Kettle Drums

Maker: Franz Peter Bunsen (ca. 1725–1795 (master 1754))

Date: 1779

Geography: Hanover, Germany

Culture: Hanoverian (German)

Medium: Silver, iron, calfskin, textiles, gilding,

Dimensions: Height: 16 1/8 in. (41 cm)
Diameter: 20 7/8 in. (53 cm)
Weight: 52.9 lb. (24 kg)

Classification: Membranophone-single-headed / kettle drum

Credit Line: Purchase, Robert Alonzo Lehman Bequest, Acquisitions Fund, and Frederick M. Lehman Bequest, 2010

Accession Number: 2010.138.1–.4


This magnificent pair of royal kettle drums was made for the Hanoverian Life Guards of George III (1738-1820), King of Great Britain and Ireland and Elector of Hanover, whose royal coat-of-arms they bear. These ceremonial instruments would have been played on horseback accompanied by similarly mounted trumpeters leading the royal procession for state events. Sets of silver kettle drums were items made for royals in the seventeenth through nineteenth century as symbols splendor and wealth, but only a handful of sets survive today, as many were melted down for the immense amount of precious material they contained. This is the oldest of several pairs built for English monarchs of the House of Hanover, three later pairs remain in use in London, and a set commissioned by William IV for the Hanoverian Court in the 1830s is at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The original crimson banners that would have been draped around the lower portion of the drums during use also survive.