the Pipe and Tabor compendium

the Pipe and Tabor compendium

essays on the three-hole pipe

tabor / drum

Drum heads, historically, were made out of calf, goat, or sheep skin. In the 17th century in France,
Mersenne (1636) notes that the heads should be made of sheepskin.

makers and sellers
[Also see 18th century makers and sellers here]
Germany1698 Germany
[Mary Evans 01442196 ]

14th century reenactment14th century reenactment
scraping skin with a lunelarum


1739 John Linn, bookbinder sold among a host of other items: 1739Newcastle Courant - Saturday 04 August 1739

17481748The Ipswich Journal - Saturday 19 March 1748
1730 - 501730-50 Germany
1751 1751The Ipswich Journal - Saturday 03 August 1751
1765 1765

Also… "writing parchment, drum-heads" …etc etc

Newcastle Chronicle - Saturday 06 July 1765
1772 Newpaper advertisement: 1772Manchester Mercury - Tuesday 26 May 1772
1772 Tabors were made of anything suitable:

“Friday last the Glassmakers at Newcastle made a most droll and laughable procession.—
- Their champion and other officers were mounted on asses, …sticks and shovels in place of music,
and empty butter firkins for drums.”

Leeds Intelligencer - Tuesday 10 November 1772

1802 Auction that included “sundry flutes and fifes and drum heads”1802Kentish Weekly Post or Canterbury Journal - Tuesday 06 July 1802
1806 1806Morning Advertiser - Saturday 15 November 1806
1807 Advertisement. Also listed are drum heads. 1807Oxford University and City Herald - Saturday 23 May 1807
18071807Chester Chronicle - Friday 03 July 1807
1809 Mr Thomas also sold drum heads and snares: 1809Hampshire Chronicle - Monday 23 January 1809
1817 London advertisement: 1817Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser - Saturday 27 December 1817
1818 Jamaica 1818Royal Gazette of Jamaica - Saturday 17 October 1818
1825 Toplis and Son Auction included: 1825Morning Herald (London) - Saturday 23 July 1825
1827 Sale also includes two drum heads and two sticks1827Salisbury and Winchester Journal - Monday 08 October 1827

1843 new inventions: a case heard in the Vice Chancellors’ Courts [part]:1843English Chronicle and Whitehall Evening Post - Saturday 11 November 1843

More information on this case in the Morning Herald (London) - Thursday 02 July 1846, pages 6, 7

18471847Newcastle Courant - Friday 25 June 1847
1877 1877Belfast Telegraph - Tuesday 09 January 1877
1879 1879Banbury Advertiser - Wednesday 24 December 1879
1881 1881Belfast Telegraph - Monday 27 June 1881
1881 1881Newbury Weekly News and General Advertiser - Thursday 14 July 1881
18821882Banbury Guardian - Thursday 16 February 1882 1883 1883Oxfordshire Weekly News - Wednesday 26 September 1883
1896 advert [detail] 1896Derry Journal - Monday 17 August 1896


Newspaper advertisements for sales of drum-heads continued into the twentieth century.

goat skinsgoat skins on both drum heads
21st century maker21st century, Leon, Spain
re-use of parchment
re-use of parchment

England, cases heard at The Old Bailey, London and in the newspaper:
6th September 1693
John Redshaw was arraigned for stealing a parcel of Parchment Writings, value 200 l. from one John Day on the King's Highway , but no Evidence coming against him, he was acquitted .”

17th January 1739
"124. of London , Gent . was indicted, for that he, on the 28th of October , &c. with Force and Arms, in the Parish of St. Dunstan in the West , did feloniously steal, &c. a certain Parchment Writing, … the large Pieces the Witness's Wife sold at a Turner's Shop, to make Drum-heads. …"

3rd April 1816
"372. CHARLES RICHARD HURD and RICH-ARD KILMINSTER were indicted for stealing, on the 6th of November , one hundred pounds weight of parchment, value 5l. the property of our Lord the King .
 In the month of November last, I missed four bundles of bills and answers, and twenty three bundles of replications. I suppose I missed from one to two hundred weight. I know the two prisoners by their being writers in the office. They are father and son-in-law. In consequence of some information, I went to Mrs. Bridges, Drum-maker, at Hoxton, on the last day of February. I found there a great quantity of the parchment which I had lost, made up into drums and tambarines. I should suppose altogether I found about a hundred weight of it there. It all consisted of bills, answers, and replications."

1816 newpaper report of a Court case: 1816Bell's Weekly Messenger - Sunday 17 March 1816

24th November 1834
"FREDERICK JOHN MUNTON (police-constable G 145.) On the 20th of November, at half-past six o'clock, I was on duty in Ropemaker-street—I saw the two prisoners—Shelley had a bundle under his arm—I asked what it was—he said some parchment which belonged to that young man, (pointing to Gray who was behind him,) and it was some that his master had given him—my brother officer took Gray—we went to the station-house—in going along, Shelley said it was some that Gray bought of his master, that he had given it to him to carry, and they were going to Whitecross-street, to sell it to a drum-maker"

tabors / drums on ships
see here for details of pipes and tabors taken on ships for signalling and dancing. 1834Shipping and Mercantile Gazette - Tuesday 28 November 1843
drums with rims
11th century11th century ivory box lid 18th century painting18th century painting tamboril Spaintamboril Spain
20142014 Basque tamborilTamboril from Castile and León, Spain      
tabors / drums without rims
Bargello chess board11460-1470 Bargello chess board rim
southern Netherlands/Spain
15801580 Germany
1580 close-up
before 1500Before 1500 Flanders before 1500 1541 Mary Rose1541 Mary Rose England
14831483 painting, Spain 17th century17th century Italy, sketch
18th century France18th century France
This type of drum is popular in many parts of Occitania
(Provence, Bas Languedoc and Gascony). 
tabor strap
around neck    
13th centuryend 13th century England 1400 France1400 France mid 15th century Swedenmid 15th century Sweden
hanging from little finger    

before 1500Before 1500 Flanders

1515 Germany1515 Germany 1541 Holland1541 print Holland
hanging from wrist 15th century Germany15th century Germany
1540 England1540 England f.98v
1596 Germany1596 Germany 1600 England1600 England


17451745 painting England
Chile2022 Chile
Elizabthan20th century England 'Elizabethan'
hanging from forearm    
16th or 17th century16th or 17th century, glass England

woman taborer1440

unknownunknown medieval player1780's Peru
FranceFrance 15th century France15th century manuscript France Winsome Bartlettsource England 20th century
over one shoulder        
13th century Spain13th century Spain hybridc.1300 hybrid. playerc.1350 Belgium, probably Tournai 15th century Italy15th century Italy  
1666 England1666 England
woodcut ballad
17371737 France 18th century tiles18th century tiles, Portugal  
playerplayer Ecuador 2021 Japan2021 Japan    
around waist  
1412 France1412 France  
the snare
The snare is across the top drum head; sometimes there are two snares to make a louder rattle when the drum is beaten.
13401340 manuscript, England
hole in tabor / drum side
drumunknown medieval manuscript 14th century Italy14th century Italy medievalmedieval unknown
13251325 Netherlands 1425 France1425 France devil
15th century15th century France    

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