Middleton, Copley piano from Fawcett, Bolton

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Middleton, Copley piano from Fawcett, Bolton

Post by chereg » 22 Jan 2013, 17:03

Good Day, This is my first time on the UK Piano forum. I am presently selling a number of antiques for my mother. One of these is an antique piano. I am not in any way asking for a valuation, I just need some direction as to how to proceed. She purchased the piano over 40 years ago because she thought it was lovely. She never played. In researching the label on the piano, I have become stuck. Following is the label on the piano: Middleton, Copley & Co. For J. Fawcett, Bolton Lancashire. The lettering is in gold and appears to be original. I have found the manufacturer, which went bankrupt. One date for Middleton as manufacturer is 1865. I am the most intrigued by J. Fawcett, Bolton. In my research I have found several John Fawcett's, father and son both being shoemakers who were also composers of psalmody of the Baptist faith. Would a piano manufacturer put a person's name on the piano because the piano was specifically being made for them to give to them, or did they put composer's names on pianos to add to the piano's value? Can I ever determine whether this piano was ever in the possession of John Fawcett? Where do I go from here? Any suggestions would be most appreciated. The pianos' home is in the western state of Wyoming in the United States. Thank you in advance for you assistance. Chere

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Re: Composer's Name is on the piano?

Post by chereg » 22 Jan 2013, 22:02

Good Afternoon - I have included a photo of the label on the Middleton, Copley., & Co. Piano. Thanks for looking.
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Tag 159.JPG

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Re: Composer's Name is on the piano?

Post by Bill Kibby » 23 Jan 2013, 02:32

For a general picture about these kinds of name see
http://pianogen.org/names.html

The most likely explanation is that Fawvett was a retailer, and Middleton Copley made the piano to be sold by Fawcett. Without photos of the whole piano, I can't say much more.

There are several Victorian retailers named Fawcett on my lists, but I have no record of one in Bolton. Until I know the approximate date of the piano, I can't look further for the names. If it is an Edwardian piano, you may find useful clues at
http://pianogen.org/edwardian.html
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Re: Composer's Name is on the piano?

Post by chereg » 23 Jan 2013, 03:17

Good Evening Bill, Thank you so much for you prompt reply. I will post photos tomorrow of the piano and the information on another label I found within the piano. Prior to selling the piano, do you recommend my having the piano reconditioned or should I sell the piano as is? Hopefully my photos may help to clarify that decision. I have to tell you, I am fascinated with pianos now. Thank you again. Chere

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Re: Composer's Name is on the piano?

Post by Bill Kibby » 23 Jan 2013, 03:28

Clinkscale's information conflicts with the directories in my collection.
1850LondonMiddleton.jpg
The company was Middleton, Copley in 1850-6
1860LondonMiddleton.jpg
but just Joseph Middleton in 1860, so this suggests that your piano is pre-1860. I look forward to seeing it. I imagine there were lots of people named John Fawcett in Bolton, and it is not surprising that a music dealer might be a composer, but that does not have much to do with the piano if I am right. I should have directed you to
http://pianohistory.info/victorian.html
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Re: Composer's Name is on the piano?

Post by chereg » 23 Jan 2013, 21:57

piano 114.JPG
Top of piano
piano 094.JPG
Interior View
Tag 158.JPG
Exterior View
piano 068.JPG
Leg Detail
piano 106.JPG
Label
Good Afternoon Bill, Attached please find photos of the piano. I did not know how to locate the serial number, but I did find a shipping label that reads as follows:

To R.L. Anderton, Piano & Music Seller, 105, Highes Bridge Street, Bolton
From E.L. Guslow, Nightingale Workshops, EH7, Hormsey Road, London. N.

With Love
Carriage Forward
5-12-1905

Bill, what makes a piano historically significant? If that question is too broad, I apologize. I guess I just wanted John Fawcett, shoemaker and composer, to have created and played this piano. (Oh well. just my romanticism at work here) If I know the age, maker and condition of the instrument, I can then determine the best way to find a new home for this piano.

Thank you in advance for your knowledge and generous spirit. You are most appreciated. Chere

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Re: Composer's Name is on the piano?

