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 21st September

 

The Elephant in the Room

 

Clementi 1824 For Sale

 

Clementi 1829 Looking for New Home

 
Piano Auctions September Sale - Results

The Elephant in the Room

  Our thanks to Séan McIlroy of Piano Auctions Limited for the work he is doing on our behalf, and for the 'briefing' he gave to me on September 19th.  Any errors in what follows are entirely due my own misunderstanding - but I did my best to listen!

  The Ivory Bill is making its progress through the various readings and committee stages in Parliament.  We can be reasonably sure that our antique pianos and spinets will be amongst the 'permitted exemptions' from the ban on sales, and we can confirm that there is a firm proposal for a registration scheme for each item, which will be a legal requirement before it can be sold.   Applications for registration will be made on-line, there will be a fee, which could be £5 or £10.  

  The application will require assurance that the ivory which forms part of the instrument is legal for the purposes of the act (i.e. pre-1947 or 1975).  The age of a square piano more or less exactly is invariably beyond reasonable doubt and in any case so far before 1947 that there is no problem.  A further assertion that the keyboard ivory is original is again entirely credible.  

 

  We should note that once the item has been sold, the new owner should re-register it in anticipation of a re-sale at some time in the future, and it would be sensible to do this earlier rather than later, referring to the previous sucessful registration.

  The proposal would be manageable reasonable for most early keybord instruments. 

 

 

  A piece of  good news that I was not expecting was that the way would be open to achieve registration for amateur-built replica instruments, providing that we affirm the the ivory used is recycled from nineteenth-century instruments.  The issue of credibility would apply here, and it is obviously more likely that an amateur would use recycled key-covers (of which there is known to be a large quantity in circulation at low value) than go to the expense and risk of obtaining illegal ivory.  So perhaps there's hope for my Big Harpsichord yet!  (Ivory taken from a derelict two-manual Estey reed-organ).  Anyway, when the time comes, I can but try!

  As a consequence of all this, I think I would be unable to accept unregistered pianos for the Sale Page (even though I am not legally the seller nor agent) and it is unlikely that most sellers would be aware of the need to register before selling.  Certainly auction houses (including eBay) would be unable to accept unregistered pianos, but could (if worthwhile) assist owners to register them.

  We should remember that all this is entirely independent of the approaching departure of the UK from the EC.  After March 29th 2019, movement of pianos with ivory keyboards between UK an EC (and everywhere else, of course) will require CITES certificates. The fact that an instrument has been registered might be an advantage in obtaining CITES clearance, but it is not the same thing.  

 

  So if we have in mind any sales or purchases within the EC, or even within the UK, perhaps it might be simpler to act sooner rather than later?

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.

Clementi 1824 For Sale

Please see the Sale Page for details.  The plain trestle stand is not original, but this is reflected in a modest price.

Clementi 1829 Looking for New Home

No asking price as such  for this one, but the owner would appreciate a donation to the Macmillan cancer charity.  Please see the Sale Page for details.

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.

Piano Auctions September Sale and 

Meeting of Friends of Square Pianos 

Wednesday 19th September

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.

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