are ways to look at the history and answer that question.
After talking with Bill Ludwig III on the topic, he
did mention that they switched materials based on
cost. Out of his control of course, because he and
his father always thought the Ludwig Black Beauty
should be brass.
we take a look at the properties of the two metals
they are similar raw materials, but different in physical
characteristics. Here are some known facts about the
two metals. (We don't know for sure exactly what Ludwig
was using and or having made at the time.)
copper and 40% zinc
copper and 20% tin
resistant to corrosion
causes small pieces
cases metal strands
now back to drums! In 1977 we know for sure they are
brass then the shell change starts taking place around
1981 when the catalog now shows the shells as bronze.
So that is a transition point that causes a lot of
confusion. The company also changed ownership around
must have still had brass shells still in inventory.
They needed to have shells if someone ordered a brass
shell or if someone sent a brass shell back.
this point, the Black Beauty is not pictured in catalogs
and does not show up until the 1988. There is no mention
in the earlier catalogs of a Black Beauty finish being
the drum we see in 1988 just looks a little different
in finish then the original 1977 Black Beauty. Here
is a side by side shot from the two different catalogs.
You should be able to see the difference. (click photo)
the bronze shell drums stay in the catalogs into the
90's and in the 1994 catalog we see them being brass
goes without saying that I might not have every Ludwig
catalog or flyer, but as I find more information I
will add it here and update the information.