Post by chereg » 23 Jan 2013, 22:09

piano 070.JPG
Front of Piano

Sorry Bill, Looks like I duplicated some of the photos. I have additional photos available. Thank you, Chere

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Re: Composer's Name is on the piano?

Post by Bill Kibby » 24 Jan 2013, 00:43

The 1905 label is interesting, but the piano is much earlier, probably lining up quite well with the dates around 1850 for Middleton, Copley & Co. The solid wood panel on the front, with inlaid design, is a much later addition, it probably had pierced fretwork and/or silk.

As to what makes a piano historically significant, if my time-line of piano history had a museum space, any piano would have a place there, and a role to play. History is not just about kings and queens.

I can't speak for the American market, but here in Britain, antique pianos have very little value unless they have been professionally restored, and I am offered several cottage pianos like this each year for nothing, just to save them from destruction.

If you delivered it to my door, people would think I was mad to offer you fifty pounds for it.
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Re: Composer's Name is on the piano?

Post by chereg » 24 Jan 2013, 00:54

Good Evening Bill, Thank you very much for your assistance. Hopefully I can find a home for this piano. Too bad I don't live near you, as I would be dropping off a gift at your door late tonight. Thanks again, Chere

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Re: Composer's Name is on the piano?

Post by Colin Nicholson » 24 Jan 2013, 09:52

Chere

I have watched this post with some interest, and although its a pretty looking piano with character, the photos suggest its not really a "musical instrument" any more. Many problems will lie with this piano now, including poor tuning stability, the odd broken/missing/ warped part etc.

I recently used to tune (and partly service) a very old 1900s upright piano - it was straight strung & over-damped.... the children tried desparately to learn on it. Most of the strings couldnt be tuned, and it sounded like a "cats chorus" because many of the strings had lost their harmonicity. The parents then eventually started looking for a better piano - because the eldest daughter was approaching GRADE 7 !!!! (bit late eh?).... anyway they settled on a Yamaha U3.... very nice piano. However, I warned them about their old piano - and almost condemned it (lik a gas boiler, but without the red tape!). OK.... then the mum said "oh, we need to find a good home for it" ...... I shuddered!! .... I said quite loudly.... "DON'T"!

Anyway, this piano was more or less "un-tuneable" - but because it had a pretty inlaid daffodil on the front panel, the Mum ignored my advice and sold it for about £150.

A few days later, I received a phone call from a very dis-heartened family; they had tried 3 previous tuners - all charged their fee and WALKED AWAY. Then she told me.... and I put 2+2 together. I went out to her house - and alas, THIS was the same piano that had been condemned. Firstly, the mum nearly broke down in tears, then the daughter DID.... as I had explained everything.

I think you get the picture....? Any child hoping to start learning the piano was dramatically dashed - their face changed from a pretty picture to a horror movie.

Please do me a favour Chere...... if you sell this anonymously (Ebay) ...... you should state its "spares & repairs" and needs ALOT of work. That might still not let the "penny drop" - but at least you have done the honourable thing. The family with the U3 are still a bit upset that the piano they sold, the new family cannot enjoy learning on that piano. Its part of life, but I suggest that very old 1860's pianos should just be looked at now with pride - but not played. I'll be quite blunt with you (but nice!) .... you wont be doing anyone any favours selling this "lovely looking box with strings and hammers" - who may intend to use it as a "piano" ? They will also be faced with many many bills - and this would cost several thousands to restore .... (and even no such thing as a FREE piano)


Hope that's helpful

Colin
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Re: Middleton, Copley piano from Fawcett, Bolton

Post by chereg » 24 Jan 2013, 18:14

Good Afternoon Colin, I too have children and a granddaughter and I would hate to raise up hopes in someone and then dash them dollars. I really became intrigued in the piano's history in the hopes that I could somehow link this piano to John Fawcett, the composer. This might ensure that someone would like to give this piano a new home because of its' history and not as an exceptional musical instrument. I promise you that the pianos' description will be very honest as to its' not being in any condition to be played and that it would need to be reconditioned, if that is possible. I am going to continue on, for a while, in my historical pursuit of this piano's history in the hopes that will enable me to find the piano a new home. Thank you, Chere

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Re: Middleton, Copley piano from Fawcett, Bolton

