Since I began documenting Drouyn drums, I have received many emails from people requesting information on their drums, past and present. Most of these emails have asked for the manufacturing date of their Drouyn drum.
There are many mysteries about the Drouyn factory – where the components were made; what the shells were made from, what time frame they were made in – the serial numbers are another one. Did they have a reliable system? Originally written inside an ink stamp, at various times they were scrawled in pencil, biro; or even printed on a label maker.
So I looked at what I did know. The second Drouyn drum kit I owned could be accurately dated. It was sold from Theo’s Music in Perth in 1965. It was new from the factory. The Zildjian hi-hats sold with the kit still had a faint price mark, in pounds sterling, written on the bottom cymbal. Australia moved to decimal currency in 1966. The serials inside each drum consisted of three rows of numbers, written in pen:
Drouyn 16″ interior:
Then I received this image of a Dandy serial from a contributor:
Knowing the date of my kit, the answer at first seemed too obvious. The first two digits of the job lot could well be the year of manufacture. In the years since, I’ve seen many Dandy and Drouyn serial numbers and they have all looked to be period correct for this theory. But I have also seen many drums which just don’t fit. I know that in the Drouyn factory not all drums were made consecutively and shells were often mixed to make kits. All this is standard for vintage era drum makers. What I do find crazy is that a small company in Brisbane would have hand written or stamped three sets of numbers into their drum shells for over 30 years, without including a date somewhere in those numbers.
My good friend Dave Egan has sent me some pictures of a Dandy kit he has just purchased. These drums look to be from the 1940’s/50’s. The sad news is that the serial numbers once more don’t correspond to anything meaningful, at this stage. Dave is a drummer and master percussion restorer/repairer: http://www.rhythmrestorations.com.au
The numbers are: Serial, Job Lot and Model Number. So we have a drum set of approximately the same aged shells (snare drum looks a bit newer) and have:
1. 2. 3.
Job Lot: 3765/3342/3036
My Drouyn kit from the 60’s :
Job Lot: 6543/6452/?
Marching bass drum from the 60’s:
Job Lot: 6561
If the Job Lot is just that – and contains no date; there must have been some way for workers to determine what they put on the shell. A ledger of some kind? Also we still don’t really know the earliest date of drum manufacture. The first Drouyn business was repairing instruments and selling reeds, school instruments and giving lessons. It’s unlikely that Dave’s drums are not from the 30’s. However many drums I’ve seen fit into the theory of the first two digits of the Job Lot as a year. Did they change the number system at some stage?
If you have any information; or pictures of drums and serial numbers, please send them.
Thanks for stopping by – I hope you enjoyed your visit.
Regards, Paul Kneipp.