Collector’s Showcase: Mike Curotto
Jim Messina’s Vintage Drums Talk.com
Curotto Collection - Page Four
This Page Begins with Comments from the 2012 Chicago Drum Show
Click on any photo for a larger version.
1935 Ludwig & Ludwig Terra Cotta Standard Model
Ah, the Chicago Vintage Drum Show, one of my absolute favorite places to be! After a few months of negotiations this
drum was purchased at the 2012 Chicago Vintage Drum Show from my friend and fellow collector Bun E. Carlos.
1935 LUDWIG & LUDWIG 5x14 "TERRA COTTA"* STANDARD MODEL
*"Terra Cotta" is the unofficial name that has been given to this un-cataloged Ludwig & Ludwig finish. As we know, there
were a number of L & L finishes that were mentioned briefly in various Ludwig Drummer Magazines but never made it to
any L & L catalogs. Streaked Opal was a catalogued finish from 1930-35. When I saw the photos of this drum my first
thought was that maybe this was a later run of Streaked Opal but Bun E. came up with a great rebuttal, he said: "If it was
a later run of Streaked Opal then why have we not seen any other examples?" Makes sense to me...or...could this be a
special finish to honor Ludwig & Ludwig's Silver Anniversary? A one-off special order? As of this writing this is the only
example known to exist in this finish (that is not to say that there are not other examples out there**). Thoughts?
On a lighter note, Joe Luoma called it "Streaked Opal Squared."
The finish is in great shape but I was still able to clean off a few layers of age. You know by now, Maguire's #17 Clear
Plastic Cleaner and #10 Clear Plastic Polish brought everything back to life. The finish did have two small areas where
there was some "lifting" so I had my friend Al Schneider (the original Drum Doctor) do the dry towel and hot iron trick,
everything turned out fine. The solid mahogany shell is in-round, the white interior is clean and there is a very nice 3510
(October 1935) date stamp. The brass oval badge is right at the transition period just before the L & L white enamel
badge era starts.
Most of the original nickel plated hardware is in good shape but still needed the normal cleaning and polishing. The
nickel plating on the bottom rim was pretty "cloudy" so I had Les Hadnagy at Avenue Plating put it on his buffing wheel
and the nickel came back to life. The 8 Silver Anniversary-era Imperial lugs are tapped with no inserts. I am happy to
announce that all 8 lugs are in great shape and are not stripped. Here's an important tip: Don't let stripped Silver
Anniversary-era Imperial lugs be a deal-killer, negotiate appropriately and buy the drum. Your remedy is simple,
a 12-24 Hela-Coil, just make sure that you have someone that knows how to do the correct repair/installation.
Of-the-era top and bottom Ludwig calf heads and James Snappi wires rounded out this cleaning/restoration.
**Well, here we go...a few days prior to the Chicago Show I got an email and some photos from well known
collector/dealer Doug Carrington, it read: "I thought that you might be interested." To my surprise and delight there
it was, a 1935 Leedy Broadway Standard in the same finish! We arranged a deal and the drum was also purchased
at the 2012 Chicago Vintage Drum Show. Now there are two known examples. Stay tuned for the rest of the story but
for now I've included a photo of the Leedy next to this Ludwig & Ludwig.
Here's rest of the 2012 Chicago Show "Terra Cotta" story. I ended my last article with: "Well, here we go...just prior to the
Chicago Show I got an email and some photos from well known collector/dealer Doug Carrington, it read: 'I thought that you
might be interested.' To my surprise and delight there it was, a 1935 Leedy Broadway Standard in the same finish! We
arranged a deal and the drum was purchased at the 2012 Chicago Show. Now there are two known examples."
1935* LEEDY 5x14 "TERRA COTTA" BROADWAY STANDARD MODEL
*A special thanks goes to Harry Cangany who was kind enough to give me his take on this drum: "I would say the Leedy is
1935 since the strainer is the second series Broadway Standard strainer. I quickly looked at catalogs (I don’t have all of them)
and at Rob Cook’s collection of Topics and see no mention of the drum, the finish, or any picture of an endorser holding one.
The two drums were probably built on opposite sides of the same work table in Elkhart...I wonder if salesmen used them as
samples for feedback, or selected endorsers were given the drums? Interesting that each was in the Midwest."
The finish is in very good shape and required only a basic cleaning and polishing. There are two areas where the finish has
lifted so once again the task was given to Al Schneider (The Original Drum Doctor) to smooth things out via his hot iron and
warm towel technique, the same as he did on the L & L "Terra Cotta" drum in my previous article. The L & L and Leedy snare
were actually delivered at the same time so just to add some friendly pressure and to keep it real for my friend Al, I handed
both shells to Al and informed him that: "these are the only two known examples of this finish in existence at this time." He can
handle it as was the case and both shells turned out fine. The white interior is clean but there is no date stamp. The shell is
in-round and the badge is clean with a tight grommet.
