John Spencer & Co., London

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githoms
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John Spencer & Co., London

Post by githoms » 20 Mar 2012, 04:11

Hello everyone, it's wonderful to browse through this forum and see what a wealth of information you provide. I have an upright John Spencer & Co piano with the serial number 59346. Can you tell me anything about this piano, like year and place of manufacture? Many thanks, Gina.

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Re: John Spencer & Co Serial Number Query

Post by Bill Kibby » 20 Mar 2012, 12:22

The number suggests that your piano was made in 1913, but without photos, I can't say if this is likely, most pianos have several numbers inside.

It will have come from the Spencer factory at Goodinge Road, London N.

Although I have hundreds of surviving Spencer pianos listed on my files, no archives survive to tell us any more about individual pianos.

There are a great many Spencer postings on this forum, some have photos that you can use for comparison.
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Re: John Spencer & Co Serial Number Query

Post by githoms » 25 Mar 2012, 04:10

Thanks very much for your reply Bill, I'll look through the photos as suggested.

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Re: John Spencer & Co Serial Number Query

Post by vernon » 25 Mar 2012, 21:18

Bill
You say you have" thousands of surviving Spencers on your files"
I assume you don't want us to report every piano we visit? That seems an impossible task.
I'd be pleased to do it tho' if you wish.
Our mission in life is to tune customers--not pianos.

Any fool can make a piano-- it needs a tuner to put the music in it

www.lochnesspianos.co.uk

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Re: John Spencer & Co Serial Number Query

Post by Bill Kibby » 25 Mar 2012, 21:35

I said hundreds, not thousands. I used to write detailed specifications for every piano I tuned, they form a large and tremendously useful database for historical research, but I am more choosy about what I file nowadays, and with so many Bords and Spencers on file, I don't have any urgent need for more, but any information on the more unusual pianos is always useful to add the Piano History Centre files. Especially useful is any information on an instrument that can be reliably dated. I try to avoid the Royal "we" on this forum, because this is a different "we".

Of course, this is not train-spotting, and what we don't need is entries that say no more than is written on the front of the piano, the idea is to be able to tell people something they don't know already. Our most urgent need at the moment is to find funding or sponsorship to display this unique collection permanently. In order to get a bigger building, we need funding. In order to get funding, we need charitable status. In order to register as a charity, we need an income of five thousand pounds per annum for the project. If we had that, we probably wouldn't need funding!

The government would like people like me to give up working on the project, and volunteer to be a full-time unpaid community organiser, then I can be responsible for my own funding. Can anyone see a flaw in this idea?
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Re: John Spencer & Co Serial Number Query

Post by svetlio75 » 04 Apr 2012, 13:54

Hi! I'm interested of the specification and the year of John Spencer upright number 65547. Thanks in advance

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Re: John Spencer & Co Serial Number Query

Post by Bill Kibby » 07 Apr 2012, 11:17

The number suggests that your piano was made in 1914, but we have no way of knowing the specification, we haven't seen your piano. Can you post some photos here, or email them to me? Ideally, views of the whole piano, unobscured by dogs, stools, vases etc., and as many interior views as you can manage above and below keyboard. This link may help...
http://www.piano-tuners.org/piano-forum ... f=2&t=8859
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Re: John Spencer & Co., London

Post by mabru » 02 Aug 2012, 16:21

Hello! i'm from Venezuela, and I am really interested of the specification and the year of John Spencer upright number 66755. Many thanks!

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Re: John Spencer & Co., London

Post by Bill Kibby » 03 Aug 2012, 18:03

You have already asked me about this piano, the number suggests 1916, but I can't tell you anything else, no archives survive, and although the Piano History Centre has the largest store of Spencer information, it is limited.
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Re: John Spencer & Co., London

Post by Darylindj » 08 Nov 2012, 12:33

Hi Bill I would love to know the age of my upright John Spencer & co. Piano. its serial number is 30059. Any help would be greatly appreciated thank you :)

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Re: John Spencer & Co., London

Post by Bill Kibby » 11 Nov 2012, 19:55

The published dates for Spencer numbers are misleading, as you can read at
http://pianohistory.info/numbers.html
and the best estimate I can give is 1898 for this number. Without photos, I can't say if this is likely to be correct, most pianos have several numbers inside, although Spencer's can usually be seen just by opening the top.
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Re: John Spencer & Co., London

Post by alexconnor7 » 21 Dec 2014, 21:46

Hi, my John Spencer piano number is 67429 - are you able to tell me anything about this?

I wonder if you could advise me as to where I can acquire the correct replacement parts for this piano as well?

Many thanks!

