Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Camco Aristocrat

The history of the Camco Drum Company is one of many twists and turns. Originally, the company was located in Indiana and was then known as the George Way Drum Company. Through various business dealings, the company was sold and the new owners moved it to Oak Lawn, Illinois. The company was sold again in the early 70's and moved to Kansas. Eventually, the company was sold once more and moved to Los Angeles. In the late 70's, Camco gave up the ghost and Drum Workshop swooped in and began to build their empire.

In any case, what concerns us here are the drums manufactured by Camco in Oak Lawn many years ago. These drums have become highly prized by collectors, particularly over the last decade. Camco was always second banana to Slingerland and Ludwig, her Chicago neighbors. The company simply didn't have the wherewithal to compete in the marketplace. But the quality of the drums was never in question.

The drum you see pictured was the workhorse of the Camco Drum Company. This was the snare drum that was offered with most of their kits. Indeed, this drum is part of a complete outfit. Camco described this beauty as a " tailor made instrument of mechanical efficiency and modern styling." The Aristocrat, as this beauty was called, has a 4 ply maple shell with reinforcing rings. It came in two sizes, 5 x 14 and 6 1/2 x 14. The list price on the 5 x 14 was 90.00 US. Like the Ludwig drums of the time, the inner shell is coated with white sealant. Unlike the Ludwig drums, or Slingerland drums for that matter, the Aristocrat has its own pop-in drum key holder.

As the reader can see, the drum is finished in a walnut stain. Camco offered stains in red, green, ebony, and clear. They also offered various sparkles, pearls, swirls, and satin flame finishes. Some of these wraps were quite striking, to say the least.

Even though Camco couldn't compete with Ludwig, Slingerland, Gretsch, and Rogers in the advertising arena, the company did produce some very fine drums. This Aristocrat is proof of that fact.

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