Welcome to

Friends of Square Pianos!

This is a website for anyone who owns, or would like to own, a square piano, or possibly a spinet. Or anyone who is just interested, possibly to learn a little more.

 

Please get in touch with me, David, on friends.sp@btinternet.com with questions, comments, or just to say 'Hello'.  This is a site for everyone, especially those new to the world of Square Pianos.  And of course, we very much appreciate the support of those with more experience.

 

Update 17th June

 

Sale Results: Deckert Clavichord at Gardiner Houlgate sold for £16,000

 

Andrew Rochead & Son c. 1815 Sold

 

Piano Auctions June 27th, and Meeting of Friends of Square Pianos June 26th

 

 

The Zumpe & Buntebart Piano of the

Museu de la Musica de Barcelona

 

Broadwood 1801 For Sale

 

 

Andrew Rochead & Son c. 1815 - Sold 

Please see the Sale Page for details of this handsome piano.

Piano Auctions June 27th, and Meeting of Friends of Square Pianos June 26th

Piano Auctions' June sale will be held as usual at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London.  There will be the customary informal gathering of a few Friends of Square Pianos on Wednesday June 26th,  the viewing day before the sale.  I will probably be there when the doors open at 10.oo, and after checking in will be having a cup of tea in the café in Red Lion Square gardens, where we will probably have lunch.  Everyone will be welcome to join us to look at the pianos and have a chat, especially if you have not been before.  

 

Good news that there will be three square pianos in this sale, as well as a clavichord and two spinets.  

For me, of course, the star of the show will be an original eighteenth-century spinet by Wilson of Whitby.

 

Please see the Auction Page for details of the other instruments.

The Zumpe & Buntebart Piano of the

Museu de la Musica de Barcelona

This is the first book solely devoted to Zumpe and Buntebart, and is written around one piano in particular.  Unusually, it has three authors, Pablo Gomez Abalos (historian and pianist), Michael Cole (technical expert and historian), and Kerstin Schwarz (restorer).

Please see the Bookshelf Page for a review, and details of how to order the book.

Broadwood 1801 For Sale

Regular visitors to this website will know that these early Broadwoods are my favourite square pianos, with their beautiful brass under-dampers, and detail improvements to the single action.  The fine example now offered for sale is a 5½-octave model, fully restored by David Hunt.  Please see the Sale Page for details.

Clavichords at Gardiner Houlgate

An unfretted clavichord by Johann Nicolas Deckert, Gross Breitenbach, (circa 1810)  was the star of the show at Gardiner Houlgate's auction on June 14th.   This one is recorded in 'Boalch', formerly in the collection of Michael Thomas, and used by him for recordings.  Also featured in the Galpin Society Journal, volume LXI, 2008 in the article 'Carl Engel and the Clavichord' by Paul  Simmonds.   A similar clavichord is in the Bate Collection, Oxford.  Not many 'original' clavichords about; this one sold for £16,000.

 

Also two 'modern' clavichords, by Morley and Sperrhake.

 

Please see the Auction Page for details.

 

Chickering c. 1867 - Offers Invited

These 'later' pianos are an important part of the Square Piano Story, and there are comparatively few of them in the UK. 

Please see the Sale Page for details of this one, now looking for a new home, and a note about the historical importance of Chickering and Sons of Boston.

Collard & Collard 1835 Free to Good Home

Please see the Sale Page for details of this one, kindly offered

Free to Good Home.

Zuckerman/Kilpatrick 'Italian' Virginal 1981 For Sale

In the 'Golden Age' of kit-built instruments, this was one of the best.  Of course, a lot depended on the skill and care of the builder, and John Kilpatrick did a good job on this one.  It has been carefully maintained in working order since it was built, and used for many concerts and recitals over the years.  It has recently returned to its builder for refurbishment, and is now offered for sale Ready to Play.  Please see the Sale Page for details.

The Harpsichord and Pianoforte Magazine

We are happy to announce that this magazine will soon be relaunched with a new editor, Francis Knights.   To celebrate this, a 'virtual issue' is being offered to Friends of Square Pianos. Details are on the flyer below.

