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. Broadwood square pianos were made through to the 1860s. Their other piano production including grands and uprights continued, the business undergoing several permutations and surviving 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 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 792 appears on the treble side of the top key of the main keyframe, and the signature Palmer 54792 appears on the top key of the additional keyframe. 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.
Each pair of tuning pins is identified by faded inked letters.
The six-octave keyboard has seventy-three notes, FF–f'''', on two keyframes. 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 ivories 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 preservation. The hammer heads change composition for the lowest iron strings. 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. The blackened tuning pins with holes are original. The total tension on the instrument is estimated to be 5000kg. 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 panels of the lid, their side and front edges beaded. The main lid is supported by one 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 from loud to soft: Fully open, or main lid closed. (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 instrument retains its original brasswork including hinges, 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 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. Two of the leg threads have been replaced at some time in the instrument’s past. The turned damper pedal leg is also original.
The piano was purchased in December 2017 from the widow of Dr Keith Okey. He had purchased it for his historic property “Denham Court” in 1983 from the late W.F. Bradshaw, eminent Sydney antique dealer of 96 Queen Street Woollahra. The piano had originally come from “Kirkham”, the family estate of NSW Surveyor-General John Joseph William Molesworth Oxley (1784–1828) near Camden.
|Inscription on the 1842 John Broadwood & Sons square pianoforte nameboard|
The instrument is not mentioned in Clinkscale’s Makers of the Piano 1820–1860 nor is known to appear in any other literature.
|Detail, black enameled plate, brace and hitchpin arrangement|
Outline of Work
|Original Instrument Collection|
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