Gift of Gerald C. Godfrey, Additional funds provided by the Ralph Pace Museum Acquisition Fund. 2016.11.1
Due to its appearance, quality of sound, and rarity, the Ludwig Black Beauty snare drums manufactured during the 1920s and 1930s are some of the most prized and sought-after drums by performers and collectors alike. Until 1935, they were manufactured with a two-part, rolled brass shell joined at the center bead and coated with black nickel, which was then etched in one of several decorative patterns.
During this time period, the drums were available in several configurations and sizes, with first six, then eight, then ten tube lugs, a switch from the first “Professional” strainer (renamed the Pioneer) to a second generation “Professional” strainer, and options that included dual snares and nickel, chrome, or gold plating on the hardware.
This Ludwig Black Beauty snare drum was purchased for $45.00 by Gerald Godfrey on January 18, 1934 while he was a student at Auburn Senior High School, in Auburn, N.Y. It was used by him in his high school band, in performances with the American Legion Band, and with a local dance band, the Danceolians. It remained with him his entire life, passing to his son at his death.
Godfrey’s drum is a 5x14-inch Ludwig Standard Black Beauty with single-flanged counterhoops, 10 lugs, and chromed hardware. It features the second-generation Professional strainer, a 10-point floral engraving, an internal tone control, and wire Snappi- snares. The calf heads are period correct, and are likely original to the drum.