Original Instrument ReportCopyright © 2018 CBH
|Square pianoforte by John Broadwood and Sons, London 1842|
Scotsman John Broadwood (1732–1812) moved to London in September 1761 to apprentice with harpsichord maker Burkat Shudi. Marrying Shudi’s daughter in 1769, he became a partner in the business in 1770, and its effective head from 1771. Broadwood’s Journal first mentioned square piano sales in 1778. In 1795 he took his son James Shudi Broadwood into partnership, and the instruments from then were signed John Broadwood and Son. After his third son Thomas was brought into the business in 1808, the instruments were signed John Broadwood & Sons. In the early-1840s, their annual output of square pianos numbered about a thousand. While Broadwood ceased production of square pianos in 1866, their output of grands and uprights continued. The business underwent several permutations and survived until the 1990s.
Boalch, Donald H Makers of the Harpsichord & Clavichord 1440–1840 Third Edition, Oxford 1995, pp25,26
Clinkscale, Martha Novak Makers of the Piano 1700–1820 Oxford University Press, Oxford 1995, pp30–56
Clinkscale, Martha Novak Makers of the Piano Volume 2 1820–1860 Oxford University Press, Oxford 1999, pp47–61
Cole, Michael Broadwood Square Pianos Tatchley Books, Cheltenham 2005
Wainwright, David Broadwood by Appointment Quiller Press, London 1982
The nameboard insert is inscribed John Broadwood & Sons / Manufacturers to her Majesty / Great Pulteny Street, Golden Square / London. The faded ink serial number 54792 is found on the left rear corner of the wrestplank, and in pencil on the reverse of the nameboard and bass cheek, and reverse of the mahogany keyslip. There is a pencil signature Archer W behind the balance mortise on the upper surface of the bottom key, and the date 31/10/42 on the treble side of that key. The ink signature Palmer 54792 appears on the top key of the main keyframe, and the ink 792 appears on the treble side of the top key of the additional keyframe. The single initial M is found inked on the lowest (FF) mahogany damper lifter block. The initials C.A are stamped in the spine housing for the middle lid hinge. In pencil on the main keyframe treble stile is written B / Habelu [indistinct] / 54418. The gilt brass casters are stamped COPES / PATENT just below the rim of their cups, one interestingly misspelt COPPES.
Each pair of tuning pins is identified by faded inked letters on the wrestplank. There are other pencil markings on the wrestplank, probably dating from the time the iron strings were replaced.
The six-octave keyboard has seventy-three notes, FF–f'''', on two keyframes. The Stichmaß is 489mm. Each lime keylever is stamped with its number just behind the keycover. The numbering recommences from 1 on the additional keyframe, housing the keys from c♯'''–f''''. The keys are guided by front pins. The balance rail and front rail are oak and the backrail pine. The keyframe cloths are original. The ivory-covered naturals and solid ebony sharps are original. The unscored naturals have 45mm heads and 95mm tails. The ivory heads are about 1.4mm thick at their fronts, and the tails taper in thickness towards their rear to about 1mm. The moulded sycamore keyfronts and ivory covers make the natural heads about 19.5mm deep. The beveled solid ebony sharps are 10.5–11.75mm wide, 83.5–86mm in length, and taper in height from 10.8 at their fronts to 7.2mm. The ivory heads in the middle of the keyboard show slight dipping with wear.
|Treble action detail|
The action is the English double action with the usual dolly peg dampers raised by a pedal. The complete action is in an amazing state of cleanliness and preservation, retaining its original hammer coverings. The red and white layers of damper cloth are original and graduated: The covered strings have a thick white felt below the woven red cloth. This changes for notes 31–46 to a thinner brushed white flannel. Notes 47–55 have the single red cloth only, reduced at the extremity of the damping to project from only the treble side of the dolly pegs. The hammer heads change composition for the lowest iron strings (notes 12–18). The hopper blocks were capped with grey felt at some previous stage: Several of these felts on the additional keys were odd and obvious replacements.
The instrument retains its original single overspun strings with hitchpin loops for the lowest eleven notes FF–D♯. The remainder of the instrument was conservatively restrung at some stage. It is double strung in iron, with the strings running around hitchpins on the enameled iron plate: Only the covered bass strings have hitchpin loops. The hitchpins are of two diameters, and the quaint stringing arrangement can be seen on the picture below. One wire loops around the large diameter hitchpin to then return for the treblemost string of the next highest note. In the middle of this pair, another wire loops around the small diameter hitchpin, to also return for the bottom string of the next highest note. The scaling (c'') is 305mm. The blackened tuning pins with holes are original. The total tension on the instrument is estimated to be 5000kg, borne by the black enameled iron plate with brace to the wrestplank. The bridge had dropped, lowering the stringband in the bass and causing the bottom four or five notes to foul on the front corner of the soundboard apron.