All of the nickel plated hardware is in excellent shape and cleaned/polished up nicely. I was happy to see that the 8 "X" (box)
lugs were in great shape as these lugs can get pretty grungy. I did notice that the set screws inside the lugs were missing but
the inserts and springs fit perfectly and the lugs are fully functional so I just left everything as is. The top and bottom rims are
fine with a nice strong "Broadway Standard" stamp on the bottom rim. The tension rods are square-headed and are the smaller
.18/10-24 versions that Leedy used on these type of drums. The 4-point Broadway Standard strainer works fine and the butt
plate is in good shape also. I found it interesting that there is an "L" stamped on the neck of the strainer thumbscrew just like
the L & L P-338s.
Of-the-era Leedy HARDWHITE calf heads and James Snappi wires rounded out this cleaning and light restoration.
A final question to cogitate on:
I found that the finish on both of these snare drums had a few areas where the finish had "lifted/separated" from the shell.
These two snare drums were probably assembled across the way from each other and quite possibly at the same time so is
it just coincidence or was this run of "Terra Cotta" finish never mass produced because of this lifting problem?
Well, what was supposed to be one "Terra Cotta" snare drum has turned into two, and from the same location! This is totally
fine with me..."the more the merrier" is my motto! I am glad that I was able to share my "Terra Cotta" stories with you.
Feel free to contact me with your thoughts, theories and comments.
1935* LEEDY 5x14 "TERRA COTTA" BROADWAY STANDARD MODEL
Here's another snare drum that just became part of the collection. Unlike my previous drum deal/exercise in futility,
this transaction was a piece of cake. Thanks goes to my friend and fellow collector Mark Cooper for releasing this drum
from his vault. This is how a drum deal should go: Mark and I talked about it on Mon., photos arrive late Mon., we strike
a deal on Tues., funds sent and drum shipped on Weds., drum arrives on Fri...all this in the span of 5 days and I now
have a new weekend snare drum project! This snare drum represents an era in the Ludwig & Ludwig Drum Company
that was not one of L & L's shining moments. On the other hand it is a very rare snare drum that saw a limited production
life (1939-41)...this is what I enjoy collecting.
1940 LUDWIG & LUDWIG 6.5 x 14 BLACK GOLD MULTI-COLOR MODERN BI-TONE SNARE DRUM
The Black & Gold Multi-Color finish is in very good shape for a 72 yr. old Duco shell so a light cleaning and minor touch
up was all that was needed. This is a ply shell with a clear maple interior that is also very clean and there are two date
stamps, 102140 and 4010 so we are looking at October 21, 1940. The white enamel L & L badge is clean with a tight
grommet. I love the crudeness of how the L & L workers marked (and splintered) the area where the grommet hole was
to be drilled..."X" marks the spot. Times have definitely changed with regards to the presentation of the interior of a drum.
Ludwig & Ludwig stated in their 1940-41 catalog that this was a "quality snare drum" at a "low price, (30.00)" so there
were only 3 combination shell/lug finishes that were offered (see catalog excerpt for the full description). I have seen
1 or 2 exceptions to this, these drums were finished in what was called Crystal Pearl with white (Ivory) lugs and showed
a lot of wear and tear.
The 8 black plastic lugs are in great shape, have no cracks and are not stripped...yeah! Thanks to Mark Cooper
for the following analysis: "In 1939 Ludwig & Ludwig experimented with Bake-Lite (early plastic) lugs on their
Modern Bi-Tone Drums. These lugs came in a few different colors and contained metal interior parts. The Bake-Lite
outer cover was just a facade. The Bake-Lite lug was quite fragile and this 'experimentation' did not last long!
Very few examples exist today." I wasn't sure what to expect when I took the "lugs" apart but the actual business parts
of the lugs are very sturdy, crude but sturdy. The plastic "facade", although of no mechanical use, does add to the overall
look of the shell. I did discover a small cocoon in the corner of one of the plastic lugs, "Minutia" is my middle name.
The nickel plated tension rods, washers, collar hooks, single flange rims, butt plate and P-338 strainer were all in great
shape and were very easy to clean and polish. The drum came to me with silk-wound snares but the L & L 1940-41
catalog states and shows that this No. 19 model came with "Snappi-Snares". Oh, the dilemma, the quandary, the angst
as to what I should do...keep the silk-wound snares or put on a set of Snappi-Snares? I realize that it could go
either way but in the interest of catalog-correctness I chose to use of-the-era Snappi-Snares. Of-the-era top and bottom
calf heads rounded out this cleaning/restoration.
