Astor, George

Woodwind instrument maker, piano merchant and music seller. (fl. 1779-1813) He Traded as George Astor & Co initially at Holywell Street in 1779 as a woodwind instrument maker moving to 26 Wych Street and from 1796 at 79 Cornhill.  Astor referred to himself in the 1790’s as “manufacturer of grand and small piano fortes” but he was not a maker but sold instruments made by John Geib and others under his own name. He also sold musical instruments to the military.  In 1801 the partners with George Astor were George Horwood and Benjamin Banks.  George Astor became bunkrupt in 1813 but later that year he died.  The firm became Astor and Horwood.  18th century trade directories gave his business as musical instrument maker.  An advertisement that appeared in “The Times” on 9th May 1799 was as follows:

“IMPROVED PIANO FORTES, with extra additional keys – GEORGE ASTOR, Manufacturer of Grand and Small Piano Fortes, 79 Cornhill, respectfully begs leave to recommend to the notice of the Nobility and Amateurs of Music in general his newly and much-improved Piano Fortes with Patent or Double Action and additional notes being an octave higher than the usual scale and possessing a superior brilliancy and sweetness of tone. Also his Grand and Small Piano Fortes, equal (in materials, workmanship, and richness of tone) to any manufactured: with every article in the Musical Line considerably under the regular prices”.

The double action pianofortes to which Astor refers in this advertisement are square pianos made by John Geib and possibly Thomas Culliford that were primarily being manufactured for Longman & Broderip.  The additional keys refers to the extension of keyboard compass from 5 to 5 1/2 octaves.