Collard and Collard Upright, circa 1860

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Laffanpiano
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Collard and Collard Upright, circa 1860

Post by Laffanpiano » 26 Oct 2019, 12:14

Hi

By way of introduction, I am a technician working in Southern Ireland, and have come across a variation of this piano, which is in my workshop, and is quite intriguing:

http://hammerfluegel.info/coppermine15/ ... G_0753.JPG

I trained in Canada, so I'm familiar with C20th Steinways, and modern pianos, and although I tune a lot of English overdamers, I don't really work on them, not worth the time/money other than basic repairs/pinning etc. This Collard&Collard is quite pretty, and thinking about rebuilding it. Any literature on English pianos, and any restorers advice would be greatly appreciated.

The case and and keys are in good nick, but I'm just wondering where I might find specs for the action - hammer recovering v new hammers? Worth restringing? The action has these tall vertical sticks to which the flanges are attached with vellum, still very resilient, the springs have plenty of life yet. The sound is quite forte-piano like, tinny, don't know if strings and hammers will change that radically.

Thanks for your consideration
Michael Laffan

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Re: Collard and Collard Upright, circa 1860

Post by Bill Kibby » 27 Oct 2019, 12:32

Is that a picture of your piano, or someone else's?

I know they are not always worth the time & money, but at a time when some people are spending thousands of pounds moving antique pianos from one country to another, and spending a fortune restoring them, I am inundated with other people pleading with me to rescue their antique pianos from destruction when I can't even justify the transport costs.

I am surrounded by Victorian pianos, but I do not have any literature that I can recommend or restorers advice, try my website. I can't imagine what kind of specs you are hoping for.

If the sound is quite forte-piano like, tinny, the key thing is that it is not a modern piano, and you can't change it to become one, so either you have to accept it or get rid.

One way to preserve the appearance but have an acceptable instrument is to replace the innards with a digital piano.

I understand tall vertical sticks attached with vellum but surely they don't connect to flanges?
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Re: Collard and Collard Upright, circa 1860

Post by Laffanpiano » 30 Oct 2019, 21:46

Thanks for your reply Bill.

It is a picture of somebody else's, but the case, legs, castors, fall-board shape and length, and finish are very very similar, so I posted this as I thought it might be standard from that time that would be sufficient to identify it. I've since had a perusal of your site, and see that the history is much more complex, so I have a lot more research to do.eg...you are entirely correct that the sticker is not attached to a flange, just the base of the hammer.

I am not looking for a modern piano from this - there are already plenty of those around! I do like the forte piano sound, and thought a restoration/rebuild for a local institution/university might be good, as it is radically different to a modern piano, and should be kept as such. But as I have no experience, I might make a mess of it, so I am loathe to start- if you could point me to some experts that would be a good start!

Paul McNulty springs to mind, but perhaps someone in England? I saw some of his fortepianos at the PTG Convention in Arizona this year, and was quite impressed with the sound, not to mention the build quality. They are very different instruments indeed, and lovely for that.

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Re: Collard and Collard Upright, circa 1860

Post by Bill Kibby » 30 Oct 2019, 23:55

If you can send me photos, I may be able to tell you more, or spot clues to date etc.. Does it have rounded sharps?
I have no great amount of contact with restorers of antique pianos, they seem to live on a different planet to me, a fantasy world where people spend thousands of pounds moving these pianos from one country to another, and fixing them, then sell them for a profit!
Around East Anglia, the main options are to pay the council to remove them, or donate them to me (if I can justify the transport costs) or else it's a box of matches and a gallon of paraffin, so irreplaceable history goes up in smoke.
Although I have been tuning since 1963, and used to tuned pianos in museums, and I still work on my own collection of museum pieces, current regulations mean that I can't even volunteer to donate my time to museums! I would have to spend hundreds of pounds now to become an "approved" piano technician in order to work in other people's museums - even for free.
What kind of problem is a technician like you having with this Collard?
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Re: Collard and Collard Upright, circa 1860

Post by Laffanpiano » 31 Oct 2019, 09:40

I'm sure I could get most of the action to work fine, and replicate a few parts if needed, but if I was replacing strings and hammers they should be closer to what was available then...even recovering, and using original wood and felts, where to source vellum etc. There's a lot involved to make this historically more accurate, as you know.
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Re: Collard and Collard Upright, circa 1860

Post by Bill Kibby » 01 Nov 2019, 10:28

I meant to ask what numbers are in there. In particular, is there a scruffy handwritten number of about 5 or 6 digits written above a larger, clearer imprinted model number? My Numbers page gives some clues to Collard number dates, and describes them as one of the most difficult, so it's always nice if there are dates on the keys.
Mine is a collection of history rather than musical instruments, and with 50 pianos patiently queueing for attention, I can only do quick fixes, or keep an unusual instruments simply as a display piece.
My particular challenge is to try to keep to the actual original parts, and show jus how wonderful pianos are to survive so long.
This week, I worked on an amusing example from the 1850s which, once I got the keys moving freely, produced the most laughable tuning imaginable, and the pins are unlikely to hold, but I will do my best.
There are other tradespeople on this forum who may be able to help. I presume you have looked at Fletcher & Newman, and Dettmers?
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Re: Collard and Collard Upright, circa 1860

Post by Laffanpiano » 02 Nov 2019, 11:21

I haven't yet phoned Flethcers actually, although I must ring them for advice on this...I know they mainly supply for modern pianos. I have the oblong tuning tip on back order from them, so when I get that I can see what the pins are like.

But Dettmers I don't know about. Do you have some contact for him? I emailed Colin Nicholson, aapianos, so I'll see what he says when he gets back.

I know a restorer here in Ireland, Hollands of Carlow, and they have seen several of these Collard and Collards (actually just delivered one this week after a cursory overhaul), but apart from quick fixes, they don't like working on the action, tell me parts are hard to source, say it's a pain to work on, and mainly limit themselves to polishing the case for clients. As you say, the parts are excellently built, and work so well after 150 years considering it all.

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Re: Collard and Collard Upright, circa 1860

Post by Laffanpiano » 02 Nov 2019, 11:21

I'll look for serial numbers for you..

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