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
The company was Middleton, Copley in 1850-6
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
To R.L. Anderton, Piano & Music Seller, 105, Highes Bridge Street, Bolton
From E.L. Guslow, Nightingale Workshops, EH7, Hormsey Road, London. N.
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
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.
- Colin Nicholson
- Executive Poster
- Posts: 1836
- Joined: 04 Jul 2010, 19:15
- Location: Morpeth, Northumberland
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
Thank you very much for your time, assistance, knowledge and passion.
(Following as an ariticle about John Fawcett of Bolton)
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Wishing you a wonderful day.