1940 L&L 6.5x14 BLACK GOLD MULTI-COLOR MODERN BI-TONE SNARE DRUM
1928-32 NO-NAME (SLINGERLAND?) 4 x 14 BLACK LACQUER 10 LUG
TONE FLANGE MODEL
Let the weirdness begin! First off, the shell is finished in Black Lacquer as opposed to the 2 Sea Green/1 Gold Sparkle
Slingerland versions that are in my collection. The finish has seen better days so I cleaned, polished and touched up the
shell as much as it would allow but I did leave the shell more "rustic" as that was what my gut was telling me to do with
this restoration. The shell is 3-ply with maple reinforcement rings. This is a first for me as the other three 4 x 14 TFs that I
mentioned are all solid mahogany shells as are all of the 5 x 14 and 6.5 x 14 Artist Model TFs that I own or have seen. I
also own a few solid maple versions. The shell depth actually measures 3 3/4”, most likely to accommodate the Tone
Flange/brass ring. The shell has no badge and no air hole. There are no plugged holes where a badge or an air hole (or
both) would have been placed from the factory. The TF side of the shell has the normal flat "bearing edge" but there are
12 brass brads that are evenly spaced around the shell. Every other TF Model that I own or have seen has the brass
brads (less common) or the 10 brass, slotted wood screws that are lined up with each of the 10 tube lugs. I've noticed the
brass brads on only a few of my drums. Mark Cooper seems to think that the brass brads are the predecessor to the
brass screws as Slingerland probably figured out that brass screws were less expensive and easier to obtain therefore
cutting the manufacturing costs down. "Bean Counter" Mark strikes again with an astute observation.
Nothing out of the ordinary for this no-name drum. The nickel plated hardware is the same as one would see on any
Slingerland or Liberty Tone Flange Model. The hardware is definitely Slingerland. The 3 pt. strainer is the correct era with
the small thumbscrew that attaches to the correct era threaded post on the strainer arm. Under all of the rust I discovered
that he extension lever is stamped with the Slingerland USA logo, this is not common on the non-Slingerland TF Models
and other non-Slingerland models as the extension lever was usually left blank. I left the "bend" in the extension lever as a
nice artifact from a drummer of yesteryear. The butt plate is your normal Slingerland (slightly different from L&L and
Leedy) version. The 10 tube lugs look like Slingerland and are the same spacing (1 1/4” c-c) as the 4 x 14 Slingerland
drums of that era. The rims are the heavy nob double flanged rims that were standard equipment on the Slingerland 10
lug Artist Models. I noticed a slight difference with the lug, strainer and butt plate internal attachment hardware on this
drum. On my Slingerland/Liberty snare drums the attachment hardware is an 8-32 screw, a washer and a lock washer. On
this drum the attachment hardware has an added washer that is smaller than the washer that lies (lays?) against the inner
shell. So we have an 8-32 screw, washer, smaller washer and the lock washer. Yes, Geek-A-Tron minutiae but I love this
stuff! The tension rods, washers and collar hooks are also Slingerland. All of the hardware was in decent shape with some
rust so I cleaned and polished as best as I could but again also choosing to leave the hardware somewhat "rustic" to
match the shell. I did hit the tension rod threads with some clear lacquer to stave off any future rust. The Tone Flange is
the solid brass version (earliest of the 3 versions to my knowledge) and is in great shape. The brass ring that goes under
the Tone Flange looks to be original.
A final observation comes from Bill Wanser who poses the question: could this be a home brew, to wit parts bought from
Slingerland that were then installed on a shell that was lying (laying?) around? An argument against that would be that the
top "bearing edge" of the shell looks like it was prepared at a factory to receive a Tone Flange/brass ring. If only these old
drums had memory chips in them.
The batter calf head was in great shape and still fit perfectly onto the Tone Flange (thank you gods of vintage snare drum
collecting!). An of-the-era slunk (bottom) head and Snappi Snares rounded out this quirky specimen of yesteryear.
Here’s a snare drum that I have been looking for since my early days of collecting...thank you Ebay! This one wasn’t
cheap but I wanted it so here we are.
A little bit of history here in that the date stamp on this drum is 4112 (December 1941)...Pearl Harbor, WWII and The War
Powers Act (Dec. 18, 1941) which caused the 10% Law that proved to be a pretty sorrowful era in the history of American
made drums. It looks like this snare drum made the cut and was obviously built just before the “10% Law” manufacturing
restrictions were enacted.
1941 LEEDY 6.5 x 14 AUTOGRAPHS of the STARS BROADWAY PARALLEL MODEL
Fortunately the Autographs of the Stars wrap came to me in very good-plus condition with no cracks or cancer spots. The
wrap did need a good cleaning and polishing though but I was very pleased with the outcome. The white interior was also
very clean with a strong 4112 date stamp. The Leedy badge was in great shape with a nice, tight grommet.
The drum arrived with all of the original hardware. The nickel plating had that patina that is very hard to clean and polish
by hand so I took the hardware to Les at Avenue Plating so he could “color” the nickel. “Color” in plater’s jargon means to
clean and polish the nickel plating back to its original bright polished finish. As you can see Les came through like a
champ. The last generation (1939-46) Leedy Broadway Parallel mechanism works perfectly and is built like a tank! This
mechanism is pretty straight forward but since this was my first dis-assembling of a later Broadway Parallel mechanism I
needed to draw a few diagrams and label a few screws but all in all it turned out to be an easy dis-assembly/re-assembly.
I was able to find a pair of era-correct Leedy Hard White calf heads to round out this light cleaning and restoration.
As a lot of you already know these Leedy Autographs of the Stars snare drums are very rare and are easily in the same
category as the Ludwig & Ludwig Top Hat & Cane (Swing Sensation) snare drums of the same era.
1941 LEEDY 6.5 x 14 AUTOGRAPHS of the STARS BROADWAY PARALLEL MODEL