The Slingerland Drum Company was originally a manufacturer of banjos, banjo ukuleles, and guitars. Pictured below are a few examples of pearl finishes that were applied to the early banjos ukuleles. Below are some examples of Slingerland Pyralin covered banjos, ukuleles and guitars in various finishes from the late 1920’s and early 1930’s.
PHOTOS BY David E. Schenkman - Turtle Hill Banjo Company
The Slingerland Banjo and Drum Company began offering pearl covered drums in 1928. The first finishes available that year were White Marine Pearl, Black Diamond Pearl, Brilliant Gold (sparkling gold), Sea Green Pearl, and natural Walnut, Mahogany, White Enamel, and Black Ebonized wood. Like Leedy drums of this era, Slingerland offered optional imitation gold hardware called “Artgold” to add beauty and contrast to their finishes. Early pearl finishes often had a fabric backing that can be seen through the finish. By about 1930, the use of fabric as a backing was discontinued.
Example of the first version of Black Diamond Pearl –Note the fabric backing
In 1929, more finishes were introduced including Opal (Peacock Pearl), Lavender Pearl, and Rose Pearl.
1929-1934 ROSE PEARL TONE FLANGE ARTIST MODEL
1930 CATALOG ILLUSTRATION FEATURING ROSE PEARL
Lavender Pearl from the 1930 catalog
1929 Lavender Pearl Artist Model with Artgold Hardware
Photo by Mike Curotto
1929 Opal Pearl Professional Model
Photo by Dave Zima
Slingerland also offered special hand engraved snare drums with decorative imitation gold plated hardware. These beautiful instruments are extremely rare today.
1928 SLINGERLAND ARTIST MODEL “BLACK BEAUTY”
6.5x14 Black Beauty (Dave Brown Collection)
Photo by Dave Brown
1928 Black Beauty Artist Model (totally reconditioned by Adrian Kirchler)
These beautiful engraved drums were still being offered in the 1934 catalog but would soon be discontinued.
FINISH CHOICES FOR 1934-35
1930 and 1934 CATALOG PAGES FEATURING OPAL PEARL
(Notice the description on left says that because the finish is so complex, it could not be captured on paper. Thus the black and white photo!)
1930 and 1934 CATALOG PAGES FEATURING SEA GREEN PEARL
Early 1930’s Sea Green Pearl Artist model with Artgold Hardware
1928 SEA GREEN PEARL TONE FLANGE ARTIST MODEL (Liberty)
1934 CATALOG PAGES FEATURING GOLD FINISH AND SPARKLING GREEN PEARL
Photo courtesy of Dave Brown
1930 CATALOG PAGES FEATURING TUTONE AND MARINE PEARL FINISHES
1934 CATALOG PAGES FEATURING MARINE PEARL AND BLACK DIAMOND PEARL FINISHES
1934 CATALOG PAGES FEATURING TUTONE AND REGAL FINISHES
Top of the line drum outfits for 1934
The catalog image below shows the 1933-34 Duall snare drum with three color diamonds applied to the pearl shell. These multi-colored sparkling diamonds could be ordered at extra cost and could even be applied to a drummers existing drums.
Dave Brown Collection
Sparkling Gold Pearl Artist Model with Full Dress Diamonds
A lacquer painted finish known as “Antique” was also available in 1934. This less expensive finish could also be adorned with sparkling diamonds at extra cost. The addition of diamonds was often referred to as “Full Dress”.
Many exciting finishes were also available on drum corps marching drums.
During the middle 1930’s, a few more pearl choices were offered: Coral Pearl, Abalone Pearl, and Sparkling Silver Pearl, Sparkling Green Pearl and Sparkling Red Pearl.
Mike Curotto Collection
1935 SPARKLING GREEN PEARL BROADCASTER
1935 WHITE MARINE PEARL BROADCASTER
1935 SPARKLING GOLD PEARL BROADCASTER
By 1936, Slingerland was still offering lacquer finished drums (“Antique”) in various two-tone colors and solid colors. The optional three color diamonds for the “Full Dress” look was also still available.
LATE 1930’s “FULL DRESS” FINISH
Photo courtesy Bijan Oskouie/Rockin’ Robin Guitars and Music
Sea Green Radio King Set
Throughout the late 1930’s and early 1940’s, White Marine Pearl proved to be the most popular of all finishes, thanks to legendary Swing drummer Gene Krupa. Krupa played White Marine Pearl Slingerland drums exclusively throughout his career.
1930’s GENE KRUPA MODEL RADIO KING
Example of completely un-faded and original White Marine Pearl
1938 BLACK DIAMOND PEARL GENE KRUPA MODEL RADIO KING
1930’s Black Diamond Pearl Radio King Tom Tom
Late 1940’s Black Diamond Pearl Radio King Snare Drum
By 1937, Slingerland had eliminated their more exotic finishes and only offered six pearl and sparkle finishes. As with all of the other drum companies, special non-catalogued finishes were often available on request. NOTE: Abalone Pearl was still offered and a separate page is devoted to this finish in the 1938 catalog. However, it is not shown in the pearl finish sample page as with the 1936 catalog.
1937 Sparkling Green Pearl drum with Full Dress Diamonds
1940 Sparkling Green Pearl Radio King Snare Drum
Sparkling Silver Pearl
1940 Blue and Silver Duco
1940 Sparkling Red Pearl Radio King Snare Drum
During World War Two (1941-1945), drum production continued but on a very limited scale. The basic finishes of 1940 were offered along with several Duco painted finishes.
1943 Rolling Bomber Drums in White Marine Pearl
After the war, drum production soon resumed and while all of the previous finishes of 1940 were still available, a few more were added. Joining the list of available finishes were Sparkling Blue Pearl and Sparkling Silver Pearl (again).
POST WAR 1940’s Sparkling Silver (faded) Pearl Radio King Snare Drum
Around 1947-1949, a unique light blue-ish gray version of Black Diamond Pearl appeared for a while. This was just a “limited run” color variation from the Pyralin manufacturer and was not listed as a separate finish from Black Diamond Pearl. This odd and beautiful variety can also be seen on some post World War Two drums. Below are two examples of this finish. Note the 1949-51 badge on the drum at right. Also, after the war, Slingerland offered blue pearl and red pearl for a brief period. These finishes are not documented nor do they appear in catalogs.
Below is an example of an un-catalogued Blue Pearl finish. Courtesy of Dave Brown
Below Left is an example of an uncatalogued Red Pearl finish.
From the late 1940’s through the middle 1950’s no new finishes were added. Below is an example of Sparkling Blue Pearl.
1956 Sparkling Blue Pearl
Around 1958, Slingerland dramatically improved their finish line-up with some beautiful and unique new pearl options.
1958 Slingerland Catalog
1958 Sparkling Pink
By 1960, even more colorful finishes were introduced while some of the previous colors were discontinued. Note the change of address from Chicago (1958 catalog) to Niles, Illinois (1960 catalog).
1960 Slingerland Catalog
1965 saw even more additions to the Slingerland finish roster as well as some colors being discontinued.
1965 Slingerland Catalog
1965 Blue Agate Set
1965 Blue Ripple Set
Rare 1968 Yellow Tiger Pearl
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