Collector Profile: David The Artman Collects Drumkits

David The Artman solves art installation issues by day and becomes a globe-trotting rock/pop/country drummer by night. In other words, he’s living the dream. Then there is his third dimension – Drumkit Collector. We love our passionate Collector psychology, so what’s his all about?

MOLAM: Hi Dave. How long have you been collecting drums?

DK: Not long really. 3 – 4 years…

When did you notice the change from ‘buying’ a set of drums to ‘collecting’ them?

having gone from the family’s kit , then my brothers and eventually my own kit through my teens to the big rack mounted Pearl drumkit endorsement deal in my 20’s then with my musical influences changing I thought I’d like to scale right back to a little sixties kit ….with my eye on of course a prized Ludwig Ringo Starr Beatle kit…. Dream on….I’d settled for an early 70’s Premier jazz kit in Grey Shimmer. Still not satisfied after a few years I found a 1968 Ludwig (not a Ringo) but a Psychedelic Oyster.. Satisfied with the psychedelic oyster for about 7 years… Then I thought I should sell the Premier.. I took some photos to post and was looking at them and I thought why am I selling this.. I didnt need the money.. I have the room.. Why can’t I have 2 drum kits and so on and so on…. Down the slippery slope I went…

1968 Ludwig 'psychedelic oyster'

1968 Ludwig ‘psychedelic oyster’

Do you have a collecting criteria (brand, era, aesthetic, sound…)?

Not a strict criteria, I’m not really fussed about the brand. some are really cheap Japanese kits from the sixties that were competing against the better USA brands of the time so they look awesome in appearance with their funky colourful wraps (exterior finish) but the wooden drum shells underneath are of a much thinner 3ply lesser quality wood and are constructed a little differently.
Era – mostly 60’s and 70’s not by choice but just because I love the wraps they were producing back then..mine are mostly smaller sized bass drum or jazz kits too… I like the smaller kits as I’m short and I like to sit high behind the kit so the kit is lower down and flat then a rock kit that would have larger diameters and depths meaning all a bit higher..
Sound – with the older kits they do have a unique tone compared to kits of today… Kits today can weigh a ton… 10ply shells and I find them very loud.. I like the older high quality kits like the ludwigs and yamaha for their thinner shells and distinct tone. Kits can vary so much with the type of skin and also just by the player…. A great player can make the cheapest nastiest kit sound awesome…
And also some are just unique or odd fashionable kits too… I have a clear acrylic ‘fibes’ USA kit from the 70’s and a ‘Simmons’ hexagon electronic kit…. Just waiting for Duran Duran reform…?

1972 USA Fibes 'clear acrylic'

1972 USA Fibes ‘clear acrylic’

(Oh, dearest Dave, that is so sweet and funny, as if Duran Duran ever split up. They were here performing 3 years ago. Timeless.)  So, do you play all of your kits ?

They do all get played from time to time.. I have favourites… I’ll be into a particular kit for awhile then for whatever reason choose another kit and then back again… .

Do they all have a turn going out to gigs with you?

Yep, absolutely. I like to mix it up. keep my drummer friends jealous and also depending on the band ie: pop, rock, country the sound of the kit or venue, stage size etc..

How egalitarian of you, like trying not to favour a particular child or something. And showing off to boot! How many kits do you have now?

mmmm 10 if you count the cheapy I found at a garage sale which our cat Monkee uses the bass drum for a bed entering through the microphone hole.

Any musicians of note played / owned them?

The only one I’m aware of is the Premier kit I was told belonged to Jim Elliott From the Cruel Sea.. A few years back I was drumming on Jim Moginie’s (midnight oil) solo record Atlas Folkloric with the brief NOT to play like legendary powerhouse oils drummer Rob Hirst, However one song required Robs special touch.. So Jim got him in.. My kit had been re-skinned for the session with my sticks leaving hit and scuffs marks in the centre of all the drums from about 2weeks of recording … Rob comes in, played one song, two takes and the skins were beaten and scuffed over the entire surface of the skin… Id never witnessed Robs manic playing up close before, totally mind blowing! He definitely gave my kit his special touch. And a lovely guy to boot. (Rob also owns several vintage Ludwig drumkits).

