Please remember that, as with 'Pianos for Sale', I have not usually seen these pianos, and any comments I make may be based entirely on information supplied by the auctioneers, or what we can see from the pictures.
Pianos at the Auction of T W Gaze,
Diss, Norfolk on Friday 13th January
Our Tomkison experts are able to date this piano (number 3989) to c. 1815, in the middle of the Regency period; Thomas Tomkison was piano maker to the Prince Regent (the future George IV).
In a picture of this piano that I saw a little while ago, the pedal was present. I will check with the auctioneer to make sure it's still there.
At this time (and earlier) Tomkison was using finely-engraved printed labels, which are sadly easily damaged, and in this case lost. However, if is possible to find a suitable 'Prince of Wales' label, there are ways of making a convincing copy.
Hammer Price £270
There was also six-octavet 'cabinet' piano by John Broadwood & Sons.
This one has also suffered some wear to its parchment nameplate, but it's possible that Friends of Square Pianos might be ableto find an appropriate replacement. Against an estimate of £500 - £1,000 this item was not listed as sold.
Not really a square piano, but it's in the same sale! Broadwood grand number 433628, c. 1895.
Estimate £400 - £600. Not listed as sold.
All pictures by T W Gaze.
Piano Auctions Sale Thursday December 15th, and Meeting of Friends of Square Pianos Wednesday December 14th
We enjoyed our traditional gathering of Friends of Square pianos on Wednesday 14th December, the viewing day before the sale, when eight or nine of us enjoyed a chat, coffee, and lunch at the pub. Oh, yes, and we enjoyed looking at the pianos as well.
Special thanks to Hatice Gunes, of the Park Cafe in Red Lion Square, who remembers us and looks forward to our visits.
Our friend Luke Bradley has just moved into a flat quite near to Holborn, and he very kindly invited all of us to accompany him to his new home for aftenoon tea.
Amongst the pianos, the higlight for us was the Beyer.
This example dates from 1779, and it is an encouraging sign that it was restored by Andrew Lancaster some years ago. The estimate for this one was £1,500 - £2,000, and after brisk bidding it was sold for a hammer-price of £3,300 - just over £4,000 including costs.
Then there was a clavichord by Thomas Goff and Joseph Cobby, made in 1934. The quality of Cobby's cabinet-making is in a league of its own. It was situated next to a magnificent eight-octave Bösendorfer Imperial Grand, but even so we were able (just about) to hear its gentle voice.
The estimate for this one was £800 - £1.200, and it just made the lower figure. For the quality of the woodwork alone, surely these instruments are under-valued?
For some unexplained reason - unknown to the auctioneers - the Hodsdon virginal failed to put in an appearance. (The owners were supposed to bring it to Conway Hall).
Then finally a five-octave de Blaise harpsichord in a mahogany case.
These instruments are not fashionable these days, but they are well-made and reliable, and a good proposition for schools and amateur concerts, where a more delicate and valuable instrument might be vulnerable. This one did need some adjustment to the pedals, but there were no fiundamental problems that I could see. Against an estimate of£600 - £800, the hammer fell at just £320. We do not know if this bid was accepted or not, but these 'modern' harpsichords and spinets can offer a lot of fun for the money.
All pictures courtesy of Piano Auctions Ltd.
For full catgalogue see www.pianoauctions.co.uk
Specialist Musical Instrument Auction
Thursday 8th December
A nice-looking early nineteenth-century piano in Gardiner Houlgate's next auction, and a new name for me...
It's always good to learn something new, and this is the first piano that I have seen bearing the name 'Faveryear'. However, our friend Tim has discovered some references. This was surely Henry Faveryear, described as a musical instrument maker, but (like Longman & Broderip and others) really a dealer. A flute by him (with a Tower Hill address) survives, and he appears in Érard's ledger as a purchaser. He was apparently an agent for Clementi, but this does not look like a Clementi piano. He is reported to be in St Petersburg in 1803, but planning to return to London.
Everything seems to be in original condition - probably the damper-cover is missing.
There is a leaf-spring to hold down the 'shelf' which is presumably hinged to allow the dampers to be lifted, but there are no handstops, and no evidence of a pedal. The 'extra notes' arrangement of the top section of the 5½-octave compass, and the frets in the nameboard, do suggest a date just after 1800.
The estimate for this interesting (and unique?) piano was £600 - £1,000. The hammer fell some way short of this at £520