Broadwood bought at an auction

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badhuis
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Broadwood bought at an auction

Post by badhuis » 01 Jul 2016, 15:58

No - not Ebay. A local second hand shop holds an auction once a year where the things are sold that they think are more valuable than the other stuff they sell.
So I visited with my wife the auction and we both much liked the old piano there - great woodwork, nice details, a good old British firm and it seemed in a pretty good condition. We were the only bidders so we bought it for peanuts. Not sure why because we both do not play!
Plan are to have it looked after by a local piano restorer/tuner and depending on what he says, have it tuned and take lessons!

I am a fan of mechanical things (own a coupe of classic cars and have a good sorted workshop) and a piano is very much a mechanical thing.
Looking at the details it seems a good quality item. I had no idea about its age - guessed it would be a few decades at least but after going through Bills really excellent website today for hours (!) I think it might be as old as the turn of the (previous) century but what do I know?
What I do know I have not found a similar piano anywhere on the internet, but of course that does not say much.

Please have a look at the pictures and maybe someone can better guess the build date? As said it looks to be in a pretty good condition, to my eyes. Most things are original although I see a couple of replacements here and there. As for the sound - all keys "work" but even I can tell it needs a thorough tune up. Am a bit scared reading that old pianos may even be scrap as they cannot be tuned when they have not been in tune for a long period of time?

On the from there are the marks of, I presume, two fittings for candles or something. Would be nice where to get these but of course I would like to know how they would have looked.

On the leftmost key a number is stamped, this number is also on the horizontal wooden bar - I hope you can see it in the pics. The number is 67750.
On the iron there is a handwritten number 1373 which is repeated on the vertical wood panel next to it.
Maybe these numbers will help in dating the instrument?

Thanks for taking the time to read my post and looking at the pics.
Dion Fluttert
The Netherlands
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badhuis
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Re: Broadwood bought at an auction

Post by badhuis » 01 Jul 2016, 17:16

More pictures
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Bill Kibby
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Re: Broadwood bought at an auction

Post by Bill Kibby » 01 Jul 2016, 17:51

The serial number 67750 suggests that it was made around 1888. If you want to search inside it for clues, have a look at
http://www.pianohistory.info/datemarks.html

For general information on Victorian upright pianos, including some brief notes on Broadwoods of this period, see
http://www.pianohistory.info/victorian.html

In many ways, it resembles the Edwardian style, as shown at
http://www.pianohistory.info/edwardian.html
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Re: Broadwood bought at an auction

Post by Johnkie » 01 Jul 2016, 18:41

I would be very loathed to recommend buying this unless your intention is to have it as a piece of furniture rather than a serviceable instrument. While it looks reasonably attractive it does flag up a few issues that would cause me to have serious doubts about its viability.
1. It has oblong tuning pins - not many modern day tuners would even attempt to tune it.
2. The tuning pins may be binding on the cast frame - could be slipping and therefore not able to hold a tuning.
3. The pedals are totally wrong - Originals were most likely wooden and these replacements make me wonder whether someone has merely tried to make it look younger without making any changes other than purely cosmetic.
4. Its modern day value is £0

Best wishes - John
Concert Tuner & Technician for 45+ years - North East UK

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Bill Kibby
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Re: Broadwood bought at an auction

Post by Bill Kibby » 01 Jul 2016, 18:50

Again, I have to ask why anyone wants to come onto a PIANO HISTORY page if they are not interested in PIANO HISTORY? If we are going to scrap everything in the world that does not conform to modern specifications, there will be no history, and no museums. Every day, people around the world contact me in search of historical information about pianos.

Among the pianos I have tuned since 1963, there is a far higher proportion of untuneable ones from the 1900s than from the 1800s, and some of these old Broadwoods have better planks than some of the 1960s.

The fact that the pins are oblong is irrelevant.

If value was only about money I would put £30 as a more likely figure.

What's all this rubbish about pins binding on the frame?

The pedals are not wrong, it was quite common for Broadwoods to use metal pedal feet by the 1880s, especially in their Pianino-style models.
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Re: Broadwood bought at an auction

Post by badhuis » 02 Jul 2016, 11:47

As said I have already bought the piano and the pics are showing it in my living room.
Very happy with it, it is a very nice piece of furniture. Not sure if I will keep it if it cannot be restored as an instrument.
There is a local tuner which also has restored several old pianos. I will ask him to have a thorough look and will ask him to give his honest opinion. If it can be tuned for a few hundred euros, then fine he will get the job. If it will be more into thousands I might have a rethink about it. If I think I might keep the piano for years to come then I have no problem investing more money in it.

