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Re: John Spencer & Co.

Postby Bill Kibby » 19 Nov 2009, 00:23

Plastics have been imitating ivory since the 1860s, and this being a cheap-ish piano, it would probably be artifical, but I can't guarantee it. Old ivory would have a join on each natural (white) covering, level with the fronts of the sharps (black notes). The heads and tails are separate pieces of ivory.
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Re: John Spencer & Co.

Postby davidu » 21 Nov 2009, 20:49

In that case the key coverings are definitely made of plastic, as there is no join. My Mum had told me the keys were made of ivory due to the age of the instrument. Good to know that no elephants died in the making of the piano. Thanks for your help. :)
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Re: John Spencer & Co.

Postby Bill Kibby » 21 Nov 2009, 21:45

I'm puzzled because I answered this when you enquired last week, but the answer has disappeared, so I presume you didn't see it. Plastics have been imitating ivory since the 1860s, and this being a fairly cheap piano, it is likely that the key coverings were synthetic, but I haven't seen it so I don't know. With old ivory keys, the ivory is in two parts, with a join between the head and tail, that is level with the fronts of the sharps (black notes). The grain seems a give-away too, but may be fake. Some Spencers have the worst ever synthetic covering - Galalith - which suffers badly from wear, and turns a greyish colour.
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Re: John Spencer & Co.

Postby davidu » 22 Nov 2009, 14:43

I don't know if you will find it of interest but here is a picture of the keys. There is no grain that I can can see:

Image

The instrument sounds very much as you would expect of a Victorian piano from the budget end of the market, although I daresay many of its faults - the 3/4 frame, the overdamper, the straight strings, the loose keys, the inability to tune to concert pitch - are common to instruments of the period.

A professional pianist who played on it many years ago was scathing in her criticism.
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Re: John Spencer & Co.

Postby Bill Kibby » 22 Nov 2009, 17:03

Sorry about the confusion, this is the only posting that I have ever seen spread to a second page, and I didn't work out what was happening! It's easy for tuners and pianists to be scathing, and list all the things that are not ideal about the piano, but many such instruments are still giving good service in front rooms all over the country, you can judge the popularity of Spencer by the huge number of postings here!
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Re: John Spencer & Co.

Postby Simon_Ash » 18 Dec 2009, 10:55

Hi There. I have just aquired a John Spencer upright piano, number is 43960, i was wondering if someone would be so kind as to date it for me :)

many thanks! :)
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Re: John Spencer & Co.

Postby Bill Kibby » 18 Dec 2009, 13:04

The number suggests 1904.
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Re: John Spencer & Co.

Postby Melilla » 20 Mar 2010, 21:59

Hello Mr Kibby

My goodness we piano owners seem to be keeping you busy! My friend and I have recently managed to avert the demise of my 'family piano' - she's providing a nice home in her house until I'm able to provide one myself! Anyhow, we were wondering if you might be able to date it for us, it's a John Spencer & Co, London with serial number 60647 - very much like the one with the wood inlay on page one of this message thread. It has marks where sconces once were, sadly missing now.

Any information would be much appreciated,

With thanks in advance
Best regards
Melanie.
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Re: John Spencer & Co.

Postby Bill Kibby » 22 Mar 2010, 10:57

The number suggests that it was made in 1912.
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Re: John Spencer & Co.

Postby Melilla » 22 Mar 2010, 14:17

Wow! Thank you so much for your reply.

Best wishes
Melanie
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Re: John Spencer & Co.

Postby courtneycoles27 » 02 Apr 2010, 18:05

Hi Bill could you please give me the year of this serial number 35570.

Thank you!
Last edited by courtneycoles27 on 04 Apr 2010, 09:38, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: John Spencer & Co.

Postby Bill Kibby » 02 Apr 2010, 18:20

The number suggests 1900.
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Re: SPENCER LONDON Piano

Postby Aethelwulf » 12 Apr 2010, 04:35

DSCF3313.JPG
Bill,

I also have an upright, Spencer piano; on the underside of the keyboard lid it has in brass letters, SPENCER LONDON and the serial number is 84740. If you would be able to date it for me, or tell me anything else about it, it would be much appreciated!

