Welcome to

Friends of Square Pianos!

This is a sort of on-line club 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 23rd October

 

Five-Octave Morley Clavichord For Sale

 

Relaunched 'Shop' Page

 

An Unusual Broadwood At Auction

 

Clementi 1823 For Sale

 

UK Plans to extend Ivory Ban to Antiques - More Information

 

 

Five-Octave Morley Clavichord For Sale

  Most of the beautifully-built Morley clavichords were the four-octave 'Bach' model, but this is the larger and more versatile 'Philipp Emanuell' version.  Please see the Instruments For Sale page for details of this attractively-priced example.

The 'Shop' Page

  This has now been redesigned, with sections offering strings made to order, tuning-hammers, jacks and wrestpins for spinets, and other items. 

  If you have a broken string, and don't need to purchase a whole reel of wire, a wide range of types and gauges are offered, at a uniform price of 50p per metre.  

 

  Go to the Shop Page

 

 

An Unusual Broadwood

This Broadwood is number 7517, which dates it to 1804, possibly 1803.  As sometimes happens, this one has lost its French stand, and gained four turned legs.  But when we look a little closer, we notice something rather unusual.  Broadwood squares until about 1806/7 featured the beautiful brass 'peacock' under-dampers.  These were reliable, silent in action, and efficient, certainly on the light strings of the earliest instruments.  Perhaps their one drawback was the difficulty of making a pedal work reliably without spoiling the otherwise delightful touch - most of the early Broadwoods did not have a pedal.  However, by the early nineteenth-century, the style of the music began to require constant 'pedalling', and the dampers invented by Southwell were to be the way forward.  These were patented in 1796, and licensed to L&B/Clementi.  The patent protection should have lasted until 1811, but several makers did not wait that long.  Broadwoods adopted them as standard from about 1807, and when a piano before that date with the new-style dampers appeared, it  was thought to be a retrospective conversion.  However, several more have turned up in recent years, showing no trace of the removal of the old dampers, and this looks like another one.  So did Broadwoods occaisonally sell pianos in this style before 1807?

The other unusual, and very attractive, feature of this piano is the presentation of the maker's name in a style I have never seen before.

This is beautifully done, and there is no reason at all to doubt that it is original.  I like it!

 

This piano is for sale at the Auction of Robert Bell & Co at Horncastle (Lincolnshire) on Wednesday October 26th, with an estimate of £300 - £500.

 

Thanks to Sheila Bell of Robert Bell & Co for the information and pictures.

Clementi 1823 For Sale

This Clementi does need a full restoration, but it could then be a fine piano.  As far as we can see, all the work should be within the capability of an enthusiastic amateur.  Please see the Sale Page for details.

UK Plans to extend Ivory Ban to Antiques - 

More Information

  What with Brexit, party conferences, and other concerns, it is perhaps surprising that the governent has found time to consider the future of ivory sales inthe UK, especially as the issue was dropped from the 2017 manifesto.  However, an announcement about progress on the proposed ban appeared in the Daily Telegraph (and doubtless elsewhere) on October 6th.  

  In summary, the proposal seeks to extend the ban to the sale of all worked ivory, regardless of date. The good news is that the exceptions are proposed for sales to and between museums, to musical instruments, items containing only small amounts of ivory, and items of  significant historical, cultural, or artistic value.  These last two categories are obviously subject to judgement (what about a Chiparus Art Deco figure?)  but the musical instruments bit is clear enough.  So if the proposal is adopted into law, our historic pianos and harpsichords would be safe.  

  There is, however, a vocal lobby in favour of a total ban, with no exemptions.  If you wish to make a comment in favour of the proposals, there is an open website consultation until 29th December 

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/banning-uk-sales-of-ivory

Or, of course, you could write to your MP or to Michael Gove, the minister resonsible.

Pape 1833 For Sale

A fine piano, in playing order, the same model as the one owned by Queen Victoria, and still to be seen at Osborne House.  This one is in the city of its birth, Paris.  Please see the Sale Page for details.

Clementi 1830 For Sale

One of the last pianos to carry the famous name of Muzio Clementi, before the firm became Collard & Collard.  Please see the Sale Page for details.

 

Important note: pedal now located for this one.

Broadwood 1832 For Sale

Please see the Sale Page for details.

Broadwood 1835 For Sale

Furniture-designers usually prefer their pieces to be symmetrical, and one of the more successful attempts to achieve this in a square piano was Broadwood's innovative 'cylinder front' design.  This handsome early example is now offered for sale.  Please see the Sale Page for details of a fine piano that is just a little bit 'diffenent'.

The Colt Clavier Collection

Announced recently...

More details will be published as soon as they are available.

Chelveston 2018

We all enjoyed our Spinet Day at Chelveston earlier this year, and I am happy to confirm that we can look forward to another party in April 2018; we are organising this together with the British Clavichord Society.

 

  We are particularly pleased to announce that Derek Adlam has agreed to be our Guest of Honour and principal speaker.

  For fifty years and more, Derek has been a major figure in the early keyboard instruments world, as a maker and player.  We look forward to tales from his early years, his time at the Colt Collection, the Adlam-Burnett partnership at Finchcocks, and now at Welbeck, where he has been specialising in clavichords.

  In 2017 we assembled a remarkable collection of spinets, but for 2018 the scope will be wider.  As well as at least three spinets, there will be clavichords and (I hope) at least one square piano.  We are supposed to be Friends of Square Pianos, after all!

 The programme is in its early stages, but Derek's presentation will be split into about four conversational sections, with music in between.  We are also hoping that one of these interludes will be a recital on a newly-restored John Player spinet.

  As before, there will be a substantial buffet lunch, as well as refreshments throughout the day.  The fee for the day is likely to be about £25.  Booking will open formally in the New Year, but by all means make a provisional reservation now by email to David on 

friends.sp@btinternet.com

Carolina Music Museum to open in Greenville, SC, Spring 2018

 Recent years have seen some sad changes in the musical collections in the UK.  Richard and Katrina Burnett decided that the time had come for them to 'downsize', and consequently Finchcocks closed, and much of the collection has been sold.  Barbara Lore Colt died, some of the Colt Collection has been sold, and its future seems uncertain.  Musical instruments no longer have a place in the plans of the V&A, and although some of the instruments have gone to the Horniman Museum, many are in indefinite storage.  Additionally, the private collection of Christopher Hogwood has been dispersed following his death.  All this is against a background of declining musical education in state schools, which makes it more difficult for most young people to become actively involved.

 

  So it is very refreshing to announce a splendid new Initiative in the United States, the founding of the Carolina Music Museum in Greenville, SC, due to open in  the Spring of 2018.  

This owes much to the efforts and enthusiasm of our Friends Tom and Debra Strange; Tom is seen in the above picture on a recent visit to the UK, inspecting (with a feline advisor) the action of a rare 1774 square piano by Weber.  

Tom Strange has had a life-long interest in early keyboards beginning in the 1970s and including building and playing harpsichords and restoring early pianos. That interest built enormously with the advent of the internet and the ability to connect with people all over the world. The first antique instrument entered his collection over twenty years ago, and was followed by others over the years.

 Ultimately the collection grew into something that seemed appropriate to share with the public. With continuing visits to his house by students and professionals from all over the world, it suggested that a more permanent home for the collection might make sense. A splendid use of the collection for the 2017 HKSNA conference last May made it clear that having it in a dedicated, climate controlled space would be a requirement for the instrumentsto be used with an eye toward conservation and limited disruption.

  After a three year search and several dead ends, the museum now has a lease on an ideal building in Greenville SC, set on the campus of Heritage Green, and home to the Upcountry History Museum, Greenville County Museum of Art, The Children’s Museum, and others, with state of the art climate control, security, and ADA compliant facilities. There will be an office, performance and display space in the roughly 8000 square foot facility set on a campus-like green space, with ready access to parking and within easy walking distance of all the museums as well as downtown Greenville.

  The first show will be titled ‘Facing South: Keyboard Instruments in the Early Carolinas’ with a projected opening date of late March, 2018. The show will highlight twenty-seven selected instruments that have been associated with music in the Carolinas from 1700 to 1860, either by repute or using instruments that have been here since they were new. However the museum must be more than early keyboards, and while the opening show is being mounted and begins running, work continues in the background on additional projects to bring other instruments and important southern ethnomusicology interests to the Carolina Music Museum.

  The core of the museum will always be the early keyboard collection, with a mission to help emerging musicians and seasoned professionals understand the critical ability of the historic keyboard to bring forward the actual intent of the composers who knew them and composed from them. 

There is now a permanent new page 'Carolina Music Museum' on the website, where updates and details of the collection will be posted as they become available.

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.    

 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.

Square Piano Tech

Please take time to visit our sister website www.squarepianotech.com  This is run by our Friend Tom Strange in America, and is rapidly growing into a treasure-store of permanent wisdom.  

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..

My real work now is with cats, though.  It is my privilege to be co-ordinator of my local branch of Cats Protection; we rescue and findhomes for about 300 cats a year.  Our band of volunteers give freely of their love and time, but our vets' bills are truly frightening.  If you would like to help, please use the 'Donate' button below.  Thank you.

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© David Hackett