Post by Bill Kibby » 24 Jan 2013, 18:23

To me, this instrument is an interesting little piece of history, I just worry that when you say "John Fawcett the composer" it implies a degree of fame that I am not sure exists, although it is interesting that he may have died shortly after the piano was made. Unfortunately, even wikipedia disagrees with itself about the dates.
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Re: Middleton, Copley piano from Fawcett, Bolton

Post by chereg » 24 Jan 2013, 18:58

Good Day Bill, I would never link this piano to John Fawcett, of Bolton, shoemaker and composer, unless there was absolute proof of that connection. Which, I am sure, will be very difficult, if not impossible to prove, in the first place. I guess, I have been bit by the bug of wanting to try to find the history of this piano. Maybe, like me, its' old and getting nearer the end than the beginning and I don't want to just cast it away, because it cannot make beautiful music anymore. I don't want to let it go for parts. But Bill, let me ask you this, if John Fawcett of Bolton, the son, is respected and has some fame as a composer of Psalmody and if this piano was his, would that make the piano historically significant? Would someone want this piano because of that connection? Or, should I just give up my historical research and hope someone would like a pretty piece of furniture?

Thank you very much for your time, assistance, knowledge and passion.

Chere

(Following as an ariticle about John Fawcett of Bolton)
http://www.wgma.org.uk/Articles/Fawcett.htm

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Re: Middleton, Copley piano from Fawcett, Bolton

Post by Bill Kibby » 24 Jan 2013, 19:28

I am suffer from the same sort of bug, but mine has reached epidemic proportions! I don't mean to be a wet blanket, I love your enthusiasm, I would suggest pursuing local history in Bolton pre-1886, which is when my Bolton lists start. If I find anything else I will let you know. Richard Anderton doesn't seem to have been around until the 1900s, and Onslow is not on my radar yet, but then there is a huge amount on file here from the 1900s that just doesn't get typed up because of lack of funding.

It is intriguing that an 1854-ish London piano was sold in Bolton, then fitted with a label from London to Bolton half a century later.
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Re: Middleton, Copley piano from Fawcett, Bolton

Post by chereg » 24 Jan 2013, 19:43

Thank you Bill for your encouragement. I know it probably sounds a bit crazy to go to all of this work, but, I really love it.

Thank you again, Chere
Last edited by chereg on 27 Jan 2013, 22:44, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Middleton, Copley piano from Fawcett, Bolton

Post by Bill Kibby » 27 Jan 2013, 18:15

I've had a good look through my directory lists, copes of the original books that authors such as Harding and Clinkscale quote wrongly. To summarise briefly, Ralph Middleton was there in the 1830s, Robert Middleton in the 1840s, and Joseph Middleton from at least 1850-1870, but gone by 1875.

George Copley, pianoforte maker, does not appear in his own right, and was with Joseph from at least 1848 to 1856. I do not have lists for 1857 so far. By 1858, Copley's name is absent, so the mean date for the piano's name is circa 1853. My guess is 1849.

John Fawcett may well be THE composer, but he was a retailer, and would have had a quantity of transfers specially made showing that these pianos he sold were made "for John Fawcett, Bolton". See references to "Manufactured Expressly" at
http://pianohistory.info/names.html
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Re: Middleton, Copley piano from Fawcett, Bolton

Post by chereg » 27 Jan 2013, 18:53

Good Day Bill,
Thank you so very much for solving the mystery of the label on the piano and the approximate date of manufacture. I will now give up my search for a photo of John Fawcett of Bolton playing one of his compositions on this particular piano. ( I know, I don't want much!) It's going to be a bit sad letting John Fawcett of Bolton go....but!

I can understand why you have such a passion for the piano. When I advertise this piano for sale, would it be appropriate for me to mention that this might have been sold by John Fawcett of Bolton, shoemaker and composer of psalmody, and seller of pianos? Or not?

Thank you again for all of your help.

I hope you have a wonderful day.

Chere
Last edited by chereg on 27 Jan 2013, 22:46, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Middleton, Copley piano from Fawcett, Bolton

Post by Bill Kibby » 27 Jan 2013, 18:59

I think you have more information about Fawcett than I do, sadly we cannot cover every single town, and Bolton is mssing from our lists until 1886, when the only Fawcett was Abraham, in Cleckheaton, Yorkshire.
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Re: Middleton, Copley piano from Fawcett, Bolton

Post by anonymac » 13 Jun 2016, 19:12

I know this is an old post but I would like to both add to the thread and ask a favour.

