Sarah Garth Wicking Piano

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Sarah Garth Wicking Piano

Post by piano » 22 Jan 2015, 21:05

Hi! We have an ornate glass fall front upright piano which was patented by S Garth Wicking of 190 Walworth Road SE and 261 High St Boro. It was inherited by my mother-in-law sometime before 1950. We believe it was made for an exhibition. Does anybody know about her?

Regards

Kathy
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Bill Kibby
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Re: Sarah Garth Wicking Piano

Post by Bill Kibby » 22 Jan 2015, 22:14

Somebody enquired a long time ago, and quoted the name as Wickering, I am assuming that you have checked the spelling, Wicking seems a more likely name.

I have bits and pieces of references to various members of the Wicking family being in the piano trade, including Benjamin, William, (who was probably his son) and William's widow. It will take some time to edit and digest it all and decide what connection (if any) these have with Sarah. Does her name appear on the piano?

Is there any other information on the piano, apart from these addresses? Above all, what stuns the novice is the incredible standard of decorative work that was normal and everyday for the piano trade a century ago. Inlaid work, marquetry, or even the cheaper incised decorations can be quite impressive until you have seen hundreds of them, so although you describe it as "ornate", to me it is just an ordinary Edwardian or late Victorian upright, apart from the glass fall. My guess is around 1902. See
http://www.pianohistory.info/edwardian.html

If you want to look inside it for clues, have a look at
http://www.pianohistory.info/datemarks.html
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Re: Sarah Garth Wicking Piano

Post by Bill Kibby » 23 Jan 2015, 21:40

By 1840, Benjamin Wicking & Son (William) were in business as pianoforte makers. In the 1850s, William Wicking was in business separately as a pianoforte maker or dealer at 190 Walworth Road, and right up the 1880s, when he seems to have died. Mrs Sarah Garth Wicking carried on with the business, and selling music and instruments, until at least 1914. She also had a patent for pianos in 1893, perhaps the same one that you referred to.

The details of the patent are available online to anyone who wants to pay.

To me, it doesn't seem different enough to be an exhibition piece.
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Re: Sarah Garth Wicking Piano

Post by piano » 25 Jan 2015, 22:12

There is a glass plate above the keys - photo 4 - which has Sarah's name and address on. Photo 5 shows the mother-of-pearl inlay more closely. Have sent off for a copy of the patent.
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Re: Sarah Garth Wicking Piano

Post by NewAge » 27 Jan 2015, 11:56

Bill, I was a little surprised to see you describe this piano as, "just an ordinary Edwardian or late Victorian upright, apart from the glass fall."

We had what was certainly just an 'ordinary' Edwardian upright piano at home - with sconces but no additional ornamentation.
The piano as shown by the OP appears to have mother of pearl inlaid top panel, which although not unusual in itself, I would certainly describe as 'ornate' as opposed to plain or 'ordinary'.

Just for info, a quick search on the name of the piano appears to imply that a paperback was published in 1893 with the title 'Improvements In Pianos & Other Keyboard Musical Instruments' - the authors given as Nightingale David William (76 Peckham Rye) & Sarah Garth Wicking (190 Walworth Rd Surrey). Are you familiar with this, or would this be some reference to patent archives.
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Re: Sarah Garth Wicking Piano

Post by Bill Kibby » 27 Jan 2015, 12:43

I know that the paperwork exists, but I have no details or copies. Sadly, the Piano History Centre is still fighting for funding or sponsorship to house the collection in a proper museum building, and achieve its potential.

Decorative work such as marquetry and inlaid work is impressive to people who have never seen it before, but when you've seen hundreds of them, they are less impressive. Yes, this is a good example of marquetry, but it's only a centre panel, which were turned out in vast quantities then. Exhibition pieces were often more elaborate, much more ornate over a much larger area.
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Re: Sarah Garth Wicking Piano

Post by piano » 27 Jan 2015, 19:36

We have obtained a copy of the patent 'Improvements In Pianos & Other Keyboard Musical Instruments' - the authors given as Nightingale David William (76 Peckham Rye) & Sarah Garth Wicking (190 Walworth Rd Surrey). The patent granted was for the glass fall front, a mirror placed at an angle as to reflect light on to the keys and open fretwork beneath the keyboard. Keys (ivory) therefore always exposed to air and light in order to present a clean and white appearance.