How fantastic! Where are your drums, are they all set up or do you have to put them in storage?

I have large rumpus room down stairs in my house where I have them semi set up with one being set up in the middle of the room with all the cymbals etc. then when I feel like a change its really simple to swap over just the drums…. The set up configuration for all my kits is the same so the cymbals and stands just remain where they are and the drums switch in and out.. Same as my live set up, I have a second set of stands and cymbals which stay in the road cases… Then when it’s gig time I grab the two road case and play eany meany miney mo with what ever kit I want to use a for the gig… I also have a kit setup in the lounge room upstairs, so when I get the urge at any given time day or night or a song comes on the radio or at 2 in the morning after a few wines I can have a bash… and its great whenever anyone visits young or old they always sit behind it and have a little tap tap saying ‘I always wanted to play drums’ or ‘I wish I could play drums’ … ‘can you show me something’ …. It’s a fun thing to have…

" My 'temple of boom' "

It is wonderful to have your collection available to visitors – interactive. People seem to reveal parts of themselves when they are around a collection – it doesn’t seem to matter if it’s art, jewellery, drums, smurfs. It’s fascinating. What is the rarest kit in your collection and why?

I guess it’s the 1968 Ludwig Psychedelic Oyster, from what I’ve researched not to many of these were made.. And only a few made it to our shores… The colour is no longer available from Ludwig … I was at a drum store once chatting to the sales guy and he asked what I was playing – psyc oyster etc and he goes wow not to many of them around. Turns to his filing cabinet pulls out a photo of one…. Thats it! that’s mine… The photo was of a really old fella behind it… I knew it was mine as the legs that hold the bass drum and the tom mount had unfortunately been updated.. Sales guy said the old guy would hobble in to his store like arthritic death but sit behind a kit and just come alive… I’m glad his kit lives on, And I hope the old fella is too.

I feel the same way with pieces in my collection. It is the history, and sense of playing a caretaker role, that makes one keenly aware of the people who have cared for the piece before you. Indirect relationships.

Have you had to restore any of them?

I haven’t had to do much actual repair work..Generally I just remove all the chrome give it a good polish and give the shells a good clean. the skins are generally pretty tired so at times I buy new skins for my favourite kits and hand there skins down to the other kits.. Re-skinning a whole kit top and bottom is quite costly so I usually wait until I’m doing some recording or touring and do it then. The Yamaha ‘yellow dragon’ had the wrap unfortunately ripped on the top so I flipped it to the bottom and drilled new holes for the legs and Tom mounts… So the damage is not seen now..

1970 Yamaha 'Gold Dragon'

1970 Yamaha ‘Gold Dragon’

We all love a bargain story. Which one was your best buy?

The one Monkee sleeps in.. $30 at a garage sale.. It’s a smallish kit and will be for my littlest nephews to annoy their parents with.. .. They love coming around and playing on all the drums..one is showing some signs he has what it takes… I have hooked my older nephews up with kits too but they haven’t really taken to it… Funnily enough its one of my nieces who I think has the gift… And if she sticks at it she will always have a gig… What band doesn’t want a cool chick up the back on the tubs?

Cool chicks are the best. How old were you when you started playing?

….Started when I was around 10yrs old encouraged by my parents providing a family of six kids a little japanses Star drumkit … Were they out of their minds?my older brother then got his own kit when he was 14 which was a significant upgrade from the Star kit with a few more cymbals and Tomtoms, he being able to teach his little brother (me) a few things until I surpassed him pushing him to the front of the microphone in our first band.. (Forgotten the name ) but I believe my mum knows Led Zepplin 4 as well as I do ?

And now finally what is your dream drumkit to own?

A Ringo of course… and im very fortunate to own the dream.. A ‘Ludwig 1966 ‘black oyster’ There were obviously hundreds if not thousands of these kits made but rare to find one that’s been so well looked after and in Australia …. I’m only the second owner…its a beautiful kit, records nice and always gets comments at gigs by other drummers, sound guys, punters and if they can stop talking about themselves for just a minute even some guitarists..although this is a very rare occasion (Insert drummer joke here). I know there will be a day when I possibly have to move all the kits along but it will never be the Ringo.. I just love it. For years i would look at beatles pictures, video clips etc and think “man I’d love one of those”… Its a huge part of pop music history, the most famous looking drumkit on the planet and now I have one!! I’d like to think mine was sitting on those same shelves in the ludwig factory right next to the same kit Ringo ended up with…..?

