drum to enter the collection. I have known about this drum for a few years. The previous owner is a very nice gentleman named Chuck Nusbaum. Chuck kept his word and gave me first choice on his drum. One of the last things we have is our word and I think that was very classy of Chuck to honor his word. Chuck told me that he found the drum in a small music store in Cleveland. We did the deal and here we are. Slingerland DuAll models are extremely rare, especially the 6.5 x 14 models.   A very brief history for those that may not know the history of the Ludwig Super vs. Slingerland DuAll battle: Ludwig & Ludwig had the patent (1924) for their parallel (Super-Ludwig) mechanism. Along comes Slingerland with their version of a parallel mechanism that they called the DuAll model. Ludwig felt that Slingerland’s DuAll mechanism was infringing on their Super-Ludwig mechanism so they sued Slingerland and won. The court ordered Slingerland to discontinue their DuAll model and I seem to remember reading that Slingerland had to pay L & L the money that was made on their sales of the DuAll models. DuAlls were in production for less than two years so these snare drums are extremely rare. I am aware of probably 20 5 x 14 models and only 3-4 6.5 x 14 models. More on this in The Hardware section of my article.   1932-34 SLINGERLAND 6.5 x 14 DUCO DUALL MODEL   The Shell: The solid maple shell is in great shape as can be seen in the interior photos. The Duco finish is in very good shape but still shows its age. All that was needed was a light cleaning/dusting. Granted the Duco finish is not as sought after or as popular as the pearl finishes but I do believe that the overall rarity of these drums is more important than the finish. The cloud badge is clean with a tight grommet.   The Hardware: All of the nickel hardware is original and cleaned/polished up nicely. I own snare drums with three different interior versions of the DuAll mechanism: 1. A center post very similar to if not a direct copy of the Super-Ludwig center post. 2. An interior “pulley” type mechanism instead of a center post. 3. No center post and no “pulley” mechanism. This version of the interior attaching hardware seems to have been factory sealed at both ends where a center post would have originally been. I have included photos of all three examples. My theory is that version #1 was the original DuAll mechanism that triggered the patent lawsuit. Version #2 was a “work-around” that was tried after the court decision. Version #3 was the last attempt before the DuAll model was discontinued. The drum in this article has version #3. This drum does not have a Tone Flange as is the case with my other two “pulley” mechanism DuAlls. My observations of the three versions of the DuAll mechanism show that only the “first” version (center post) came with Tone Flanges while versions “two and three” were not equipped with Tone Flanges.  The manufacturer’s cartouche markings on the snare gates are “A” and “AA”.   Original calf heads from The Harmony Shoppe and original snares rounded out this cleaning/restoration.   I always welcome your feedback, added information and comments so feel free to weigh-in on this drum or any similar drum that you may have or know of.   Enjoy!   Mike Curotto
1932-34 Slingerland 6.5x14 Duco Duall Model
Hi all, A few years ago I was contacted by drummer/educator Ed Soph who wanted some information about this drum. I told him what I knew and after a few months I was able to purchase the drum from Ed. Over the years I have discovered three versions of the Slingerland DuAll mechanism: 1. A center post very similar to if not a direct copy of the Super- Ludwig center post (usually equipped with a Tone Flange). 2. An interior “pulley” type mechanism instead of a center post (no Tone Flange). 3. No center post and no “pulley” mechanism (no Tone Flange). This snare drum has the “pulley” mechanism.   1932-34 SLINGERLAND 5 x 14 SPARKLING GREEN ARTIST DUALL MODEL (“PULLEY” VERSION)   The Shell: Green Sparkle from the 1930s is notorious for having black “cancer” spots. Fortunately this drum is cancer free. The finish had the normal years of accumulated schmutz but everything cleaned up and polished up nicely. The interior of the solid maple shell was very clean with no re-ring separation other than a 2” section, no big deal. The shell has normal bearing edges top (no Tone Flange) and bottom . The cloud badge is very clean with a tight grommet. Lastly, a nice factory pre-assembly artifact was found on the interior of the shell...”Maple DuAll”.   The Hardware: The nickel hardware was in great shape and was very easy to clean and polish. There were a few errant tension rods but I had the era-correct replacements in my parts stash. The internal DuAll “pulley” mechanism is clean, well built and looks kind of artsy. The mechanism is smooth, works well but is not as solid as the center pole version that brought on the patent lawsuit by Ludwig & Ludwig. I’ve included interior and exterior photos of this version of the DuAll mechanism. The reader will clearly see the similarities to the already patented L & L Super-Ludwig mechanism of the same era. The manufacturer’s cartouche markings on the snare gates are “L” and “LL”.   