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Re: John Spencer & Co., London

Post by Bill Kibby » 22 Dec 2014, 14:05

The number suggests that your piano was made in 1916. Parts are not available to buy ready-made, they would have to be made specially, but your tuner is the best person to advise you about this.
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Re: John Spencer & Co., London

Post by Suerussell » 07 Jan 2015, 12:59

Hello

Would love to know more about our John Spenser piano .
The serial number is 1b 32204

Many thanks

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Re: John Spencer & Co., London

Post by Bill Kibby » 07 Jan 2015, 23:57

The number suggests that your piano was made in 1899, but numbers can be deceptive.

Are you able to post photos of the whole piano here, or email them to me to post?

For more clues, have a look at my Edwardian page at
http://www.pianohistory.info/
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Re: John Spencer & Co., London

Post by GBronkhorst » 07 Mar 2015, 22:52

Hi Everyone, its nice to read through all the posts. I have a Spencer London Piano. On the inside on the steel frame it says John Spencer & Co. London. The Serial number I've found on the inside of the piano is 32731. Could you please tell me what year this piano was made?

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Re: John Spencer & Co., London

Post by Bill Kibby » 08 Mar 2015, 12:54

That number suggests 1899, technically Victorian, but there is general information at
http://www.pianohistory.info/edwardian.html

If you want to search for further clues inside the piano, have a look at
http://www.pianohistory.info/datemarks.html
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Re: John Spencer & Co., London

Post by kristine kreislere23 » 04 Apr 2015, 21:20

i have a John Spencer & co London piano, i was hoping you could tell me the year it was made serial no 51845,thank you.

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Re: John Spencer & Co., London

Post by Bill Kibby » 04 Apr 2015, 23:11

The number suggests that it was made in 1912, but although Spencer numbers are usually clear and simple, some have more than one number. Is there any chance you could post some photos here to show what the whole piano looks like on the outside, or email them to me to post?

See also
http://www.pianohistory.info/edwardian.html
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Re: John Spencer & Co., London

Post by sbohannon » 23 May 2015, 04:56

I have a John Spencer piano. The number I located is 12667. I am curious to the possible age of this model. I really appreciate your assistance. Very kind to respond to all of these requests. see photo https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-nz6J ... sp=sharing

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Re: John Spencer & Co., London

Post by Bill Kibby » 23 May 2015, 12:03

The number suggests that your piano was made in 1889, and this seems a reasonable date, judging by the photo.
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Re: John Spencer & Co., London

Post by Carenray » 25 May 2015, 07:21

Thank you all so much for the wealth of information. I would like to try to date my Spencer piano. I don't understand how to read the serial number. It appears to be only four digits, but there is a single digit above the four digit number. The four digit number is 3967, and there is a 3 above that number. Any ideas? I've attacjed some photos here to help.
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Re: John Spencer & Co., London

Post by Bill Kibby » 25 May 2015, 17:41

Thanks for the clear and well-thought-out photos. This is a Victorian Cottage Piano. It is simpler than it seems, there are less digits because it is an earlier piano. Spencer's numbers are thought to have reached 4000 in 1885. The single digit is thought to be a model number. As you can read at
http://www.pianohistory.info/victorian.html
Spencer's business only began in 1882, when cottage pianos were going out of fashion, so he made very few of these. I would estimate it at 1884. If you want to search inside the piano for clues, have a look at
http://www.pianohistory.info/datemarks.html

May I add one of your pictures to the 3 on my page?

On the transfer that says "The Spencer Piano" is there any other information?
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Re: John Spencer & Co., London

Post by Carenray » 25 May 2015, 22:42

Please feel free to use any of the pictures. Do you have any idea what the "3" above the serial number means? And might there be any more information inside the piano that we should look for?

Thank you again.

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Re: John Spencer & Co., London

Post by Bill Kibby » 25 May 2015, 22:55

vic1885~SpencerCottages.png
Thanks. I did answer your question in advance, and added it to the posting above, the 3 is thought to be a model number. My hope is that you might find a date in there, we have no exact dates for Spencer numbers this early. The other 3 above are almost identical to yours. A minor point is that 2 have identical sconces (candle-holders) to yours, and this tells us they are original.
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Re: John Spencer & Co., London

Post by Carenray » 25 May 2015, 23:27

I've removed the front panel and looked all around inside, and I've not seen anything except what looks to be a penciled in date that might have been a from tuning (thanks to your site for helping me figure that out!). I looked below the keyboard and around the legs, as well as on the sides of the keys, and didn't see anything. The back of the piano is fabric- might there be marks inside that part? I am hesitant to remove it.
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Re: John Spencer & Co., London

Post by Bill Kibby » 26 May 2015, 00:36

It probably isn't a good idea to remove the back-cloth unless it needs replacing, it is rare to find any useful information in there.
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Re: John Spencer & Co., London

Post by SheilaT » 20 Jun 2015, 19:11

piano.JPG
Serial?
Hello,
I have a John Spencer Piano my husband got for me. We called the man to come tune it. When he came and looked at it, he packed his stuff and huffed, "It's not tunable; chop it up into firewood." He explained that it was never made to be tuned, that you can't reach the strings or something; and it was of no use. I love the way the piano sounds, even though it isn't in tune. It has a very distinct sound.

