1808 Joseph Kirckman square piano

1808 Kirckman square piano

The firm of Kirckman is best known for fine 18th century harpsichords but this square piano was made by Joseph Kirckman  who took over the business from his father, Abraham Kirckman in 1794.  It was made a year before the last harpsichord was produced in his workshop.  The nameboard inscription reads:   “Joseph Kirckman,  Maker to her Majesty,  London, 1808”.  It is a well-made instrument in a mahogany case.   The spine (back) of the piano is also in mahogany with line inlay.  It was probably intended for the  instrument to be positioned away from the wall so that the pianist could face other musicians.   It was one of the first square pianos to have six slender turned legs replacing the French frame stand.   It uses William Southwell’s  patent for “Irish” dampers and also the design for accommodating the additional keys from 5 to 5 ½ octaves  under the soundboard.  These patents were subject to legal wrangles until just prior to 1808.    Square pianos by Kirckman are fairly rare and were probably more expensive than the average square piano.