This handsome piano, number 2452, is equipped with Pape's patented down-striking action, which gives the advantage that the basic structure is not interrupted by gaps for the keyboard and action. Pape was also amongst the first to use felt instead of leather as the hammer-covering.
Johann Heinrich Pape was born in Sarstedt, near Hannover, in 1789. After spending some time in England, and then working with Ignaz Pleyel in Paris, founded his own firm in 1815.
Reminding us of the pianos of William Rolfe in England, this 6½-octave piano features a music-desk for another instrumentalist.
Queen Victoria owned a piano of the same model as this one (but more elaborately inlaid with ivory) which is still to be seen in her beloved Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.
Many squure pianos (and some grands) had a removable board covering the strings; these are often called 'dustboards', but this is obviouisly not their function - that is what the lid is for. On early Broadwoods, this part was completely plain, and made of thin soundboard-quality spruce. The difference they make to the tone is remarkable, and their purpose was clearly acoustic. Unfortunately, we have been unable to agree what to call them! Some say 'passive soundboards', which is accurate, but not inspiring. 'Schalldeckel' is another possibility. My favourite is 'Operimentum Canticorum', but this has few supporters.
Whatever, it is an unfortunate fact that these have very often been lost, and so it is a pleasant surprise to see this one still present (see picture above).
It was professionally restored about thirty years ago by a highly-respected piano technician in Paris, and is offered in playing order, tuned to A435.