For about three years in the mid-1920s (1925 to 1928 if you want to get technical,) Ludwig and Ludwig Drum Company offered for sale a “top of the line” drum called the Triumphal. These were very specially-crafted drums that featured an acid-washed spun brass shell, 24-karat gold plating (thought there was probably only two or three ounces of gold used on each drum,) and lavish engravings on the shell, hoops, and tube-style lugs. Much more than the engraved “Black Beauty” of the day, Triumphals are as much works of art as they are drums.
There are many rare and valuable vintage drums, but none come close to the Triumphal in beauty or value, as there are less than ten original Triumphals knows to exist. Aside from some celebrity-owned drums, they are the highest-priced collector drums. Current values range from twenty to fifty thousand dollars, per drum.
Many of these drums have a pedigree attached to them. As the proud owner of one of these original 20’s-era Triumphals, here’s the one attached to mine:
Actor William Hart was the greatest movie cowboy of the silent movie era. In 1925, he purchased a 4x14 Triumphal from W.F. Ludwig, Sr. The drum was for Hart’s newborn son. A few years later, his young wife ran off with the son. When they reconciled, Hart traded in his 1925 Triumphal to Ludwig for an even fancier drum; another custom-ordered Triumphal with inlayed silver and engraved Navajo symbols.
The Ludwig family displayed the original 1925 “Hart Drum” at the factory from the late 1920s until 1984, when the factory relocated to North Carolina. In the early 1990s, William “The Chief” Ludwig II sold the “Hart Drum” to a collector, who sold the drum to a second collector, who sold it to a third collector. After a year, the owner decided he wanted an expensive sports car, and my phone rang.
Now the drum is known -by me- as “Bun E.’s William Hart Drum!” Where is the second “Hart Drum?” I’m told it resides in the “William Hart Museum.”
While prices on collector drums have dipped in the current recession, the Triumphals continue to increase in value. The best of the best do that. The Ludwig 100th Anniversary Triumphals are out now, and I’m the proud owner of one of the few released this year.
It’s a Triumphal just like the 1920s models; the same “un-effing-believable” engraving, everything 24-karat gold-plated, and world class craftsmanship all the way. My Triumphal is way above the top-of-the-line, it’s a work of art. I’m still wearing gloves when I handle it.
The Triumphal is the drum equivalent of a Gibson Explorer guitar, except in price. An original Explorer would set you back about 400 thousand dollars! A new Triumphal is under ten grand…That’s a deal!
For me, the 100th Anniversary Triumphal is as good as it gets, snare drum-style. Initially, Ludwig was going to release 100 of these Triumphals, one for each year the company has been in business. I have just been informed that the number has been reduced to 50, so my drum just increased in value. These drums are disappearing rapidly, so if you want to have a piece of history, you should get on it quickly.
(1909, the first Gold Triumphal produced for this special 100th Anniversary drum, is currently making extended stay residencies at Five-Star Drum Shops across the USA. First stop: Columbus Pro Percussion. Stop by and experience it for yourself.)
While we’re at it, here are a couple more drums from my collection: