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 10th November

 

 

A New Name for the Square Piano World

 

Collard & Collard c. 1830 - FtGH

 

An Early Rolfe For Sale

 

Spinet Kit For Sale

 

Chelveston 2019

 

Broadwood Cabinet Piano c. 1837 For Sale

 

 

A New Discovery -  a Piano by Baker Harris

  The name of Baker Harris is well-known, but as a maker of spinets.  There were several spinet-makers called Harris active in the mid eighteenth century, of whom probably more than one was called John, but whether Baker Harris was related to them or not, I don't know.

 

  Twenty-one spinets and three harpsichords by Baker Harris are known to have survived, and we can establish from dates on them that he was active from 1740 until 1780 at least.  But there has been no record of a piano by him, until now!

  There is no reason to doubt the authenticity of the calligraphy, and in any case, why fake it?  The date is given as 1785, which is exactly right for the style of the piano.  All of the known spinets (and the 1780 harpsichord name-batten, formerly in the Colt Collection) have the presentation of the name in a Latinised form -  'Baker Harris Londini Fecit 17xx' - but this piano extends the maker's known dates by five years, and we remember that Christopher Ganer changed from Latin to English in 1786, and John Broadwood in 1793.  

  Internally, the piano is entirely conventional, with three handstops, single action, and lever overhead dampers.  The case is perhaps a little smarter than ususal, with handsome veneer and cross-banding outside, and attractive marquetry panels on the nameboard.  It is in private ownership in Sussex, England.  

 

  This interesting discovery does add a new aspect to the career of Baker Harris, as well as establishing that he was still active in 1785.  

 

  Any thoughts?

Collard & Collard c. 1830 

Free to Good Home

This piano does need a major repair to the hitchrail, but the owner is generously offering it Free to Good Home.  Please see the Sale Page for details.

An Early Rolfe For Sale

The early pianos of Wiliam Rolfe are noted for their beautiful flower paintings on the nameboard.  Please see the Sale Page for details of this major restoration opportunity.

Spinet Kit For Sale

When I was young (a very long time ago now) I would have loved an opportunity like this!  Please see the Sale Page for details of this partly-built kit - surely an ideal first project, and a great learning opportunity.

Chelveston 2019

We enjoyed a successful Friends of Square Pianos party in my home village of Chelveston earlier this 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 are assured of a Full House.  So please get in touch as soon as you can if you would like to reserve a place.

Broadwood Cabinet Piano c. 1837 For Sale

Please see the Sale Page for details of this fine and unusual piano.

Duwaer in Concert

We are so used to seeing grand pianos on the concert platform, that it makes a welcome change to see and hear a square piano on the stage.  Here we see Olaf van Hees' splendid Duwaer (c 1830) played by Anders Muskens in a performance of Beethoven's 3rd piano concerto.  The orchestra is of a size that would have been familar to Beethoven; it is the Neue Mannheimer Orchester playing on original instruments.  

 

https://soundcloud.com/o-s-van-hees/beethoven-3rd-pianoconcerto-anders-muskens-da-neue-mannheimer-orchester-on-original-instruments

 

Please folow the link, and notice not only how the piano and the orchestra are in balance, but how clearly we can hear the sound of the individual instruments of the orchestra.

 

The piano itself will be familiar to some of us - Olaf very kindly brought it to our Friends of Square Pianos party in April this year.  Here we see it in company with about half of the fifteen early keyboard instruments that we assembled for the occasion.

Planning for Chelveston 2019 (13th April) is now well in hand, and the formal announcement will appear on this page soon.

Piano Auctions September Sale 

There were two square pianos in the sale, an Érard c. 1803, and a 1799 Broadwood.  Both carried estimates of £1,000 - £1,500, and both sold for the top of the estimate.  The difference was that the Broadwood played perfectly (Luke Bradley gave us a mini-recital) whereas the Érard could only be described as a 'challenging project'.  Please see the Auction Page for details of these and other interesting instruments in the sale.

Interesting Results at the

Gardiner Houlgate  Auction

Only the Longman & Broderip square piano and the spinet were actually sold, indicating yet again that there is very little interest in 'modern' harpsichords.  

  

Of particular interest to me was the nice-looking replica of the famous

c. 1710 Keene & Brackley spinet.  This one was made by Anthony Calvert c. 1995, presumably from the Early Music Shop kit.  

Deservedly, this one sold for £1,750 (plus premium), well above the estimate of £300 - £500.  Let's bear in mind, though, that the kit for this spinet is still available from The Renaissance Workshop Company, at something over £5,500 including VAT and carriage.

 

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

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.

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..

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© David Hackett