Broadwood & Sons grand piano "by special appointment to the queen"...where is the serial number?

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Broadwood & Sons grand piano "by special appointment to the queen"...where is the serial number?

Post by elizjaye » 30 Jan 2018, 04:47

Hello Kind UK Piano Fellows,
I am the executor of my brothers estate that includes a grand piano that I need help identifying so I can figure out what to do with it. I fear I could easily be taken advantage of folks who "just want to take it off my hands."

The fallboard reads: Broadwood and Sons London (very fancy hand lettering) and below that in a gold outlined box "By special appointment to the Queen James Smith & Sons 76, 74 & 72 Lord Street Liverpool" and to the far right in another fancy box "Supplied by L.S. Marshall Oak Street Oswestry" Inside to piano on the left by the strings I see some numbers and words that look etched into the wood:
W.J 20641
James Smith & Son
70 Lord Street

The compass is A to A. 85 keys. It's about 4 1/2 feet wide and around 7 feet long but I'm not sure which points to measure it from so that may not be 100% accurate.

Can you spot the serial number in any of this and maybe the year it was made? Any info will be appreciated by this sister who just inherited this lovely piano.
With appreciation, Elizabeth

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Re: Broadwood & Sons grand piano "by special order to the queen"...where is the serial number?

Post by Bill Kibby » 05 Feb 2018, 20:23

Firstly, this individual piano has no connection with the queen, it is simply that the company has a royal appointment. Colman's mustard is "by royal appointment" but that doesn't mean her majesty has tasted every jar. The transfer is actually about Smith's royal appointment. Here in the UK, unrestored antique pianos are difficult to sell, and have very little value. Grands are also harder to sell. In spite of what people may tell you, 85 notes is normal for old pianos.

My immediate reaction was that 20641 is clearly the serial number, but my Numbers page
explains that dating pianos purely on the basis of numbers is not always as simple as it seems. In this instance, we could just say the number dates it at 1817, and get very excited because it's the same year as Beethoven's Broadwood, but this piano is nowhere near as early as that. Their different models had different numbers at different times, quite apart from the fact that most pianos have several numbers inside. Look especially at any removal wooden parts such as the music desk, and see if they have the last 3 digits of the number imprinted on them anywhere. Numbers close to 20641 were also used around 1858. Interestingly, the only one I can ever recall seeing with this particular style of fancy name lettering was a later fake name on a genuine Broadwood, but this one looks original. Broadwoods may be able to help you, but they will charge a fee, and you still need to search for any other numbers, or confirmations of the one we see. Look underneath. The numbers preceded by letters are usually stock numbers for dealers.

I will think about this, and have a better look at the photos. Smith & Son would be after about 1880, so unlikely to be the original supplier.
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