Webster Snare Drum

Webster Snare Drum

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Description (Brief)

This snare drum was made by John Webster, near Spencertown, New York, around 1790-1820. It has a painted shell with a painted eagle with its characteristic “frog-legged” design that appears during the period of the 1790s to about 1820 on U.S. militia canteens, belt plates, cap insignia and knapsacks. Also this basic design, with a shield on the eagle‘s breast, was used on the U.S. Peace medals of 1792 and 1793. There are 13 stars painted on the drum shell in a circular pattern around the eagle motif. Also, there are 4 additional stars painted vertically to the right side of the eagle motif.

The drum has two wood hoops drilled with 9 holes each for rope, which at one time, was laced through leather ears, used to tighten the hoops. There are 2 skin heads in poor condition and remnants of a gut snare. The drum is disassembled and would require conservation to bring it back to its original condition. It is accessioned with a pair of hardwood drum sticks. There is a label inside the shell that is inscribed:

“I was made by John Webster 3 miles north of Spencertown Meeting House Sept 1779”

As indicated in correspondence with the previous owner, this drum was brought back from the War of 1812 by Captain John George Snyder. Further research is needed to determine details of Snyder’s military career.

Object Name
Date made
place made
United States: New York, Spencertown
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
paint (overall material)
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Musical Instruments
Music & Musical Instruments
American Democracy
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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