The Slingerland Artist DuAll Model was only in production for approximately two years and due to this very limited production run Slingerland DuAlls are extremely rare. As far as my snare drum collection goes, my un-scientific guesstimate based on the number of Slingerland DuAlls I own vs. the number of L & L Super-Ludwigs I own is about 15:1 meaning for every DuAll I own there are 15 Super-Ludwigs that I own. If we look at the more realistic bigger picture out there in the collecting world my guestimate is more like 100:1. That’s just my very un-scientific observation. As always, feel free to weigh-in on the subject as I look forward to your comments and added information.   A nice Frank’s Drum Shop calf batter head, Slingerland slunk head and the original snares rounded out this cleaning/restoration.   Enjoy!   Mike Curotto
1932-34 Slingerland 5x14 Sparkling Green Artist Duall Model “Pulley” Version
Hi all, This snare drum was a gift to me from my good friend and fellow drum collector Bun E. Carlos. We had done a couple of big deals at the 2012 and 2013 Chicago Vintage Drum Shows so as a thank you Bun gifted me this drum. 1925-32 LUDWIG & LUDWIG 6.5 x 15 BLACK EBONIZED/INLAY SUPER-LUDWIG BAND MODEL   The Shell: The Black Ebonized finish (1925-1939) was originally a special order but in later catalogs it was offered at no extra cost. The finish shows its age but is all there and cleaned up nicely with a product called Naphtha. I just learned about this product from a friend who does a lot of custom woodworking. I am happy with the outcome as this product did not harm the finish. The Black Ebonized finish is also high-lighted with two “decorative” faux inlay decals that surround the shell. The solid mahogany shell interior is in good shape and is factory-marked ”BLACK”. The brass oval badge is clean with a tight grommet. There is no tone control, definitely pre-1933.   The Hardware:   The nickel hardware is all original but it definitely needed a good cleaning and polishing.  Everything came out great. The Super mechanism works perfectly. The bottom rim has the stamped “Super Ludwig” which puts it after the earlier engraved “Super-Ludwig” models. The original Super wires are intact and work well.   Of-the-era top and bottom calf heads rounded out this restoration.   These 6.5 x 15 Super-Ludwig Band Models are classic examples of a great era.   Thanks again goes to Bun E. Carlos for gifting me a great drum.   Enjoy!   Mike Curotto
1925-32 Ludwig & Ludwig 6.5 x 15 Black Ebonized/Inlay Super-Ludwig Band Model
Hi all, Here’s another snare that I was able to add to the collection...fresh from the 2015 Chicago Vintage Drum Show. I got this drum from Joe Luoma, he had one to spare so we sealed the deal over the phone 3 weeks prior to the Show and culminated the deal at the Show. Thanks goes to Joe for helping me to add another cool and very rare drum to my collection. Joe’s drums are always pristine so this was an easy cleaning.   1935-36 LUDWIG & LUDWIG 6.5 x 14 SILVER ANNIVERSARY BLACK BEAUTY   The SHELL: The “sparse” later 1930s 10 pt. floral engraving pattern is clean and in good shape. The black nickel is also in good condition with some normal “freckling” that is to be expected on an 80 year old drum. I just gave the shell a minor cleaning with some lemon oil and all is good.   The HARDWARE: Around 1932 Ludwig changed their Artgold (bright copper plating /gold lacquer) DeLuxe hardware option to Classic Gold (brass plating/ yellow gold lacquer). The Classic Gold on this snare drum was in very good condition and only needed a basic cleaning. The threads on the tension rods needed the most cleaning. One side of one of the tapped Imperial lugs was stripped but my good friend Al Schneider, The Drum Doctor, did his magic with a 12-24 Heli-Coil and as I’ve mentioned before, do not let stripped “Anniversary” lugs be a deal killer, there is a fix, a 12-24 Heli-Coil is the correct fix.   Of-the-era calf heads (note the tone control stamp on the top head) and James Snappi wires rounded out this simple cleaning.   Silver Anniversary Black Beauties are extremely rare, there are only 5 known at this writing and every one is different but I do realize that there is always the possibility that there are others out there. Be sure to weigh-in if you see or hear of another Silver Anniversary Black Beauty out there in vintage drum land.   Here’s a list of the 5 known Silver Anniversary Models: 1. 5 x 14 gold plated Standard Model (Joe Luoma Collection). 2. 5 x 14 gold plated Super-Ludwig Model (Joe Luoma Collection). 3. 6.5 x 14 chrome plated Standard Model (Bun E. Carlos Collection). 4. 5 x 14 chrome plated Super-Sensitive Model (Mike Curotto Collection). 5. 6.5 x 14 Classic Gold Standard Model (Mike Curotto Collection).   Enjoy!   Mike Curotto
