A rare and historically important Irish square piano made by Robert Woffington c1789. There are very few pianos that have survived made in Dublin before 1790, (only four earlier square pianos are known) All these instruments are in museums or other important collections.
The piano has not received recent intervention. It is essentially in original condition with some evidence of old maintenance but in a poor state of preservation. The dampers and Venetian swell (a set of louvers) are missing. An appropriate outcome for this instrument would be to conserve it for static museum display but equally it could be restored back to playing condition.
It follows the English tradition using Zumpe’s single action with overhead dampers now missing. One other Robert Woffington square piano exists from the same period at Edith Cowen University, Perth, Australia formally in the Stewart Symonds collection. Images of the dampers of this instrument will be provided to enable a new set to be made if the piano is to be restored. The keyboard compass is 5 octaves, FF to f3 excluding FF#. It has original ivories and CITES certification would be necessary if this piano is purchased from outside of the UK. An inscription inside gives 1789 that it almost certainly the date when it was made. There is also a name inscribed “Catherine Montgomery” who was probably the original owner. The design of the piano supports this early date. The Irish stand is original.
Robert Woffington was an organ, harpsichord, and pianoforte maker in Dublin. He was apprenticed to Ferdinand Weber and was initially in business with William Gibson trading as Gibson and Woffington at 6 Grafton Street. He went into business on his own account in 1778 at 9 William Street and is listed as a piano maker from 1787.
Four pianos made by Woffington survive and include two upright pianos (one in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, and the other in the Geelvinck Music Museum, Zutphen, Netherlands) and two square pianos (one at the Edith Cowen University, Perth, Australia mentioned above and this square piano)
The four earlier Irish square pianos include:
Ferdinand Weber c 1772, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Ferdinand Weber c1770’s, Cobbe Collection, Hatchlands, Surrey, UK, Ferdinand Weber c1780’s, Eric Feller collection of instruments, Germany, and Robert Woffington c1780’s Edith Cowen University, Perth, Australia.
Expressions of interest are invited by email to Graham Walker: firstname.lastname@example.org The price is negotiable, but its historical significance does not necessarily mean that it has an increased value. It is important that this square piano can be conserved or authentically restored for the future.