The soundboard is spruce and both bridge and nut beech. The soundboard ribs are reinforced with gilded iron screws through the top surface of the soundboard. The same type of screws are used on the flat moulding strip at the perimeter of the soundboard apron.
The case rim is solid mahogany, as are the two lid panels, their side and front edges with egg-and-dart moulding. The case measures 1600mm x 685mm without bottom or corner mouldings. The lid overhangs the case by 13–22mm on all sides, and is supported by a single mahogany lid stick screwed to the treble case interior. The lid can also be supported by the collapsible hinged music desk attached to the back of the nameboard. The lid enables two possible playing positions: Fully open (loud), or main lid closed (soft). (Being hinged to the keyboard flap, the fallboard prevents the instrument from being played if the keyboard flap is closed.) When the main lid is closed, there is a collapsible music desk attached to the keyboard flap interior. The spine is finished. The bottom is painted a dusky pink. The instrument retains its original brasswork including hinges and iron screws. There is a lock on the fallboard, although its key was missing.
The three faces of the removable nameboard are veneered with rosewood. The nameboard has two fretwork panels with old crimson silk behind and a central recessed ink inscription.
|John Joseph William Molesworth Oxley (1784–1828)|
The piano rests on its original four plain turned legs with gilded brass casters. There is some usual case distortion noted: The front right leg is about 4mm above the ground. Two of the leg threads have been replaced at some time in the instrument’s past. The turned damper pedal leg is original.
According to the Broadwood archives [see below], the piano left Broadwood’s premises with nine others in January 1843 for shipment on the Fanny to Sydney dealer R Dacre, Esq.
The instrument was purchased in December 2017 from the widow of Dr Keith Okey. He had acquired it for his historic property “Denham Court” in June 1983 from the late W.F. Bradshaw, eminent Sydney antique dealer of 96 Queen Street, Woollahra. The 1842 Broadwood lived at “Kirkham”, the family estate near Camden of NSW Surveyor-General John Joseph William Molesworth Oxley (1784–1828). It was most likely to have been originally purchased from Dacre’s business by Oxley’s widow Emma née Norton (1798–1885) in 1845 on her return from three years in Europe with her two sons , John Norton Oxley (1824–1891) and Henry Molesworth Oxley (1826–1867). The piano remained in the Oxley family, Bill Bradshaw purchasing it from Eleanor Beatrice Martin Oxley, a great-granddaughter of Surveyor-General John Oxley.
From August 2018, the 1842 Broadwood is on long-term loan to Sydney Living Museums, and exhibited and played at Elizabeth Bay House.
|Inscription on the 1842 John Broadwood & Sons square pianoforte nameboard|
Broadwood archives (number book ref. 2185/JB/42/234, porters book ref. 2185/JB/42/34):
Monday 9 January 1843
Two 6½ Bicha [Bichorda] GPFs Patent nos. 15587, 15423
Two Semi GPFs Pat Improd [Patent Improved] nos. 680, 681
Two Semi Cott [Cottage] PFs Cylft [cylinder front ?] nos. 4973, 4905
Two Sq Pfs School Pold [polished] revolving scale and nulled nos. 54792, 54842, no extra charge
Two Sq PFs Pat Supr [Superior] nos. 54217, 54362,
all screwed, covers, full [sets of] strings, tin and deal cases to all, R Dacre, esq, Sydney, marked RBD no. 5 to 14, delivered at Farlows to ship per ‘Fanny’, shipping expenses £6.8.6, freight £22.15.6, insurance, £15.9.6
Australasian Chronicle (22 July 1843), 3: IMPORTS
The instrument is not mentioned in Clinkscale’s Makers of the Piano 1820–1860 nor is known to appear in any other literature.
JULY 20.— Fanny, barque, from London: 217 bars, 49 bundles iron, 6 sheets lead, 40 hogsheads beer, 4 casks oatmeal, 120 casks British goods, 8 bales linens, 18 cases copper, 3 casks copper nails, 10 cases pianofortes…
|Detail, black enameled plate, brace and hitchpin arrangement|
Outline of Work
|1842 Broadwood square in the Drawing Room at Elizabeth Bay House|
|Original Instrument Collection|
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