Is this true? I see that you ask people to supply you with pictures, especially of numbers. Here are some from mine.
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piano g.JPG
outside
piano c.JPG
Inside
piano d.JPG
Note above keys
piano b.JPG
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Re: John Spencer & Co., London

Post by Bill Kibby » 21 Jun 2015, 12:54

I am guessing you are not in Britain or Europe, otherwise this would be the NORMAL type of piano found in many people's front rooms. Some American tuners are not used to them, and don't want to be bothered, or don't have the right tools, but that doesn't mean that the piano cannot be tuned. That can only be decided if someone actually makes the effort to try. I had an enquiry about this piano some time ago, the published information suggests that it was made in 1904, but it might be a year or two earlier. The type of layout inside is called "Overdamper" (meaning that the dampers are above the hammers) but these are often known in the states as "birdcage" because of the many vertical wire rods. You need to ask tuners whether they have worked on "birdcage" or overdamper pianos before.

The metal plate refers to the Spencer bought by Her Highness in 1902. According to the Pierce Piano Atlas, Spencer piano number 38,833 was made for HRH the Princes of Wales in 1905, but this is incorrect, her purchase was mentioned in Murdoch's Music Album celebrating the Coronation in 1902. It must also have been before #37163.
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Re: John Spencer & Co., London

Post by Colin Nicholson » 21 Jun 2015, 22:33

Welcome SheilaT,

I get many phone calls for tunings to old pianos, and occasionally new customers think that the first and foremost thing to do is to book a tuning first (or only?).... it is common nature. Unfortunately, some Victorian over-damped pianos like yours need to be serviced and/or repaired first, before they can be tuned; and this is separate to a tuning visit.... rather like a car MOT and service.... 2 different things.

I myself always attempt to tune any old piano first, and go through the 'tuning motions' .... however, if there are problems, the tuning may be suspended until another visit. Here are some of the most common faults resulting in a piano not being tuned:-

1. Mechanism parts faulty/ broken/ missing/ seized up
2. Parts only working in slow motion (eg jacks) - repetition poor/ re-pinning needed
3. Over head dampers excessively "ringing on" / turnbuckles broken/ faulty/ missing
4. Broken or missing bridle tapes (a tuner would be reluctant to remove the mechanism)
5. Hammers poorly aligned with their strings
6. Previous signs of broken/ replaced strings (tuner would warn you about more to break)
7. RUSTY string coils/ tuning pins loose

A piano like yours needs to have some preparation first before it can be tuned. The mechanism needs to be reclined or removed to insert a muting strip, and remove (if fitted) the celeste rail. If No 4 above applies, I would ask your permission first before removal.

In some cases, a general overhaul and service of the mechanism is needed first, then a tuning to be done at a later date. Hope that helps.

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Re: John Spencer & Co., London

Post by SheilaT » 25 Jun 2015, 22:41

Thank you. It is helpful. I will look into someone who can offer better services for this piano. We all really love it!

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Re: John Spencer & Co., London

Post by clopez » 29 Oct 2015, 05:06

Can anyone give me some information about this piano. We received it from our neighbors but really don't have any use for it. It's a John Spencer & Co. The number inside is 67014.
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Re: John Spencer & Co., London

Post by Bill Kibby » 29 Oct 2015, 19:02

The number suggests that it was made in 1916, and that seems about right for the photo.

For general information on Edwardian pianos, see
http://www.pianohistory.info/edwardian.html
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Re: John Spencer & Co., London

Post by catwestover » 09 Nov 2015, 21:18

Thanks for the plethora of great information. We've recently acquired a Spencer piano, and are curious about its manufacture date, etc.
Serial #: 18928
I've read through the pianogen.org site about the trickiness of dating these pianos, and wondered if the serial number places it in the 1890s or the 1950s. Then, I saw a site suggesting John Spencer & Co. pianos were manufactured from the 1960s-1980s, and now I'm not sure what to think! Please see the attached images. I appreciate any help!

