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 April



Chelveston 2018 - The Instruments


UK Ivory Sales Ban Announced



Chelveston 2018 - The Instruments

Thanks to our Friends, we had a fine collection of instruments at the party.  Some of my favourites will be featured on this page over the next few weeks.

  Most of our English square pianos were made in London, but there were a few notable exceptions.  Thomas Haxby was born in York, the second of seven children, and baptised on 15th October 1739.  Robert, his father,  was a carpenter, and it was most probably from him that his son learned the basic skills that were to serve him so well.

  There is no record of his education or of an apprenticeship, but in 1751, at the age of 21, he was appointed Clerk for the parish of St Michael-le-Belfry, and also as 'singing man' in York Minster.  It is here that we find the first evidence of his involvement with musical instruments, for in 1754, having repaired the bellows of the Minster organ, he was paid six guineas annually for tuning it.  

  He married Mary Eatwell in 1756, and shortly afterwards set up a music shop in Blake Street, selling a wide range of goods and services, but not apparently yet making instruments himself.  

  The first of his instruments that we know about , after repairing the organ in Leeds Parish church in 1760, is a new organ for St Mary's church Scarborough in 1762  His earliest known plucked stringed keyboard instrument is a spinet from 1764, and his first recorded harpsichord was dated 1772.  

  Like most of his contemporaries, he turned to piano-making in the last quarter of the eighteenth-century, and at least 20 instruments survive, dated from 1772 to 1794.  He died in 1796.



  His pianos are basically similar to the London instruments, but have a character of their own.  Certainly they are at least as good as the London pianos, and are beutifully-made and decorated.

  The example that came to Chelveston is dated 1787, and carries the number 209 in several places.  As well as being exceptionally pretty, it has a beautiful sound as we heard, and is a delight to play.

  Thanks to Peter and Mary Berg for bringing this fine instrument.  They also have a Haxby spinet, which came to Chelveston last year, and is the instrument used on one of the very few spinet recordings available (see the Friends Recordings page).

UK Ivory Sales Ban Announced

The long-awaited ban on the sale of ivory in the UK was announced on  3rd April.  This is amongst the toughest in the world, and will prohibit all sales with certain narrow exemptions.  


Importantly for us, the sale of musical instruments made before 1975 and containing less than 25% ivory will be allowed.  This beautiful Hitchcock spinet will therefore be safe.


The ban affects all sales and trade,including exports. 


We should be aware that there is no exemption for the use of old, reclaimed ivory on new-build instruments. Even if we can prove that the ivory is old, the ban still applies if the instrument was made after 1975.


Please see the Ivory Page for more details.

Opening of the Carolina Music Museum 

Tuesday March 27th

It is encouraging to report that the Carolina Music Museum formally opened on Tuesday March 27th.  We wish the museum every success for the future, and I know that all Friends who are able will be sure to visit and take part in the events.  The museum has a splendid website which is now active  



Anne Acker has written a comprehensive review of the Museum:




It's well worth reading!


Important Events in 2018



Opening of the New Finchcocks in Tunbridge Wells



Sale of the Colt Collection


We are hoping to arrange a special Preview Party for Friends of Square Pianos.

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..

Print Print | Sitemap
© David Hackett