1966 'Ringo' Ludwig Black Oyster

1966 ‘Ringo’ Ludwig Black Oyster

I found it online from a guy in country Victoria who had had it for 40 years.. Also a collector, he had many kits, this was his studio kit and it never saw daylight or gigs hence the pristine condition… Some drummer friends saw it posted too but it was right at Xmas time when they didn’t have the money to spend on themselves.. A quick bit of googling and serial number checks etc and I was the proud new owner … For a $K less then i was prepared to pay….. A bargain really… Haven’t seen one as good since!

Thanks Dave. Keep on drumming!

60's Pearl Club Date 'Valencia'

60’s Pearl Club Date ‘Valencia’

Taxidermy – a true passion at the Museum of Natural History

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A beloved pet. He greets you at the door, and my goodness it takes a while before one realises he is no longer of this mortal coil.

Taxidermy – so hot right now. However, for Michael Buzza this fashion was 40 years or more in the making. He is the owner of the Museum of Natural History situated in the historic township of Guildford, West Australia. I have been there numerous times myself. A few times I marched up to the door only to find it closed. Once because they had just received a huge bullock that needed attention. Other times, for no apparent reason, but that it is a unique and independent institution which behaves according to its own needs.

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Mont Blanc – re-used is 100% recycled.

The main thing I love about this museum is that it is an obvious exercise in individual passion, plus skill. This is one of the most exhilarating aspects of this museum. Mr Buzza’s attention to the objects of his expertise reveals his respect for the nature of his subjects. There are narratives, there is attention to detail in the natural environment of the creature, there is beauty. It is a most moving aspect of the museum, the skill combined with the knowledge, love and respect that the owner has towards the protagonists of the modest museum.  Mr Buzza’s passion is genuine. So, albeit a relatively small space, the impact is huge and the rewards to the visitor magnificent.

The Museum is based in the old Guildford Theatre, thereby the museum’s presence also acts as a wonderful preservation of 19th century architecture. The building itself is a most apt setting for the menagerie of fauna inside. One only has to look up, and up to see more specimens – a floating wall of fish species, snakes, Australian natives, a tiger, strangely some fibreglass dinosaurs – it is an eclectic placement of characters, so in keeping with a Victorian salon sensibility. There is a sitting area (much like my 1970s era family loungeroom) to watch informative videos of Mr Buzza in action, and old media snippets. There is a library to peruse. There are cabinets and drawers full of curious specimens. Mr Buzza speaks of his childhood on the farm, and at the age of 10 his interest in taxidermy was sparked. I don’t believe this childhood curiosity and wonder for the natural world ever left the taxidermist, it fuels his collecting style.

Here at the Museum of Love and Mortality we are true believers in supporting the  authentic experience. This is Australia’s most experienced taxidermist, and he has allowed his personal collection to be viewed by us, the humble public. This is a passionate collector – so when next in Perth, go and see.

Museum of Natural History
The Old Guildford Theatre
131 James Street
Guildford, Perth, West Australia
Entry: $5 and worth it

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You really can find a book for everything. Start up tips.

Save Our Skulls: The Mütter Museum’s unique call to alms

We came across this wonderful initiative by the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia and had to share it with you. A part of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia the Mütter Museum is a specialty museum dedicated to medical history. The collection of antique medical instruments, anatomical specimens, including human bodies and oddities, and wax models began in 1858 with a major donation by Dr Thomas Dent Mütter to further education in medicine.

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The Hyrtl collection. Image: The Mütter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia

The museum is home to the Hyrtl skull collection. Josef Hyrtl (1810-1894) was a highly successful and internationally acclaimed Austrian anatomist. His collection of skulls was used for his own research and teachings, including amassing data to debunk the popular 19th century science of Phrenology. However, this amazing collection of skulls is under threat…from vibration! The Mütter Museum need to conserve each skull and remount them on vibration absorbing mounts to prevent future damage by the vibrations of visitors walking past them. This is where the Save our Skulls campaign comes in.

