For a long time I have wanted to own a square piano. Square pianos are not, of course, square but rectangular. A few weeks ago one came up at an auction nearby and I was the successful bidder. I was particularly pleased to find that it was made by someone better known as an organ builder, William Gray (c1757-1821). It appears that Gray advertised himself as a pianoforte maker in the the early 1800s. There are two earlier pianos known by Gray and were made jointly with his brother Robert who died in 1796. Mine is the only one (yet) that I have found to bear his name alone.
Here is the nameboard - no date or number - with calligraphy typical of the early decades of the 19C
The solid mahogany case has some small repairs and needs some more but there is some nice inlay work and what appears to be original brass work.
The action is now all taken out and the cloths (not felt) have all been well eaten by moths. A number of hammers need to be made and they all need new vellum or goatskin hinges. I suspect that there has been some restoration, but a long time ago, and many of the original overwound bass strings are still there.
The main thing about this restoration project (for myself this time not for the business) is that these pianos date form a time when everything required can be made from readily available materials (wood, leather, cloth [of the right kind], iron and brass) using tools that are found in a reasonably equipped but not specialist workshop. In short they have the same appeal for me as the early organs.