I like the piano as an instrument, but do not care for them as furniture if they are bland. This one is not in my opinion, I like the way I got it and it suits my living room. I never knew anything about pianos but my interest has awakened so to say (Bills site is very interesting), and I feel this is an instrument worth looking into.
I do not care much if it is worth next to nothing on the market, I also got it for next to nothing.
I have cars which never have been worth a lot (Hillman Imp which I have owned for years and which I love), also have cars which are worth something but worth does not mean much to me.

Keep up the good work here on this forum, there are always people like me who does not know a thing about old pianos but are very willing to learn.

Dion

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Re: Broadwood bought at an auction

Post by Johnkie » 03 Jul 2016, 12:19

Bill Kibby wrote:Again, I have to ask why anyone wants to come onto a PIANO HISTORY page if they are not interested in PIANO HISTORY? If we are going to scrap everything in the world that does not conform to modern specifications, there will be no history, and no museums. Every day, people around the world contact me in search of historical information about pianos.

Among the pianos I have tuned since 1963, there is a far higher proportion of untuneable ones from the 1900s than from the 1800s, and some of these old Broadwoods have better planks than some of the 1960s.

The fact that the pins are oblong is irrelevant.

If value was only about money I would put £30 as a more likely figure.

What's all this rubbish about pins binding on the frame?

The pedals are not wrong, it was quite common for Broadwoods to use metal pedal feet by the 1880s, especially in their Pianino-style models.
Now just hang on a minute ...

Oblong pins irrelevant - not if you want to find a tuner that will tune them - I sometimes do but many wouldn't.

Wrest pins binding on the iron frame "rubbish" - Bechstein uprights, Waddington, Bremar to name but a few often won't hold a tuning unless their frames are bored and bushed.

Pedals not wrong ? maybe .. but I've never seen a correct pair of pedals showing so much mild steel instead of the brass capping, and the cut outs look to me as though they're wide enough to have had original wooden pedals.

My intention was to offer advice to someone, not to get unjustly savaged by a moderator !
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Colin Nicholson
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Re: Broadwood bought at an auction

Post by Colin Nicholson » 04 Jul 2016, 13:25

Welcome to the forum badhuis,

A very attractive looking piano and will stand proud in any home.
The brass candlesticks (sconces) missing will be difficult to replicate exactly for the period, but I believe here on the forum shop, they sell them....

https://www.piano-tuners.org/piano-acce ... r-158.html

(A tuning customer of mine has a 1907 Bechstein upright with missing sconces, and 6 years later, he is still looking for the right ones!)

You have mentioned a few times about the plausibility of the tuning aspect, and whether you think it can be restored or not.... so after the history lesson, we often quickly move on to the future.... and MONEY! .... that's the bottom line really - costs. In my opinion the pedal caps do not look correct, as Johnkie mentioned, far too much ironmongery showing, and unevenly "glued"? .... if done properly, they should be silver-soldered/ braised to the wrought iron. The pedal caps look rather after-market.... that's just my view. The pedals look too far apart/ ungainly for the period, and (again, my opinion).... would fit much better with wooden pedals and front brass domes so they meet closer together. The pedal trap mechanism inside (by removing the bottom panel) may reveal a whole host of things, and some possible DIY.

The aspect of the oblong tuning pins is not a huge issue, but of course, if the piano tuner you choose to ring up does not have an oblong lever (preferably the ratchet design), and you don't inform him/her beforehand, they may just charge a call-out fee and walk away for obvious reasons.... so best to mention your piano has oblong pins.... mostly obsolete now, but I occasionally have to blow the dust off my oblong lever.

Re tuning: ...... sadly, this piano may be beyond a normal "top coat" piano tuning, and some prep work may be needed aswell to treat the rusty and corroded strings, which may have adhesions to the tuning pins.... if not treated, many strings may snap. (Feel free to click on my website/ scroll to "Pre-tuning" for more info).

Bass strings have to be sent away to be pattern made by a string maker, but your tuner should have a good selection of steel wire for the treble strings if needed. If the mechanism is not safe to remove (i.e. broken tapes/ springs supporting the undercarriages).... if a multiple of parts collapse.... it's game over for the tuning, and the mechanism will need to be taken away for a refurbishment. A common example is ringing on dampers, poorly spaced hammer/ or hammers striking the wrong strings! .... and the usual sticking parts/ slow returning hammers & jacks.
The tuning procedure is different to the normal day-to-day playing of the piano.

As an example, I attempted to tune a John Brinsmead last month (over-damped), and after warning the lady about the tapes breaking.... guess what? .... yes, about 70% of them ker-plunked and swung aimlessly - so the mechanism needed to be taken away. Other things like hammer refacing, re-pinning, new balance leathers and tapes/ 2-3 visits etc.... and after spending nearly £700.00.... the piano was eventually tuned.... but a few loose (ish) pins/ DIY repairs - someone had replaced a looped wire, and hitched it around the wrong hitch pin, and left the correct hitch just blank!! .... so there are additional costs for undoing bodge jobs/ ivory glued on with superglue (CA glue) all wrong, and many other things.
A re-string would cost about £1.5K - £2K alone, excluding mechanism work/ carriage/ tuning & regulation.

This is just to put you in the picture for what may be ahead of you.... many old pianos are still restoreable, and it's good to save them (the lady wanted to give her FREE piano a second chance in life).... so everything will come with a cost, and old pianos with intentions for refurbishment & tuning, well.... it may be a money pit, so I hope you have deep pockets. I always say.... there is no such thing as a free/ £10/ £20 piano.... you'll possibly pay the price later.

It would be interesting to see a photo of the internal mechanism (front fascia panel & fallboard removed) - and we may be able to advise you further. I hope this helps..

Colin
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Re: Broadwood bought at an auction

Post by NewAge » 05 Jul 2016, 20:06

My very first reaction on seeing the photos, was "there's something very wrong with those pedals and/or lower kick-board.
Knowing that Broadwood was a very reputable name and generally known for their quality, I can't possibly believe that it came out of the factory like that. The pedal cut-out design for a start, shows clearance to march a family of rats through and the Pied Piper, and if this was on the blueprint, the engineer who designed that needs to be plagued by 'em.
Apart from that, assuming the piano can be tuned satisfactorily without too many changes of strings incurring excessive costs, it could be an interesting topic of conversation at dinner parties, and as an instrument to play.
I was playing the piano in a zoo, when the elephant burst into tears. I said, "Don't you recognize the tune?" He replied, "No, I recognize the ivories!"

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Re: Broadwood bought at an auction

Post by Bill Kibby » 06 Jul 2016, 09:30

Although Broadwoods did often use metal pedals, it's fairly obvious from the photo that these are not the originals, more like 1910 style, and are fitted too far out, probably because they didn't fit. Metal pedals in a Broadwood of this age are usually curved inwards, and closer.

Most of the other points about value and condition can only be resolved by inspection and tuning on the spot - in the Netherlands.

The owner didn't ask to have his piano savaged either, this is a place where people who are interested in older pianos come for advice.
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Re: Broadwood bought at an auction

Post by badhuis » 16 Jul 2016, 10:50

Many thanks for all the interesting answers and opinions.
As said, I invited a piano tuner/restorer over to have a look and if possible start tuning it, and discuss any problems with me.
Well, he was here yesterday and I have to say it was a most interesting evening! He came at 4.30 pm and left at 9.45 , and only billed me for two hours....

One of his own pianos also is an old Broadwood, not sure what type or age. He said in his life of tuning pianos (nearing 30 years) he only has come across three or four pianos this old. He was happy to use his oblong pin tuning tool - only to find out he had years ago enlarged the shape slightly for a one off piano. Still, he managed to tune almost all pins. None were stuck, all could be tuned. He will come back, in a month with another oblong tuning tool he is sure hes somewhere in his workshop to finetune some of the most right hand placed pins as these were hard to tune with the side board so close by.
All strings are still good, although one string is missing. He will put in a new one next time which he said will detune faster than the other ones.
He advised to sand down the hammers a little to get a more even sound. This will be done next time - guessed this might take a day or so accomplish.

He was very straightforward, warned me not to expect a modern sound. He put a weight to the piano keys to see how much effort was needed to operate them, they are within limits. He was surprised by the good wooden soundboard (I think he called it that) and said it is possible to get a good, working instrument out of it. Maybe not for the modern pianist, you have to take into account the old mechanism and sound.
He said it looked to him the metal foot pedals are not original but replacement covers. They still work good though, he put a thin felt pad between the metal spring and the wood as some sound could be heard when operating one of the pedals (the right one I think).
In the future he said maybe the felts of the dampers, who touch the white leathers, should be replaced.

So all in all I am very pleased. I have a beautiful instrument which now after an initial tuning already can be used. I am glad I found a very friendly and knowledgeable tuner locally (lives 3 streets away!) who loves these old pianos and can advise and help me getting it better.

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Re: Broadwood bought at an auction

Post by vernon » 16 Jul 2016, 20:01

That sounds like an acceptable result
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Re: Broadwood bought at an auction

Post by Bill Kibby » 25 Jul 2016, 10:13

Indeed, and a triumph for piano history. Enjoy your antique piano!
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