Square piano?

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Misty
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Square piano?

Post by Misty » 09 Jul 2003, 23:08

Hi, I was recently on vacation and rented a house in France. I was surprised to find that what looked like a table had hinges on the top. When I opened it up, it was a piano keyboard. When I completely opened it up, I noticed that the strings are horizontal to the ground but run left to right. What kind of piano is this and how old could it be? I took pictures of it, but I don't have them to post right now. Thanks for your help. I'm so incredibly curious. Misty

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Bill Kibby
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Square piano?

Post by Bill Kibby » 10 Jul 2003, 09:57

I presume that what you are describing is a "Square Piano", actually shaped like a rectangular table with a keyboard let into the longer side. We are familiar nowadays with upright and grand pianos, but in victorian times, there were also square pianos made in vast quantities, popular with buyers because of their small size, although this was their worst drawback in terms of tonal quality. Square pianos were made from at least the 1750s to the 1880s. Most people, coming upon a square for the first time, are totally captivated by it, and yearn to own it, although mechanically, they are long past their best! Can you tell me anything more about it, such as names, addresses, numbers inside, etc.?
Last edited by Bill Kibby on 20 Nov 2006, 14:51, edited 1 time in total.
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Misty
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So that's a "square" piano

Post by Misty » 10 Jul 2003, 16:04

Hi Bill,
Thanks for your quick response. And you were right on the mark concerning my reaction to it. I would have packed it in my suitcase if I could have. But I began to wonder about the tonal quality last night after I read the history of the piano on this website.

I took some pictures with my digital camera and I looked at them this morning to see if I could get any more information. The label over the keyboard said "John Broadwood and Sons" and an address in London that I couldn't read very well on the small screen. I also remember the label saying something about being makers for "Their majesties, the King and Queen and the Princesses". I didn't see a date on the label and I didn't know to look for it on the inside.

I think it's interesting that even with being involved in music my whole life, I've never seen one of these square pianos before but apparently they were quite popular. Perhaps many have been destroyed or continue to live only as side tables?

Thanks!
Misty

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Post by Misty » 10 Jul 2003, 16:12

Well, this certainly is an informative website. I just looked at the history of John Broadwood and it looks like this piano has to be from somewhere between 1840 (when they shipped their first piano to the new King and Queen) and 1866 (when they stopped making squares).

I can't believe the owner left a 150 year old antique just sitting in a rental house for people to set their drinks on while playing snooker. Is it of any significant value?

Thanks,
Misty

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Bill Kibby
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Broadwood square

Post by Bill Kibby » 11 Jul 2003, 01:06

I'd have to check, but I thought they made squares later than that. However, I don't follow the point about 1840, they were making them long before then, and supplied royalty in the 1700s. It would be interesting to see the photos, if you could email any to my address.
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Post by Barrie Heaton » 11 Jul 2003, 08:43

Misty wrote: I can't believe the owner left a 150 year old antique just sitting in a rental house for people to set their drinks on while playing snooker. Is it of any significant value?
Not really I must have about 5 on my round in different states of working order, unless it has a pedigree and in very good condition. Most go for about 50 to 400 quid at auction However, in the US they do seem to go for quite a lot more but like most things if you a few folk who want it at an auction then the price will go up. In the UK most help to celebrate the 5th of November.

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