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The William F. Ludwig II Collection

William F. Ludwig II plays a top-of-the-line rock drummer's 'Monster' set, ca. 1980.

William F. Ludwig II plays a top-of-the-line rock drummer's "Monster" set, ca. 1980.
Historic photograph from the William F. Ludwig II Archive.

Son and father, William F. Ludwig II and William F. Ludwig Sr., after resumption of regular drum production following World War II.

Highlights of the Collection...

The William F. Ludwig II Collection features a wide variety of materials, including an outstanding collection of drums, drum pedals and other drum accessories, historic photographs, a comprehensive drum patent collection, historic documents from the Ludwig drum companies, trade literature, and related ephemera. Many of the drums, dating from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century, were collected by father and son, William F. Ludwig Sr. and William F. Ludwig II, over the course of some ninety years. The Ludwigs are seen together in an historic photograph (right) taken at the WFL Drum Company's Chicago factory after resumption of regular drum production following World War II.

Three Civil War Drums...

Outstanding among the rope-tension drums in the William F. Ludwig II Collection is a set of three Civil War snare drums. The first drum, constructed of ash, was built by William Ent, Germantown, Pennsylvania, ca. 1850. The middle drum was built by Eli Brown & Son, Bloomfield, Connecticut, in 1841. It boasts a beautiful varnished maple shell accented by red painted rims. Both drums have superb tack designs. (Tacks were used to help hold the shell together, but individual makers used their own geometric designs that now can be useful in attributing drums to specific makers.) The last of the trio is a brass-shelled drum sold by White Brothers, Boston, ca. 1856-1865. According to Ludwig, this drum was acquired from a man whose grandfather used it in the Confederate army.

NMM 10,040. Side drum by William Ent, Germantown,
Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, ca. 1850; NMM 10,039.
Side drum by Eli Brown & Son, Bloomfield, Connecticut,
1841; NMM 10,041. Side drum by White Brothers,
Boston, ca. 1856-1865.

These three Civil War drums from the William F. Ludwig II Collection are currently featured in the permanent exhibition, "Ya Gotta Know the Territory: The Musical Journey of Meredith Willson," designed and installed by the National Music Museum for the Meredith Willson Museum in Mason City, Iowa.

About the Collector...

William F. Ludwig II presents famed Beatles drummer, Ringo Starr, with a gold-plated snare drum in 1964.

William F. Ludwig II, former president of The Ludwig Drum Company, has been involved with the percussion industry all of his life, first as a player, then as a manufacturer, salesman, and executive. His recently released autobiography, The Making of a Drum Company, tells his story--a tale of growing up at the drum factory, coming of age in the percussion world, and helping to build his family business into the largest drum company in the world. His lifelong passion for the history of American percussion has made him both an avid collector and a much sought after speaker.

In the historic photo to the right, William F. Ludwig II (right) presents famed Beatles drummer, Ringo Starr (center), with a gold-plated Ludwig snare drum backstage at the International Amphitheater in Chicago during the Beatles' 1964 tour of the U.S.A. The Ludwig logo was prominently featured on the bass drum of Ringo's drumset throughout the Beatles' career. Pictured with Ludwig and Starr is R. L. Schory, Ludwig's director of marketing.

Note: Excerpted from Jayson Dobney, "Museum Enhances its Percussion Collections with Rare Instruments that Document the American Percussion Industry," America's Shrine to Music Museum Newsletter, Vol. 29, No. 1 (February 2002), p. 5.

Most of the drums and all of the related archival materials in the William F. Ludwig II Collection are available for examination by appointment (see access guidelines) in the Museum's study-storage areas.

Go to Checklist of the William F. Ludwig II Drum Collection

Go to Checklist of Snare Drums Made by Ludwig Companies

Go to Checklist of European and American Rope-Tension Drums

Go to Collection Page Index

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Most recent update:   March 1, 2014

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