Samuel Bury c. 1792

  Many of us remember Roy Knowles, who died recently in his 93rd year. In the early 1970s he worked on Broadwood pianos with Alastair Laurence, and shortly afterwards became a full-time restorer.


  Amongst other activities, he carried out the work on Broadwood square piano N° 8119, the subject of the excellent book 'Mrs Findlay's Broadwood Square Piano'  (Michael Hannon, 2015).


  Of all the pianos he worked on, he kept this one for himself.  

Samuel Bury was active from at least 1787 until the 1790s, at 113 Bishopsgate Within, amd probably other addresses.  

He filed an important patent for two innovations: 1) A device to raise the dampers by means of a board or rail, and 2) To create a 'harpsichord' effect with the insertion of bone or ivory over leather between the hammers and the strings (see Harding, 1933).  Of these, it is not quite clear what has survived on this piano.  The first idea is a good one, but if it refers to the arrangement at the back of the piano, with the slider and leaf-spring, then it is worthy of note that this detail may be seen in pianos by Houston, Bates, and others at the same period.  Perhaps with Bury's agreement?   The second idea (like so many others) is perhaps best just recorded as an historical note, but it is possible that vestiges remain.

Back to the piano itself, we see the nameboard and keyboard in excellent condition - this is a good-looking piano.

  As found by Roy, this piano was in need of substantial restoration, which he carried out down to structural level.  We may therefore be confident that it has a secure future.  It now has a single handstop and a pedal, which could be updates to an earlier and less practical arrangement.  Photographic documentation of the restoration is available on request.


  I cannot be quite sure from the pictures, but I think that this piano may have the double (non-escapement) action introduced by Schoene.  This was not much used in England (where the Geib escapement action was preferred) but was used by Érard for a number of years.  I like it! Regulation and dynamic control are much better than the single action, and unlike the escapement action, the unbeatable repetition facility is retained.  



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© David Hackett