Broadwood 1835

Because of the requirements for different string-lengths, the design of a square piano is necessarily lopsided.  But a piano is an item of furniture as well as a musical instrument, and furniture-designers usually prefer a symmetrical appearance.  One of the most attractive ways of achieving this was Broadwood's 'cylinder front'.  This piano is number 46423, which dates it to 1835 - the earliest example I have seen.

The cylinder opens neatly to reveal the usual six-octave keyboard, with a single fretwork panel at the right.  

Inside, we see that the piano has been carefully restored at some time in the past.   ~The soundboard is an early example of the type which extends over the keys and action.

I just love that swirly enamel on the iron string-plate!  That, and the bar, help towards tuning stability, partly because the plate extends over the soundboard and near to the bridge, thus giving a short 'over-length' of non-speaking string.

 

The stringing pattern continues the scheme used in the mid and late 1820s, with the first seven notes having close-covered strings (single rather than double now) and then a section of brass.  We also see in this picture that this piano retains the divided bridge; this gives a longer scaling for the iron strings.  Iron is both lighter and stronger than brass, so the first iron strings can be nearer to optimum tension.

For some reason whoever restored the piano used only one string for the top five notes, but I cannot see any reason why this could not be put right.  Other points that need attention are a leg-thread that needs to be repaired, and one hammer and one damper that need to be adjusted.  Otherwise, all the notes play, and this is a fine-looking and unusual piano.

 

The price is £1,000 o.n.o.  Please contact the owner, Robert Howarth rob.howarth@talktalk.net

 

The piano is in south Oxfordshire, near Wallingford.

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© David Hackett