Erard London Grand #6543 (1860)

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Colin Nicholson
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Erard London Grand #6543 (1860)

Post by Colin Nicholson » 09 Oct 2019, 01:57

Hi Bill / and guys....

It's been quite a while....!
Since moving up North, my feet haven't touched the ground.
On behalf of one of my USA clients, I am asking if anyone has any snippets of history/ ownership/ provenance/ info etc about the above piano.
In May/June last year, my client was interested in buying an unrestored EL - the piano was situated near Sacile, Italy (not far from the Fazioli factory). I went to Italy to assess it in June 2018, and apart from a few small damper problems, it was good to restore. In August, it was shipped to my place. This is (an almost) concert grand, 8ft 2', straight-strung, with brace bars, under-damped. Wood is a beautiful "Plum" walnut. The resto was completed in March 2019 - a few problems with the re-export/ import ivory permits (CITES) which were sorted. The piano was shipped from my place in April, taking nearly FOUR months to reach Houston, Texas.

The piano had to be craned through a 3rd floor window, and it was located on 29th July. I have recently returned from Houston to meet the client, and assist in setting up this remarkable instrument. Been a fantastic restoration and journey!

The A1 lever undercarriage is date stamped "1860" which seems to match the serial number #6543, and I understand that EL are limited compared to Erard Paris. This full restoration/ blog / journey has all be recorded on my website if anyone is interested.

After meeting the Italian owner back in June 2018, he told me that they had the piano for about 30 years, and bought it in London around 1988.... could have been from an auction, not sure, as his English was broken in places. Before 1988, we do not have information about the piano's whereabouts - nothing!
When the client received the piano, he managed to source the original newspaper from 7th February, 1861 which had front rail "punchings" under the keyboard.... the ones with newspaper writing on them were kept, and have been mounted. This is also on my website.

If anyone has any information about this or similar EL grands; their movements/ whereabouts, I would be grateful for anything at all.
Many thanks,
Colin Nicholson
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Re: Erard London Grand #6543 (1860)

Post by Bill Kibby » 09 Oct 2019, 11:09

The number date corresponds to the information on my Numbers page, but I have no record of this piano's past owners.
Are you based in Morpeth or Houston? I am amazed that, in a time when people are pleading with me to rescue antique pianos from destruction, and I can't even justify the transport costs, someone considers it worth moving this one to Italy, then to Texas, AND arranging full restoration. What sort of price will it have to sell for, in order to be worth doing?
I just wonder if there is a glimmer of hope that money could be raised to support and improve the Piano History Centre by selling some pianos.
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Re: Erard London Grand #6543 (1860)

Post by chrisw » 09 Oct 2019, 11:35

Thanks for giving us a very impressive account of the restoration on your website. To say that have made a first class job doesn't seem to do it justice. The other interesting point (at least to me) is that we are now approaching the two hundredth anniversary of Beethoven's "Moonlight" sonata, a piece of music which was only about sixty years old when the piano was built.
Last edited by chrisw on 09 Oct 2019, 11:39, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Erard London Grand #6543 (1860)

Post by Bill Kibby » 09 Oct 2019, 11:39

I think the arithmetic went wrong somewhere. 60 minus 19 is 41.
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Re: Erard London Grand #6543 (1860)

Post by chrisw » 09 Oct 2019, 11:42

I am assuming the sonata was written in 1801 (this might not be totally accurate). Therefore 59 years before the piano (i.e about 60). My mistake was to say we are approaching the 200th anniversary, without thinking about it too much , and not the 220th anniversary.

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Re: Erard London Grand #6543 (1860)

Post by Colin Nicholson » 09 Oct 2019, 13:16

Thanks for your replies.
I live 14 miles north of Morpeth in the harbour fishing town Amble, right next to the coast. On the map, it is NE65 (about 10 miles south of Alnwick), and used to be named "Amble-by-the-sea", but I believe from some locals, the "by the sea" was dropped due to signage costs. Not to be confused for Ambleside, which is in the Lake District. I am actually born & bred from Morpeth, where I lived during school years until 1989, then moved to Yorkshire until 2017.

Shortly to extend my workshop further.
I only visited Houston to mainly meet my client/ set up.

I realise that there is no info on this exact instrument, dated 1860, but wondered if there was any kind of lead to other EL pianos, similar to this one. My client only wanted this piano for personal pleasure (not for resale or commercial use), he paid for the piano direct with the Italian "owner" before restoration, and he also paid for the shipping separate, from Italy to UK, then UK to USA.... I didn't get involved with the shipping or purchase costs - between the client & seller only. My client first saw the piano through a USA-based website called "1stdibs" first, then later we realised the piano was in Italy, not USA. I believe it was "love at first sight".... and the restoration costs were totally separate to other costs.

Might have gone off the beaten track here, but thanks anyway for your info. Not sure what this post has to do with Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata? This piece was chosen as an example only to hear the original tones of the piano strings. At this stage of the assessment (and finale), the chronological age of the piano with the music period chosen wasn't important.... just a "reflection" of its general sound. My friend (Ed) who came to Italy with me - just for some company and support, he did the short video, not having much experience, and did a good job, despite him not getting paid to attend the assessment. Without Ed, the video would not have existed.

Yes, I believe the shipping & restoration costs alone would outweigh the value of this instrument, but my client seems very happy with the whole scenario. Would he buy another?? .... not sure! However, it stands very close to his Steinway grand. I believe he will pass the instrument onto his daughter later on in life.
When the piano was moved to Italy, back in 1988 ish, I asked the original Italian owner several questions about history, but he couldn't speak English, so the piano was passed onto his Italian friend (who sort of became the owner, selling it on his behalf), as he had some experience in selling/ buying antique instruments and owning his own antique store in Sacile. Quite a lot to take in!


Thanks.
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Colin Nicholson Dip. Mus. CMIT CLCM PTLLS
Piano tuning & repairs. Full UK restoration service
http://www.aatuners.com
Tuition ~ Accompaniment ~ Weddings
http://www.pianotime1964.com
Member of The Guild of Master Craftsmen

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Re: Erard London Grand #6543 (1860)

Post by Bill Kibby » 10 Oct 2019, 16:06

Do these help? I still can't get control of the attachments with this new software.
1854? Erard London grand action #3,445 - I drew this from the actual parts some years ago, and although the principle is much the same as Tomlinson's diagram, the details and proportions are quite different, so his may have been an old diagram in 1853.
1865 # 8767 Grand at National Trust Nostell Priory, marked with date and number.
1866 # 9276 Lotherton Hall, Bevan-designed, Marsh & Jones-casebuilt grand, guidebook info.
1866 #9,700 #9772 Erard, London grand (Finchcocks).
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Colin Nicholson
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Re: Erard London Grand #6543 (1860)

Post by Colin Nicholson » 14 Oct 2019, 09:16

Thanks, yes this undercarriage looks very similar to #6543 above.
I'll try to attach the image of A1 lever, which has the date stamped on the inclined section next to the damper spoon. There is also a name "Royer" on the lever? and the letter D.

Your drawing is pretty accurate, which shows also the roller being smaller than other grands - the ones on #6543 are 9mm diameter.
The rear flange is also like a box flange, inserted in the middle of the lever and tiny leather washers inside each side to reduce friction.
I'll let my client know, thanks.
Attachments
005.jpg
AA Piano Tuners UK

Colin Nicholson Dip. Mus. CMIT CLCM PTLLS
Piano tuning & repairs. Full UK restoration service
http://www.aatuners.com
Tuition ~ Accompaniment ~ Weddings
http://www.pianotime1964.com
Member of The Guild of Master Craftsmen

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