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I am researching the history of my grandmothers piano. It was left to her by an elderly friend in 1929.
It was made by John Brinsmead & Sons, London, and has another label stating that it was
" manufactured expressly for Richard Gee, Central Charles St, Launceston". ( That is Launceston in Tasmania, Australia).
The story goes that it won second prize in a Paris show of some description on it's way out to Tasmania in about 1912.
So the questions I have are:
1. Where do you find the piano's number that I saw mentioned?
2. Does anybody know how long the Brinsmead's made pianos for the Tasmanian market (especially for Richard Gee)?
3. What sort of Shows were the pianos entered into ( assuming that the story has any degree of truth)?
The piano in question is made of rosewood (I think), and has a classical type picture set into it, behind where the music holder comes down to sit.
These also provide a guide to approximate date. I can't remember one from Paris after 1870, but there was some mention of them being in the Paris Exposition, 1889. The idea that pianos were "manufactured expressly" is covered at
It is unlikely that it was in any way specially made for Gee or Tasmania. You don't say whether this is an upright, or square piano, or grand, so this would affect where numbers might be found, but Brinsmeads' numbers are usually somewhere quite visible inside the top.
I found the number: 53083, and is an upright model.
Is there anyway to identify which year the piano was made, as opposed to a 10 year range?
I also found a catalogue (from after 1907), which details some of the available models. Do you know of there are any other ways to identify the model, as my grandmother's piano doesn't quite seem to fit the models described?
The upper part of the piano is similar to an X3, although it has a picture inserted into the middle section, between where candle holder side sections. The sides and feet are more similar to no. 27. It is said to be rosewood
- Colin Nicholson
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Brinsmead submitted their serial numbers every five years from the 1860s to the 1950s, few done annually after that.
A quick calculation will tell you just under 10,000 pianos were made in 5 years, so roughly estimated about 2,000 per year. If you add 2000 to each year (e.g. 47000 = 1901) .... suggests about 1904 for your piano.
There are different sets of numbers inside pianos such as cabinet/stock numbers, so it is never 100% reliable to assume you have found the actual serial number unless you send a photo of it. Serial numbers don't always give an exact year as the soundboard could have been stamped about a year before the piano was assembled.... then it sits on the shop floor for another year! Serial numbers are not like car registration numbers, and don't give the model name or type.... the number #53..... means your piano was the fifty third thousandth piano made in the production line, so the next number after yours could have been a grand piano.. but who knows what model/ size?
I tuned and refurbished the mechanism to a Brinsmead back in May - dated about 1897, and the serial number was on the soundboard lower region, inside the bottom panel where the pedal mechanism is housed.... not sure if they are all in the same place.
Bill may have more information about the model.
You may need to upload a photo or 2.
If you want to search inside the piano for clues, have a look at
For more details on the problems of relying on numbers, see
I might be able to tell you more if you could post photos here to show us what the whole piano looks like on the outside. Or you can email them to me to post.
Hopefully the photo of the piano has loaded.
I have found the number 53083 in two places: on the soundboard and the frame.
When I relooked at the catalogue, I found that the first model, style 14 was also in rosewood. I suspect that this piano is a modified version of this model.
If it was manufactured before 1907, this would also fit, as I have found that Richard Gee, the seller, retired from business in 1907.
Thanks for your help.
Hopefully this time you will have the right photo
Is the picture some kind of religious scene? It is probably held in place by a few little pins, so it should be possible to remove it and examine it, or at least on have a look on the inside.
It's a copy of a well known victorian print. I can't identify the one you show.
Perhaps they did a line in pictures rather than marquetry.
According to Greek mythology, Hector was killed by Achilles and the city was taken by the Greeks.
'Andromache' is also the subject and name of a tragedy by French classical playwright Jean Racine.
I believe the original is currently in the Manchester (UK) Art Gallery.
A link to the original picture:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andromach ... omache.jpg
"A foretaste of Summer" by George Logan.(qv on Google) A woman reclining on a punt with a parasol and two swans in attendance.Very beautiful
This is new to me. Are there any other examples of Brinsmeads putting actual pictures on the front panel?
It seems new to our fount of al knowledge ,Bill,too.
As you say, a very beautiful picture indeed.
http://static.artuk.org/w800h800/GL/GL_ ... 3_12_5.jpg
I hope Lynnedor and Vernon will not mind if I quote this on my Edwardian page? In spite of my hours of searching, it was NewAge who found the link
https://www.the-saleroom.com/en-gb/auct ... a700bcc852
I am still hoping to find that 1897 catalogue online, it seems to have disappeared.
I kept trying to correct my typing, until I worked out that the software here doesn't allow me to have double spaces at the end of sentences like normal writers.
It's a good job I'm not normal, otherwise I'd have to watch football and mess around with cars.
It was nice to see another piano that also has a print, and even better to find out the name of mine.
Any further suggestions about the brackets for the sconces? Do you think that they are original ( because it now seems that the print is), or added later?
If we now have two examples of Brinsmeads with prints then it is reasonable to assume they were feature of a line of Brinsmeads as no one would add them later just to Brinsmeads. Hein Moriarty?
I wonder if Ken Barry will get back to me about his? We might have another picture then.
The John Brinsmead & Sons Ltd catalogue from around 1915 is still available on line in a 46 page pdf format, which I'm sure you're aware of. Interesting enough the latter wasn't flagged up using the most popular big 'G' search engine, but 'DuckDuckGo' has proved to be quite successful.
I noticed on the 'Bay' there was an original Brinsmead Piano ad from The Graphic 1897 on offer.
And (somewhat off-topic), for general info, during the same search I unearthed an interesting book entitled, 'The Description & History of the Pianoforte & of the older stringed instruments', by A.J. Hipkins dated 1896 (price 2/6d)......This is a 160 page pdf file, which I can send you the link to if required.