1935-36 Ludwig & Ludwig 6.5 x 14 Silver Anniversary Black Beauty
Hi all, Here’s another snare drum fresh from the 2015 Chicago Vintage Drum Show and now in the “Bun E. Carlos wing” of the Curotto Collection. I got this one from Bun E. Carlos. Someone had done a You Tube video walk through of Bun E.’s drum barn and I saw this drum on the top shelf. A few emails later we confirmed the deal and Bun E. brought it to the Show where we finalized the deal. Thanks again Bun, you are always a pleasure to do deals with.   1935 Ludwig & Ludwig 6.5 x 14 Gold Sparkle (Flash)/Classic Gold Standard Model   The SHELL: Ludwig lists the official finish as Gold Sparkle (1928-84) but this finish looks different than your traditional Gold Sparkle, this finish has that “gold glass glitter” look to it. There is some 80 year old wear marks here and there but no real cancer as I have seen on Green and Gold Sparkle drums from the 1920s-30s. The finish cleaned up and polished up nicely. The white interior is clean with a nice big 3512 (Dec. 1935) date stamp. The brass oval badge is clean with a tight grommet. You will notice that this drum has the 1920s-30s brass oval badge that precedes the white enamel oval badge that is seen on the Silver Anniversary and later drums. This is obviously a “left over parts transitional situation” that is fairly common.   The HARDWARE: As I mentioned in my Silver Anniversary Black Beauty article Ludwig & Ludwig changed their Artgold (copper plating/gold lacquer) DeLuxe option to the Classic Gold (brass plating/yellow gold lacquer) option in 1932. The Classic Gold hardware is all there, in great shape and only needed a basic cleaning. The 8 tapped Imperial lugs are healthy (no stripping).   Of-the-era calf heads and James Snappi Wires rounded out this cleaning.   Enjoy!   Mike Curotto
1935 Ludwig & Ludwig 6.5 x 14 Gold Sparkle/Classic Gold Standard Model
Hi all, This one just came into the collection. I purchased this snare drum and another snare drum from a seller who lives on the East Coast. This deal was not the most pleasant of deals and was not the typical drum deal that I am used to. On a positive note though, this encounter made me cherish even more the many pleasurable deals that I have had with my friends and fellow collectors over the years. There is no need to rant, name names or elaborate any further as this is not my intent when I write my articles. Let’s just leave it that sometimes a drum deal does not go as planned.   1934 SLINGERLAND 5 x 14 SPARKLING GREEN/ARTGOLD ARTIST MODEL   The SHELL: Slingerland’s Sparkling Green finish was first introduced around 1934. I have seen my share of Sparkling Green/Green Sparkle finishes from the 1930s and this drum shell is one of the cleanest versions that has ever come my way. “Cancer free”. The finish cleaned up and polished up nicely. The solid maple shell interior is very clean. The cloud badge is also clean with a tight grommet.   The HARDWARE: The problem was with the nickel plated hardware. The seller emailed photos that looked fine but on further examination, with the drum in my hands, it was clear that the “carpet didn’t match the drapes”, as the saying goes. The photos that were emailed to me showed that the nickel plating looked like a normal 81 year old patina that I could have cleaned and polished but on further examination there were a number of areas where the nickel had been buffed or polished down to the brass. So the problem was that the hardware just didn’t match the very clean Sparkling Green finish. The seller said that that was how he received the drum and that he would not reverse the deal so I just moved on from there to make this a positive outcome. I decided to swap the hardware from a same-era Artgold walnut Artist Model that was in my restoration queue. I have seen this combination before and have actually restored the Artgold hardware on a Sparkling Green Artist Model that is owned by my good friend and noted UK collector Dave Brown. The Artgold hardware was all there and in very good shape so a basic cleaning and some minor polishing on a few parts was all that was needed. Yes, this drum was most likely not “born” with Artgold hardware and I really didn’t have to mention the swap-out but I thought that this would make a nice addition to my article.   Slingerland top and bottom calf heads and James Snappi Wires rounded out this cleaning.   Slingerland Artist Models are very rare as compared to Ludwig & Ludwig Standard Models of the same era. I have seen many more L & L Standard Models in existence than there are Slingerland Artist Models.   In closing, I added a photo of my 1932-34 Slingerland 5 x 14 Sparkling Green DuAll Model and my 1935-36 Slingerland 6.5 x 14 Sparkling Green Broadscaster Model, both of these are also pretty clean .   Enjoy!   Mike Curotto
