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  20th January 2019


S J Noble c. 1823 For Sale


Export Control for Mahoon Harpsichord


Tomkison c. 1805 For Sale


Broadwood 1828 For Sale


Clementi 1804 - Sold


New Damper Cloth from Graham Walker


Allie Cade to be New Executive Director

at the Carolina Music Museum


The Ivory Bill is now Law


Adam Beyer c. 1787 - 1790 For Sale


Broadwood 1790 For Sale

S J Noble c. 1823 For Sale

Please see the Sale Page for details of this interesting restoration project

Export Control for Mahoon Harpsichord

  Like many of the instruments in the sale of the Colt Collection last year, the beautiful Mahoon Harpsichord was sold to an overseas buyer.  However, we have just learnt that this one has recently been made the subject of an export control order.  It will remain in the UK temporarily at least, to see if a home can be found for it, and the necessary £85,560 raised.  


  This is a particularly fine harpsichord by the Royal Maker, and one of only two known English harpsichords from the 1830s.  We instinctively think that instruments as important as this 'should' be in our National Collection, but we haven't really got one.  Compared to other works of art and museum objects, £85,000 really isn't a lot of money, and I'm sure it could be raised, but where would it go?  Your thoughts please.




Thanks to Luke Bradley for spotting this.

Tomkison c. 1805 For Sale

This piano, an early example by the famous Royal Maker, does need a full overhaul, but the signs are that a very good outcome would be possible.  Please see the Sale Page for details.

Broadwood 1828 For Sale

This Broadwood has an elegant cross-banded case, and is an early example of a piano with the advanced check action. 

Please see the Sale Page for details.

Clementi 1804 - Sold

When properly restored, these early Clementis have a lovely sound.  And thanks to the escapement action , responsive pedal, and light 'Irish' dampers, they are a joy to play.  the beautiful flower paintings on the nameboard are a bonus.   This example does need a thorough overhaul, but it is in exceptionally complete and original condition.  Please see the Sale Page for details.

New Authentic Damper-Cloth

from Graham Walker

  Graham Walker, well-known to us as the supplier of authentic green action-cloth, has commissioned two damper-cloths for early keyboard instruments.  The texture is closer than that which has hitherto been possible, which makes it easier to cut into the small pieces needed for piano and harpsichord dampers.  It is now available, in off-white and a match for the original cochineal-red shade.  

  Please see the Suppliers page for further details.

Allie Cade to be New Executive Director

at the Carolina Music Museum

  We are pleased to be able to announce that Alexandra (Allie) Cade has recently been appointed Executive Director at the Carolina Music Museum.  She has recently been awarded her Master's degree at the University of Delaware; the subject of  her thesis was 'Amateur Piano Making in Antebellum America'.  Allie was Guest Speaker at our Friends of Square Pianos party at Chelveston in April 2018, where she gave a presentation on this.  


  Before then, she spent time with Ed Wright at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, making spinets by truly traditional methods (no power tools!)  See an article on the Spinet Page for more about this. 


  We congratulate Allie on her appointment, and wish her every success in the future.  

The Ivory Bill Receives Royal Assent

  The Bill which bans the sale of virtually all ivory within the United Kingdom received Royal Assent on Thursday, 20th December and is now law.  The Secretary of State will bring the Ivory Bill into force by regulations, no earlier than 6 months after Royal Assent; i.e. presumably late  2019.  

  There are very few permitted exemptions, but fortunately for us musical instruments made before 1975, and containing less than 20% ivory, are one of those exemptions.  

  In order that they may be sold legally, they must be registered by the seller, and details of the on-line registration system will be announced in due time.  There will be a fee for registration.  We should note that the instrument must be registered before it can be SOLD, and the registration will not be transferrable to the new owner, who must therefore register it in his own name before he can sell it again.  

   This has implications for the Sale Page on this website; once the registration scheme is in place, I will be requiring all UK sellers to show that their instruments are registered before I will accept advertisements.    

 The exemption from the ban applies only to instruments made before 1975, and those made after that date cannot be registered, even if the ivory used for their keyboards is recycled from nineteenth-century instruments.  Therefore the harpsichord in the above picture will need new keytops if it is ever to be sold; otherwise it will have no monetary value.  More about this later!



This is a completely separate issue, but unless there is a deal which covers the movement of CITES affected materials (e.g. ivory) between the UK and the EC, then after March 29th 2019,  exports and imports will require CITES certificates as with any other third country.  


As well as ivory, other materials come under the CITES umbrella, including rosewood (all Dallbergia species) 


Please remember that the governments of both exporting and importing countries need to be satisfied, and there may also be completely separate export or import restrictions.  

Adam Beyer c. 1787 - 1790 For Sale

Please see the Sale Page for this piano by a sought-after maker.

Broadwood 1790 For Sale

  Regular visitors to this site will know that these 'first generation' Broadwood pianos are my favourites, especially the standard model with its understated elegance and trestle stand.  The heading picture on this page shows Tommy sitting on my own 1787 example.

  Occasionally one comes up for sale;  this one is the finest I have seen.  It is the property Douglas Hollick, who has an international reputation as an organist, haprsichordist, and scholar.  Please see the Sale Page for details.

Adam Beyer 1774 For Sale

The beautifully-made pianos ofAdam Beyer are always sought-after.  This early example with a 'short' keyboard is now offered on the

Sale Page.

William Rolfe & Sons c. 1810 For Sale

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

Southwell Upright Square c. 1798 For Sale

Price Reduced

This is perhaps the most challenging project ever to be offered on these pages, with the possibility of an outstanding result.  It is one of the very few survivors of one of the most interesting of all pianos, by the great innovator William Southwell of Dublin.  As with many Southwell pianos, the quality of the cabinet making is outstanding.  Nothing of the interior mechanism has survived, so this will need to be reconstructed from scratch, but full data are available.  This will in fact be a replica piano in an original case, but no musical compromises will be necessary in the struggle to re-use parts which are past their best. 


Price reduced.


Please see the Sale Page for details of this rare opportunity.   

Chelveston 2019

We enjoyed a successful Friends of Square Pianos party in my home village of Chelveston in April last year, and planning is well under way for Saturday April 13th 2019.

As before, there will be at least a dozen pianos, spinets, and harpsichords there, and the theme will be 'Owners, Restorers, and Makers'.  The picture above shows about half of the instruments that we brought together in the hall in 2018.


Details are on the Chelveston 2019 page of the website.  Numbers will be limited to about 40 to ensure a good social occasion, and we now provisionally have a Full House.  But please get in touch if you would like to join the reserve list.

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