Grand piano and related ephemera, timber / iron / ivory / paper / cardboard / lead / leather /string, piano designed and made by Collard & Collard, London, England, 1909-1945
This piano, made by Collard & Collard in 1909, is one of the most recent of all the English made pianos in the museum's collection, the earliest being a small square piano by Johannes Zumpe dating from 1773. Collard & Collard were one of the great English piano manufacturers of the nineteenth century and were one of the largest producers apart from John Broadwood and Sons. This instrument combines solid English casework with intricate decorative fretwork found in the music stand. It offers an interesting comparison with pianos made by other European and American makers at the same time.
Although made in 1909 it still exhibits the English manufacturer's tendency to use design techniques that had been superceded by many makers in Europe and the USA. One such feature is the straight stringing used in the bass rather than overstringing. The latter approach had the advantage of ending the strings at a point on the soundboard that was more responsive and increased the piano's volume. This technique had been used, by Steinway for example, since about the 1870s. Margaret Cranmer in the New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments (Macmillian, London, 1984, p.436) states that "In 1888 John Clementi Collard, son of CL Collard, attacked overstringing as an inferior acoustical system used by good makers only when they were compelled to do so by demand, which is limited". The seven octave compass that this instrument has was used in the period from the 1850s to 1870s. After this point the modern seven and a quarter octaves became the usual standard.
This instrument is of relevance to Sydney as it was used by the donor's family as a shelter during an artillery barrage in 1942 when three Japanese submarines attacked shipping in Sydney Harbour. The family were living in the Sydney suburb of Abbotsford at that time and after the donor's father had boarded the windows up with wooden screens for protection against flying glass the family, who were minding a neighbour's baby at the time, hid under the piano as it was the most solid item of furniture in the house to protect them from falling rubble should the house become trapped in the firing zone.
Curator, music & musical instruments
The piano was designed and made by Collard & Collard, London. The piano was made in 1909. According to the Pierce Piano Atlas, 10th edition (Bob Pierce, USA, 1997) serial number 17485 was made in 1909.
See parts for ephemera production notes.
The piano was given to donor by her parents as a gift for her twenty-first birthday. The donor played some piano but mainly sang and was able to accompany herself with the piano. It was also used by the donor with family and friends for informal performances and singing at home.