John Fawcett (1786 to 1867) of Bolton, Professor of Music, Hymn composer for the Wesleyan Church and sometime shoemaker was my 3rd Great Grandfather. He moved to Bridge Street, Bolton in about 1825 where he set up a shoe shop but stopped shoemaking to concentrate on composing and teaching. He moved to Haworth Street in about 1862.

Slater's directory of 1843 cites his business as "Fawcett John & Son, professors of music and music sellers, 8 Bridge street, Little Bolton." As far as I know they did not sell musical instruments.

His major interest was the writing of hymns for the Wesleyan Church also in Bridge Street, Bolton - now a bingo hall.

I was interested to see the Upper Bridge Street address on the label although clearly the date on that label is far too late for John Fawcett to have seen or used the piano. I wonder if, perhaps, the name on that label was Fawcett's successor in business.

As for the favour, I would very much like to upload the two photographs (of the transfer and the label) to my family tree. Would that be alright please?

If you would like to have more information on John Fawcett or his family I would be happy to share what I know.

King regards

Glenn.

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Re: Middleton, Copley piano from Fawcett, Bolton

Post by Bill Kibby » 13 Jun 2016, 23:46

Thanks for the additional information, I would always enjoy having more information on piano firms, so you could email me.

Not everyone realises that if you see any picture on any website, you can right-click on it and, unless they have obstructive software, you can just save the picture. There is also the option of screen capture which copies your whole screen onto your clipboard, so that you can paste it into something like the Paint programme.

You don't need permission to do this, or for that matter print it and hang it on your wall, provided you are not making money from it.
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Re: Middleton, Copley piano from Fawcett, Bolton

Post by anonymac » 14 Jun 2016, 08:01

Hi Bill,

Nice to hear from you and thanks for the advice. I am familiar with the process of copying images (although others may not be) but felt it right to ask permission to do so. I'll make sure Chere's name is kept with the photographs and add a link to this post.

I'll also dig out a timeline for John Fawcett and send it to you offline.

BTW - I'd love to know what happened to the piano.

Glenn.

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Re: Middleton, Copley piano from Fawcett, Bolton

Post by chereg » 17 Jul 2016, 20:30

Good Afternoon Bill, I was quite excited to receive further information regarding John Fawcett and the Middleton Copley Piano. Thank you Glenn for sharing your familial connection to this piano. I still have the piano safely stored and at some point I would like to find a new home for this lovely instrument. I would appreciate any further information in regards to your family history. It is wonderful to know that you have a connection to this instrument. I only wish I knew how this piano ended up in Nebraska. I believe my mother purchased it in Nebraska some forty years ago. At one point, Bill, you had indicated that a photo of this piano might be included in a book. If that book is available for purchase, I would love to purchase a copy. I hope this text finds you well Bill, you were most helpful in providing me with a plethora of knowledge. Thank you again for all of your help and Glenn, the piano will be safely stored until I can find a way to provide a new home for this instrument. Chere

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Re: Middleton, Copley piano from Fawcett, Bolton

Post by chereg » 17 Jul 2016, 20:34

Glenn, Please also feel free to use any of the photos I provided of the piano.

Chere

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Re: Middleton, Copley piano from Fawcett, Bolton

Post by Bill Kibby » 17 Jul 2016, 21:27

I have been through my previous postings on this subject, and at the same time brought the links up to date with my new website. I can't find any suggestion that a picture would be in a book.
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Re: Middleton, Copley piano from Fawcett, Bolton

Post by chereg » 18 Jul 2016, 18:17

Good Afternoon Bill, Glenn had indicated he could provide a timeline for John Fawcett. I know you are incredibly busy, but if Glenn provided the timeline, I would be most appreciative if it would be possible for me to receive the timeline. Thank you again for all of your help.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

Chere

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Re: Middleton, Copley piano from Fawcett, Bolton

Post by Bill Kibby » 18 Jul 2016, 19:19

There is too much to post here, and a lot of it means very little to me, but if you email and can send it to you.
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