1934 Slingerland 5 x 14 Sparkling Green Flash/Artgold Artist Model
Hi all, This is the second of the two snare drums that I purchased from the East Coast seller and part two of a not-so-fun- drum-deal as mentioned in my previous article.   1920s GEORGE B. STONE & SON, INC. 5 x 14 BLONDE (MAPLE) MASTER-MODEL   A few thoughts: This drum was sold to me and documented to be in Near Mint Condition, I’d call it Excellent-Plus condition, no big deal either way. I’m told that the Blonde, solid maple shell is pretty rare as most of the Master Models are Black Lacquer. Noted collector, Bill Wanser told me that he has never seen a Blonde MM. I’m told that Stone Master Models are highly sought after by symphony and orchestral percussionists. As a collectable, I have also been told that this snare drum should be in one’s collection so that was my reason for purchasing this drum, it will go nicely with my Stone Orchestral Model. Not much more to talk about so I’ll let the photos do the talking. One final note, check out the “custom” combination gut and wire snares. The original gut piece/butt plate is there but has been used in a different way. I have only seen this wire set up twice, the most recent on a Gretsch Gladstone 3-Way  snare. The wires look cool but the drum still sounds like a 1920s Master Model which is fine with me as that is the authentic sound and the condition that I like to keep these drums in.   There was one issue though; notice the 3 equidistant holes/3 screws on the bottom hoop. This was a point of contention between me and the seller as these were not disclosed to me. The 3 holes/3 screws were in a few of the photos that the seller sent me but I missed this and when I pointed this out to the seller after I received the drum he basically said (I am paraphrasing) “you missed it, it’s on you, it’s your responsibility to have seen that before you bought the drum from me” etc. The fact that I missed it doesn’t negate the fact that the 3 holes/3 screws were still there in the first place. The seller did say, and I quote: ”You know, Mike, there comes a time when you have to throw in the towel and cut your losses—“... Can you feel the love on this drum deal? I did ask the seller if his 4-5 other Master Models had anything like the 3 holes/3 screws that were on the drum that he sold to me. I never received an answer. Moving on, my guess is that the 3 equidistant holes/3 screws were an after-market attempt to keep those flimsy 1920s snare stand baskets away from the bottom head and wires but this is only a guess. Feel free to weigh-in if you have seen, heard of, or have any ideas about this.   Enjoy!   Mike Curotto
1920s George B. Stone & Son, Inc. 5 x 14 Blonde (Maple) Master-Model
Hi all, Here’s a very rare and unique snare drum that just entered the collection. I got this drum (and another) off of EBay a few months ago from a European seller. Since I am dealing with a European drum and metric dimensions/heads etc., I hired my friend and new “French Connection”, Emmanuel Giraudon of Old Drums, Vintage & Custom  If you need a European drum restored with the correct of-the-era parts along with correctly tucked metric calf heads and a thorough research then your man is Emmanuel. He does excellent work that is true to the era, fairly priced AND his work is delivered on time as promised. Emmanuel allowed me to quote his description of this snare drum so here is the data straight from the expert:  “Seimatone Chromatic snare drum - 14" / 5.90 - circa 1948 : the brand : Seimatone was the export branch of the brand P. Beuscher. This is a very old name in the world of music in France, because this musical instrument factory was created in 1850 !! The Beuscher brand has always existed and still exists since 2015 ... Today the brand no longer manufactures its instruments, but is a reseller of instrument and a great music editor, like "La Vie en Rose" by Edith PIAF. the shell/bearing edge/snare bed/wrap/reinforcing rings : This is a very original snare in nickel-plated brass , and chromatic tension system is very ingenious !! Invented by Roger SELLER (Beuscher's boss in the 50s) and probably inspired by the Knob Tension created 1 year before ... But with this snare, only two tuning knobs are necessary to adjust the tension, one by a head ! The internal chromatic system is very complex but works perfectly, and allows you to change tone while playing ... By cons, this snare is very heavy : 15.7lb or 7 kgs !! The hardware : the lugs are not lugs because the hoops are fixed. Only the internal system is doing tension on the natural skins ... Therefore, the 45° bearing edge and the snare bed had no utility... Very original conception !! A bientôt,  Emmanuel olDrums Vintage & Custom” Enjoy! Mike Curotto
Seimatone Chromatic snare drum - 14" / 5.90 - circa 1948
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Curotto Collection
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