Brassware Patterns – 1

Brassware Patterns for early keyboard instruments

I make brassware for a variety of early keyboard instruments using the lost wax process.

Flemish: From the 1638 loannes Ruckers instrument in the Russell Collection, Edinburgh. made with reference to the published drawing. The new Ref. 150 is reputed to be Flemish, but it looks more Italian to me; Ref. 149 is created to match.

Italian: a flap hinge copied from those on the outer case of an Italian harpsichord signed `G.Z. 1622', now in the Cobbe Collection at Hatchlands Park, Surrey. Useful since it is so narrow!

French: Pascal Taskin 1769, in the Russell Collection, Edinburgh, made with reference to the published drawing. and Sebastian Garnier, 1747, once in the Michael Thomas Collection. Spanish patterns: a set which includes lift-off strap and flap hinges (and now a version with conventional knuckles) , copied from the fittings on an anonymous instrument in private hands in the UK (see Galpin Society Journal XL VIII, March 1995 for a description of this intriguing instrument). New is a Donzelague set, a strap hinge, lock and a neat hook.

German: Mietke flap hinge and the big strap hinge (which shows on the inside of the lid) are made from drawings and photographs of the 'Hudiksvall' Mietke in Sweden. Similarly the lever handle is from drawings of the `Berlin' Mietke. The smaller set of `sculptured' hinges are based on those possibly un-original hinges on the Berlin double-manual; my thanks to Bruce Kennedy for the pattern. For a rather nice set of Gräbner hinges I have to thank John Phillips of Berkeley, California.

Early English: `Anon. 1623', a set based on the fittings found on an instrument once in the Michael Thomas collection (see Early English Harpsichord Bullding – a Reassessment, Thomas McGeary, The Harpsichord Magazine, Vol. 1 No. 1, Oct. 1973, pp l2-14). The Joseph Tisseran of l700 in the Bate Collection, Oxford, and the Thomas Barton of 1709 in the collection of Dr Rodger Mirrey, London, both have the same brassware, while the Bate collection's William Smith (circa 1720) has the same pattern of strap hinges although the flap hinges are quite different, and all are made of much thinner material. Late English harpsichord brassware is represented by copies of the fittings found on the two 1785 Longman and Broderip harpsichords in the collections of Kenneth Mobbs and of Alexander Mackenzie of 0rd, and the 1781 Shudi-Broadwood in the Bate Collection, Oxford; and from Kirckman instruments I have drawn in the past.

Virginals: the iron-work on the Stephen Keene instrument of 1668 in Edinburgh has been re-created in brass which can of course be patinated to appear like the originals.

English Spinet brassware: Hayward, c.1680, drawn during restoration by Miles Hellon; Keene & Brackley: a complete set made from impressions taken by John Barnes and Darryl Martin from the spinet of 1715 in John Barnes' Collection in Edinburgh; Hitchcock, from the instrument c. 1730 in Sulgrave Manor.

Clavichords: The Hass clavichord set is the standard type he used, drawn by Lance Whitehead. The Hoffman clavichord spine hinge and lock are impressive, and I made a flap hinge (Ref. 171) to match; the instrument is now in the Cobbe Collection at Hatchlands Park. Ref. 165 is new, from the Silberman of 1775 in Nürnberg. Cast threaded tangents are available in two lengths 28mm and 32mm.

To suit any harpsichords, Ref. 6, 10 and 94 strap hinges will complement Ref.7 flap hinge, with matching lever, harpstop and lock escutcheons. (Ref 6 are loosely based on the ironwork found on the Steven Keene virginals in the Russell Collection.) A certain amount of 'mix&matching' can be done with Ref. 10 and Ref. 94 parts.

Early pianos: I make a variety of oval and round stand bolt covers from square and grand pianos, and various other fittings, all made by taking impressions from original parts on instruments in the Bate collection and the collection of Kenneth Mobbs in particular, and others in private hands. In addition, hinges and damper parts from square pianos, and (fabricated) spine hinges and decorative bits for early Viennese pianos – Fritz, Walther, Graff and Brodman etc.  – are available. I have been known to turn those square piano leg-rings; there must be hundreds of originals around the bric-a-brac stalls and shops, masquerading as napkin rings….

I also make a tuning hammer, based on an eighteenth-century example in my possession; nicely balanced and produced to fit a large range of pins, it is (like the original) a joy to own and use. It has a wooden handle, usually rosewood, with bronze strikers at the end for settling loose tuning pins and children; the shank is cast bronze, and I make it in two basic sizes, and also with the shank offset in the handle for finer control and ease of use tuning near the lid of spinets, virginals and square pianos.

I am indebted to curators, restorers and private owners for their generosity in allowing impressions to be taken and copies made.