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Re: Sarah Garth Wicking Piano

Post by Bill Kibby » 31 Jan 2015, 16:15

I'm sorry I couldn't offer you the details, there are so many more urgent calls on the limited funds of the Piano History Centre.

I haven't come across D.W.Nightingale anywhere so far.

It is widely agreed that daylight is the best way of keeping ivory white, and the originals would probably have been bleached by exposure to sunlight. This invention provided the ideal compromise between letting the light get to the ivory, but not letting the dust in.

Unfortunately, exposing pianos to direct sunlight has disastrous consequences, as explained at
http://www.pianohistory.info/central.html
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Re: Sarah Garth Wicking Piano

Post by Colin Nicholson » 01 Feb 2015, 10:39

NewAge wrote:Bill, I was a little surprised to see you describe this piano as, "just an ordinary Edwardian or late Victorian upright, apart from the glass fall."

.
I certainly agree with you there NewAge. Except for the (perhaps) strange looking 'museum purpose' fallboard and Perspex key rail, the piano looks very ornate indeed to me also. I think we need to remember & acknowledge that although some people on this forum are experts in this field.... and "worn the T-shirt" .... afterall, this is a general piano forum for all to enquire, see other posts - and we don't often see nice looking pianos like this. This may also give a new member the impression that one is much "higher ranked" or pompous in the piano industry? ...... certainly by just saying "ordinary" sends out unnecessary signals.... even if we have seen it all (yes, I've tuned gold-leaf cherubs hanging from a Steinway model B with pastorale scenery inlaid.... but no need to mention it here!!). Just my opinion.... and certainly not the "run of the mill" piano we get on this forum. :D
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Re: Sarah Garth Wicking Piano

Post by piano » 01 Feb 2015, 20:30

It's a minor point, but the key rail won't be Perspex as that plastic material was not invented until 1934 and the piano was made around 1900. Given the glass fall, it is reasonable to suppose that Sarah would have used mirrored glass for the key rail as stated in the patent.

Kathy

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Re: Sarah Garth Wicking Piano

Post by d.honey » 19 Feb 2015, 21:15

Sarah Garth Wicking was a relative (quite some way back) of mine. She had shops at both 261/263 Borough High Street and at 190 Walworth Road. The patents relating to your piano were taken out in 1893/1894 - so the piano is probably dated 1895 - 1905. I had one just like it but was told that it wasn't of any value so unforunately it was brocken up! It might have some interest to one of my neices, in which case can I ask if you still have it, or like me have you got rid of it?

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Re: Sarah Garth Wicking Piano

Post by Bill Kibby » 23 Feb 2015, 11:11

Thanks, that's very interesting. Do you suppose they made many like this, or just two?
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Re: Sarah Garth Wicking Piano

Post by piano » 23 Feb 2015, 11:44

Hi

In an email sent to us d.honey told us:

According to a conversation I remember having with my late mother indicated
that only three of this type of piano were ever made. She also mentioned
the fact that one of the three were displayed at an exhibition probably at
Brighton Pavilion. Two of the piano's went to members of the family, and
one went to an unknown person living in Bath when Sarah Garth Wicking died
in 1925. You may well have the very last piano linked to the two patents.
You seem to have the No 2811 dated 1893, the other which is far less
interesting is No 24,538 also dated 1893. I also have no idea who David
Nightingale was . However, I was told by the patents office that there are
numerous patents taken out by Sarah at around the same period relating to
various inventions. I suspect that Sarah being a very prudent business
woman bought other people's inventions and then registered them in the hope
of making a profit.

Need to look into how my mother-in-law inherited the piano - just know it was from an aunt.

Kathy

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Re: Sarah Garth Wicking Piano

Post by d.honey » 23 Feb 2015, 20:35

As I originally explained the mechanism for the piano was massed produced, but the casing was made according to the traders wishes. From my knowledge Sarah Garth Wicking only produced three of the type shown in the photos. (She also sold several plain black pianos.) However, since this piano does show the glass fall as per her patent and also demonstrates the use of the second patent where the third pedal is used to open the lid when playing forte, I would presume the piano must be of some value. I am not a piano expert. I only see it from the family history aspect.

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