So for US$200 you could adopt (for a 12 month period) the cranium of Domenico Vanello, the 50 year old Austrian man who died in Venice of ascites (no, we didn’t know what that was either – so you see the collection is still teaching people today!); or the Swiss 48 year old Mason Soligo Domenico who died in Vienna in 1872 from diptheria; or the poor young Franz Braun who at 13 years of age committed suicide by hanging after his crime of theft had been discovered. There are a few lady craniums available for adoption still as well, like the lovely Eva Radie, the Catholic maidservant from Croatia who sadly died of unknown causes at the young age of 21.

We are saving our pennies to adopt one on behalf of MOLAM, so we’ll be sure to post a photo of it when we do.

Go on, we know you want to see your name officially mounted next to a human skull sitting in a curious museum with a German name; do your bit for history and help conserve this important collection.

An Exquisite Palette: A Dedication to Two

Here is a re-posting of a short piece I wrote for the fabulous site Art of Mourning. This brooch is truly a work of art in gold, black enamel and hairwork; it is dedicated to two women from the same family. It is another piece from my personal MOLAM collection of mourning jewellery.  Enjoy!

Click here to read the post For An Exquisite Palette: A Dedication to Two.

A mid-Victorian mourning brooch with hairwork dedicated to Agnes & Sarah Robinson

A mid-Victorian mourning brooch with hairwork dedicated to Agnes & Sarah Robinson

Memento Mori in Jewellery: Anachronistic 1780s White Enamel Ring

Here is a re-posting of an indepth analysis of a spectacular and unique ring circa 1780 which Hayden Peters wrote for his fabulous site Art of Mourning. This ring, dedicated to Ann Staneway, is from my personal collection of mourning jewellery.  Enjoy!

Click here to read the post Memento Mori in Jewellery: Anachronistic 1780s White Enamel Ring Where Memento Mori Meets Neo-Classicism.

Anne Staneway 1780 OB 18 Mar 1780 AE 20

Ann Staneway OB 18 Mar 1780 AE 20

Mourning, History & Jewellery in Boston

Mourning ring made for John Gray, the infant son of John and Mary (Otis) Gray, who died six days after his birth in September 1763. The ring is made of gold, with three joined enameled scrolls and large square crystal over gold foil skull set into raised, rayed mount flanked by two small round facet-cut crystals. Scrolls contain text in raised gold Roman capitals in black cloisonné enamel.: "J:GRAY OB.17.SEP.1763.AE 6D."

Mourning ring made for John Gray, the infant son of John and Mary (Otis) Gray, who died six days after his birth in September 1763. The ring is made of gold, with three joined enameled scrolls and large square crystal over gold foil skull set into raised, rayed mount flanked by two small round facet-cut crystals. Scrolls contain text in raised gold Roman capitals in black cloisonné enamel.: “J:GRAY OB.17.SEP.1763.AE 6D.”

Before it closes on the 31st January 2013 you must go and visit the exhibition In Death Lamented at the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston – that is, if you are lucky enough to live close by!

Unfortunately we are based on the other side of the world, but I was wise enough to purchase a copy of the accompanying publication which I had to review on Amazon. I couldn’t help myself, I do that sort of thing.

Sarah Nehama I am proud to say has contributed to this blog. She is a jeweller herself and an avid collector of mourning jewellery, many pieces of hers you will see in the collection. She also authored the book. Here is a fascinating interview with her discussing mourning jewellery and items in the exhibition.

If you have seen the exhibit please let me know what you thought of it below in the comments. As a collector of mourning jewellery I would have loved to have seen it myself!

For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow: A portrait miniature

Here is a re-posting of a short piece I wrote for the fabulous site Art of Mourning. This portrait miniature of a very pink cheeked gent is from the MOLAM collection of yours truly. I’ve always felt kindly toward him, he seems so happy, and is a fitting face to wish all readers a  Happy New Year to all! Enjoy!

Click here to read the post For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow

A portrait miniature of a gentleman with hair verso, C. 1780 – 1810?