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Re: John Spencer & Co., London

Post by Bill Kibby » 10 Nov 2015, 19:30

Yes, the internet is full of people talking rubbish. The number suggests that it was made in 1892. There is some information about Spencer's beginnings in the 1880s, on my Victorian page
http://www.pianohistory.info/victorian.html

Your photo links don't seem to work, can you post them here, or email them to me to post?
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Re: John Spencer & Co., London

Post by catwestover » 10 Nov 2015, 19:46

That's what I get for changing the file path on PhotoBucket! Thanks for your help, here are some of the photos I have. What struck me as odd: the front panel that comes off, from where the sheet music holder comes down from, has designs on the back of it and is painted black. I will take a photo of it today, but it seemed so out of place.

I read another individual's post about US piano tuners claiming these pianos are unable to be tuned. After calling a few technicians yesterday, I had someone tell me the same thing!
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Re: John Spencer & Co., London

Post by Bill Kibby » 12 Nov 2015, 18:59

It has certainly been stripped and repolished or varnished, and probably the panels have been turned inside-out to make them plainer and modern. The columns that support the keyboard are also modernised, and the metal pedal feet seem unlikely, although this is already an unusual Spencer of its age, being overstrung.

For a more typical image of pianos of the period, see
http://www.pianohistory.info/edwardian.html
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Re: John Spencer & Co., London

Post by Colin Nicholson » 13 Nov 2015, 13:43

catwestover wrote: I read another individual's post about US piano tuners claiming these pianos are unable to be tuned. After calling a few technicians yesterday, I had someone tell me the same thing!
From a technical (ish) point of view....

In some cases, over damped piano that are badly neglected and un-serviced cannot easily be tuned, and are bracketed off as "unable to be tuned" ..... simply because the owner is not prepared to spend decent money on it getting the mechanism to a good condition. Yes, I think personally ALL pianos can be tuned, and at least some improvement made to the tone.

The mechanism on this piano looks like a "Spring & Loop" .... so hopefully all the springs and jacks are working OK for a successful tuning, however, these mechanisms have to be partly removed for prep work before tuning, and if the weight of the undercarriages is too much for the springs, they just break off. So I always ask permission to remove the mechanism and warn the customer risks are involved.

Next.... there seems to be a few hammer shank replacements? .... and an odd hammer head that doesn't belong to this piano (but does the same job). Generally speaking, pianos of this age will suffer from brittle and weak wooden joints/ broken hammers if hit too hard, and generally, spacing between the hammers and some of the shanks twisted will make a piano tuning more and more difficult, often resulting in stopping the tuning or only part-tuning it.... all because the piano is about 120 years old.

I like the "fruity" look of the veneer, and some of the interior designs look good, but I suspect this piano may need quite a lot spent on it to get it to any reasonable state ready for tuning - yeh, give the tuning a bash, but there may be tears! :cry:

The only way you will know if the piano can be tuned or not is to book a tuning - then learn from the experience.
Fingers crossed!

Agony Colin !
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Re: John Spencer & Co., London

Post by Jonharvey » 20 Feb 2018, 19:07

Hello.
What a fantastic site this is. Full of amazing knowledge and advice. I wish I had stumbled across it earlier.
Anyhow, following a 25 odd year hiatus from playing I have recently acquired a lovely old John spencer and co piano. I have included a couple of pics for reference. I have searched on this site and think the number dates it to around 1902 but If anyone could could shed any further light on this that would be fantastic!
Many thanks in advance.
Jon
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Re: John Spencer & Co., London

Post by Bill Kibby » 20 Feb 2018, 21:23

The numbers published elsewhere have inaccuracies. There is some information on my Numbers page
http://www.pianohistory.info/numbers.html
suggesting that that number was made in 1900. Looking at the photo of the whole piano, this seems reasonable. For more general information on Edwardian pianos, see
http://www.pianohistory.info/edwardian.html
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Re: John Spencer & Co., London

Post by Jonharvey » 20 Feb 2018, 21:53

Thank you for that. Great info.
Jon

d3xd3x
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Re: John Spencer & Co., London

Post by d3xd3x » 21 Oct 2018, 22:55

Hi,

I got this lovely piano yesterday, can you tell me anything about it? Looks like it was manufactured around 1913.

Dexter
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Bill Kibby
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Re: John Spencer & Co., London

Post by Bill Kibby » 22 Oct 2018, 11:09

You are quite right, the number suggests that it was made around 1913. What other sort of information are you hoping for? My own website has general information at
http://www.pianohistory.info/edwardian.html
but no archives are available to tell us anything about individual Spencer pianos.
Piano History Centre
http://pianohistory.info
Email bill@pianohistory.info
If you find old references or links on this site to pianogen.org, alter these to pianohistory.info

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