This drum presents an unusual and unique combination of features, and much work was done in the process of authenticating it. Chet Falzerano knew of this drum and was of great help when working to authenticate it. In addition, the owner who sold me the drum also had information that authenticates it. The nameplate on the drum was not engraved, suggesting that this drum might not have been built for a customer, but may have been a special project that Billy had undertaken. My friend, Arnie Lang, provided expert restoration for this drum.
Below you will see an original photo prior to the restoration work. Arnie Lang replaced the rims with die cast and gold plated them to match the hardware. In addition, Arnie skillfully plugged the heater holes (which are underneath the name plate that Arnie created for the drum. There is only one flaw in the namplate: Arnie engraved this as a Gretsch/Gladstone, which is incorrect. Arnie was going to have the correction made and a new name plate created, but he never got this work done before he passed away. So, I have decided to leave this as-is since it adds to the story. The Gretsch Gladstone drums differed in many ways and were made by Gretsch. This drum was made by Billy and incorporated the features used in all of his Gladstone drums. For those of you that are not familiar with the differnces between Gretsch Gladstone and Billy's drums, here are some of the key items:
1. Gretsch Gladstone drums were made in the Gretsch factory, not by Billy.
2. The Gretsch Gladstone drums had the traditional Gretsch "round badge". See pic.
3. The Gretsch Gladstone drums utilized a "single post" lug, while all of Billy's drums utilized the "double post"
4. The key for the Gretsch Gladstone drums mounted to the shell, as did Billy's, but Billy's key was engraved with his name and also had a triangular surround plate with Billy's name and patent numbers.
5. The internal muffler system on Gretsch Gladstone varied and was typically the round knob muffler used by Gretsch at the time. Billy's Gladstone drums had a muffler system that was incorporated into the strainer and was graduated for tension via a lever and numbers engraved on the side panel.
6. Many of the Gretsch Gladstone drums were identified as such with the words Gretsch Gladstone engraved into the shell above the strainer.
7. Gretsch Gladstone snares were wrapped drums using the various pearl or sparkle finishes available in the day. Billy's drums were not wrapped, with the exception of this drum and a few select others that were made to suit specific customer requests, such as Cozy Cole, Saul Leslie Beimel and a few others.
Now: Time for some photos.