HF VI i trailer order form.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [702.3 KB]

Chelveston 2019

We enjoyed a record turnout of Friends for our Party on Saturday -  Thanks to all who came, to make the day the enjoyable occasion it was. Special thanks to those who are brought instruments - there were seventeen in total.  Perhaps the highlight for me was the delightful duet on two of my spinets, played by Lizzie and Chris.

It was good to see some new faces, and perhaps the most important part of the day was chatting and drinking all those cups of tea.

More on the Chelveston 2109 page soon

The Keene & Brackley Spinet

After spending some time in Chelveston for rebuilding of the soundboard, the famous Keene and Brackley spinet has arrived safely at its new home in South Carolina.

 

There were some anxious moments (to put it mildly) with the Port Authorities in Baltimore, but after skilful negotiation by Myrtle (of G&R Removals) and Tom Strange himself, the problems were overcome.  However, the prospect of getting antique ivory keyboards into the USA is looking increasingly difficult and risky.

However, all is well now, and after careful packing and shipping by G&R, the spinet needed only minor adjustments to the tuning to play again.  It sounds lovely, with a lyrical rather solemn tone, and is now set for a long and active future with the Carolina Music Museum.

De-Ivorising

  It's always fun to invent a new word: although we won't find

'de-ivorising' in the dictionary, we know exactly what it means.

  With the approach of the UK restrictions on the sale of ivory (see the Ivory Page for details) we might consider the implications for each of us personally.  We will soon be able to register our old instruments, which will mean that they can be sold legally after the regulations come into force, later this year.  But the exemption from the ban applies to musical instruments made before 1975, and many of us have instruments made after this date by Morley and other professional makers, or indeed by ourselves, which have ivory keys.  Even if they were made a few years earlier than this, it might be difficult to prove. We should note that the age of the ivory itself has no bearing on the case; no doubt partly because of the difficulty of proving its age, I see no mention in the Bill allowing for the use of antique ivory.  There are also considerations of CITES, and so we should be actively considering replacing the ivory on our modern instruments with an accceptable substitute.  

  The second of my instruments to receive attention has been a spinet made in 2006.  This origially had boxwood sharps with thin ivory slips (recycled from old uprights) on top, as seen in the upper notes in the picture above.  For the update, I decided to make 'skunktail' sharps, as favoured by Thomas Hitchcock in particular.  These are sandwiches of Eforyn and ebony, prepared on the bandsaw, and finished by sanding. 

 

 I am very pleased with the result, which looks and feels better than the original.  Making the sharps was simple enough, but I should make two observations:  As I noticed with making the sharps for the replica Blunt spinet, the Elforyn has a severe blunting effect on bandsaw blades, which will not cut wood afterwards!  I believe that this is due to the fine mineral filler in the resin.  Also noticeable was a very fine white dust (probably the same filler) which got everywhere, and clogged the filter on the vacuum-extractor.  The bandsaw was directly connected to the extractor, but use of a belt-sander was more of a problem.  We all know that we should wear proper masks for dusty operations, but in view of the very fine nature of this powder, I suggest that it is particularly important in this case.  

Making a Spinet

  Some of you may have been following the construction - starting from a pile of wood - of this replica of a remarkable and important instrument.  The spinet is now complete and playing well, and has gone to its new home in Scotland; a second replica has joined the Carolina Music Museum.   Please see the Spinet Page for the story.

The Spinet Page

  We all love those beautiful English Spinets, and now they have a Page of their own, where I hope to encourage interest, ownership, and amateur makers.

About the 'Webmaster' (David Hackett)

My only claim to respectability is that Carl Dolmetsch once offered to take me on as an apprentice.  This was in 1962, when I had just shown him my first clavichord, and been his guest at Haslemere.  However, he also advised me that it would be better to go to University, and I accepted his advice.  Early Keyboard Instruments have therefore remained a hobby, and now happily retired, I am able to spend a bit more time enjoying them - and encouraging others, I hope..

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© David Hackett