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Graham WalkerThis is the website of Graham Walker, Dorset, UK who has had an interest in the early piano for over 30 years. He has undertaken the restoration of instruments for private collection and has also carried out research on early pianos and their makers over this period. This has been done alongside a career in management consultancy and performance management. Early retirement in 2007 enabled him to become more involved and he commissioned a cloth manufacturer to produce an authentic keyboard cloth. This cloth is the nearest match to an early 19th century piano cloth that can be made within modern manufacturing processes. It was initially produced for his requirements but it soon came in demand by others.  Further types of cloth have been replicated by request from makers and restorers.  These cloths can be purchased from the online shop on this website.  He has also undertaken some research into the leather used in early English pianos and is currently working in liaison with the Institute of Creative Leather Technology, Northampton University, UK with the objective of determining specifications. He is involved in supporting interest in the early piano and is passionate about ensuring that our heritage of early pianos collections in the UK can be maintained for the future.

Square Piano Nameboard Fretwork

Nameboard fretwork apertures backed by coloured silk were generally used by makers from about 1800. There were various designs and sizes but there were normally two fretwork panels positioned in symmetry towards each end of the nameboard and one internal fretwork in the left-hand back corner of the instrument. This feature in square pianos was patented by William Southwell, a maker from Dublin in 1794. (Patent for improvements in the pianoforte, No.2017, 18th October 1794) and the earliest known extant example of a square piano with fretwork is at Croft Castle, a National Trust property near Leominster, Herefordshire.   The nameboard is dated 1784 but this assumed incorrect and a later addition.   It was likely to have been made about 1793, the year before the patent was granted.

Southwell square piano

A Southwell square piano at Croft Castle, Leominster, Herefordshire, England that shows the nameboard fretwork.  This is probably the earliest example of this feature.

While it is possible to find various colours of original silk used to back the fretwork apertures on square pianos the majority of instruments used a slightly blue, sage green coloured silk that was probably obtained by piano makers from Spitalfields, the centre of silk weaving in London. Later 19th century square pianos often used red silk.

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