Please see the attached photos if it helps,

Kindest Regards,

Alex
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Re: John Spencer & Co.

Postby Bill Kibby » 12 Apr 2010, 10:48

There only seems to be one photo. The number suggests 1930, but there is no archive material for looking up individual Spencer pianos. Have a look at pianogen.org
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Re: John Spencer & Co.

Postby kerriceri » 16 Apr 2010, 13:39

just wondering if you can help me, due to lack of space i have to part with my beautiful piano, i have never played properly so really dont understand the mechanics or finer details about its make etc, and i dont want to get ripped of when i sell it by not knowing anything about it.
it has various inscriptions on it---john spencer & co london, murdoch murdoch & co corporation st birmingham, by special appointment to HRH the princess of wales melbourne 1888 prize medal edingburgh 1890 gold medal. the serial number is 56076. it is dark wood ? walnut with pretty paler wood marquetry in a flowers design. any info you could give me would be wonderful, i have phoned a few dealers already, they ask is it overstrung---i have no idea, and all appear to say it is too old!!! where do you part with a much loved piano these days????? help. thanks kerri
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Re: John Spencer & Co.

Postby Bill Kibby » 23 Apr 2010, 13:22

The number suggests that it was made in 1908. My feeling is that all Spencer pianos at that time (like most other London uprights) were straight-strung - with their strings roughly in parallel vertical lines. If it is overstrung, the bass strings will cross diagonally across the others, and the wooden blocks at either end of the keyboard would be noticeably different in width. Pianos of this style and period are extremely common in Britain, and not usually worth much, many are suffering the effects of old age.
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Re: John Spencer & Co.

Postby Jan Merkus » 14 May 2010, 19:47

Hello Bill,

We just bought a Crane & Sons and it just looks like a john Spencer.
Now we found two serial numbers in it one in the left corner 13301 and one on the right C&S 35976.
Can you tell us how old it is?

Greetings Jan (from The Netherlands)
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Re: John Spencer & Co.

Postby Bill Kibby » 14 May 2010, 22:52

The C&S stock number suggests that it was sold around 1903. Cranes didn't make the pianos, but there is nothing unusual about Spencer pianos, many other makers produced similar designs, and I have no evidence that Spencers made pianos for Cranes. The other number is no help in itself, because if it were a Spencer, it would be about 1889. By an amazing coincidence, we already know of the existence of that particular Spencer, in Australia. If you know how to remove the action safely (the working parts of the notes) it may be marked with the action makers' name and number, and we may be able to date this.
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Re: John Spencer & Co.

Postby Saxa » 20 May 2010, 11:10

Hi there,

You were very kind to asnwer queries on pianos. I have recently purchased John Spencer & CO piano on ebay for £0.99 in full working order. Its out of tune. The serial number states 59301. Would you know how old it is? Also what is the approximate prices those pianos sell for. I'm not looking to sell as I bought it to start playing. I think old instruments have soul and still loads of life in them.

Many Thanks

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Re: John Spencer & Co.

Postby Bill Kibby » 20 May 2010, 11:17

The number suggests that it was made in 1913, just before the war, and that looks about right. Some much better pianos have gone for 99p on Ebay, but I agree with you. Sadly, most antique pianos are not "worth" the £50 to tune them, yet we have pianos going back to the 1840s that still have a lot to offer.
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Re: John Spencer & Co.

Postby Saxa » 20 May 2010, 11:28

Thank you Bill,

I hope to use is for a bit :) As a beginner I really didnt want to spend a lot of money on the instrument since I'm not sure if I continue to play. Overall I would not mind spending money on tuning, restoration.

I do play violin as well so hope to be successful.

Do you think the antique pianos are good to use at home just for entertainment?
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Re: John Spencer & Co.

Postby Yampiedog » 21 May 2010, 09:01

I have been without a piano for several years until I was kindly given this one. It's a John Spencer upright and the serial number is 62976.

Some of the keys stick but I am giving it an air as it has been kept in a garage for a while and may just be due to dampness.

Even though my musical ear is far from being the best I still think it sounds like it is in good tune.

I now understand that they were fairly cheap English piano makers but I am still curious as to it's age...
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Re: John Spencer & Co.

Postby Bill Kibby » 22 May 2010, 20:38

The number suggests that it was made in 1912.
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Re John Spencer & Co.

Postby PatchAllen » 09 Jun 2011, 09:09

Hi, my husband and I live in Tasmania, Australia. We have just been given a lovely old, but sadly very much neglected John Spencer & Co upright piano. On the plate above the keys it is called The Peerless Piano. Inside the top on the right hand side is engraved John Spencer & Coy Ltd, under which appears the numbers 5941, and then under this is 2B. We notice from your website you often give approximate ages of these pianos. Is the information we have given enough to allow you to estimate a date?

Our plan is to work on it over time and restore it to a playable condition, enlisting the help of a piano tuner to carry out the final tweaking.

Hope you can help :D
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Re: John Spencer & Co.

Postby Bill Kibby » 09 Jun 2011, 23:32

If they are ivory, they will have a join running level with the fronts of the black notes, but Spencers were fairly cheap pianos, and plastics had been around since the 1860s. Ivory also has a grain.
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Re: John Spencer & Co.

Postby Bill Kibby » 10 Jun 2011, 19:38

I am sorry, I did answer you, but my posting disappeared into the ether. Spencer pianos were fairly cheap, but if it has ivory, you will be able to see joins level with the fronts of the black notes. Ivory also has a grain. Plastics had already been around since the 1860s, or another choice is the worst ever key covering, called Galaith, which wears terribly, and tends to go a greyish colour.
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Re: Re John Spencer & Co.

Postby PatchAllen » 15 Jun 2011, 08:42

PatchAllen wrote:Hi, my husband and I live in Tasmania, Australia. We have just been given a lovely old, but sadly very much neglected John Spencer & Co upright piano. On the plate above the keys it is called The Peerless Piano. Inside the top on the right hand side is engraved John Spencer & Coy Ltd, under which appears the numbers 5941, and then under this is 2B. We notice from your website you often give approximate ages of these pianos. Is the information we have given enough to allow you to estimate a date?

Our plan is to work on it over time and restore it to a playable condition, enlisting the help of a piano tuner to carry out the final tweaking.

Hope you can help :D


PS I received notification that you had replied to my posting above, but can't seem to find the reply. Hopefully you can point me in the right direction?
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Re: John Spencer & Co.

Postby Deadherring » 08 Dec 2011, 04:11

HI,
Just given an old spencer I live in new zealand and have this reseat that came with it the number is 33376, what doest that mean in terms of valuation, was tuned recently and the tuner said it was in mint condition
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Re: John Spencer & Co.

Postby Bill Kibby » 09 Dec 2011, 18:27

You'd have to ask your NZ tuner, a 1900 Spencer is worth very little over here. "Mint condition" suggests that it is original and unrestored, which is bad news to value.

On a separate enquiry from PatchAllen, I am sorry that people keep adding new postings instead of starting new ones, and in the course of splitting these endless Spencer postings, the system has lost some items. I have no control over that. The number 5941 might put your piano somewhere near 1886, but the published information doesn't provide an accurate date. I f you could post photos of the whole piano, or email them to me, I may be able to get a better idea.
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Re: For SPENCER, press NEW TOPIC

Postby EJsImagin8ion4 » 01 Apr 2012, 23:34

I just purchased a lovely Spencer, serial # 22754. Can you please advise on its year of manufacture?

Thanks,
Elizabeth
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Re: For SPENCER, press NEW TOPIC

Postby Bill Kibby » 02 Apr 2012, 16:59

That would be about 1894.
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