This paper (written for a specialist readership) was first published in the Galpin Society Journal, 1995. At that time there was little in print about Adam Beyer. However, many piano history books included pictures of Beyer pianos, particularly one with four pedals in the Handel Museum at Halle, and another at Finchcocks Museum. Having worked on a number of Beyer's pianos, and greatly admired their quality, and observed a number of inferior instruments falsely attributed to him, I proposed to write a definitive paper.

This online publication reproduces very closely the original 1995 paper, but with some small revisions to incorporate supplementary biographical information. The original photographs are here reproduced with better definition.  [Additions and minor corrections: 20 March 2015]


His name is quite familiar as a maker of early pianos, but very little information has ever appeared in print concerning Adam Beyer. His distinctive square pianos are well represented in museum collections around the world, yet no comprehensive description or analysis of his output has ever been attempted and, till now, almost nothing has been known about his life. To many, Adam Beyer's pianos are especially memorable not so much for the qualities of their cabinetwork, excellent though they are, but on account of the curiosity of a bizarre assortment of pedals and special stops with which many of the instruments are equipped. Of these the most frequently seen is a curious, curving pedal on the right, shaped like a hockey stick, which operates a 'swell'. As the pedal is depressed the whole of the right side of the lid yawns open like the mouth of some monstrous animal. Ludicrous as it may appear (with the benefit of hindsight) this was nevertheless one of Beyer's most popular innovations, repeatedly used by himself, and widely adopted, at least in principle, by many other makers. Another of Beyer's innovations was the pedal-operated una corda (as applied to the square piano); a delightful idea, but very troublesome to make, and hence rarely fitted. Yet another of his innovations was quite prophetic. On several of his instruments, from as early as 1775, a battery of two, three, or four pedals included a damper lift (the earliest known examples of a pedal-operated sustaining stop on an English square piano), the buff stop and the swell. In providing a selection of quick changes of registration under the players' feet he was anticipating a fashion that was exceedingly popular, especially on French pianofortes, until at least 1810.

Who was Adam Beyer? Philip James (1930)[1] and Rosamond Harding (1931)[2] recorded him as a maker of square pianos working in Compton Street, St Anne's, Soho, both giving his earliest known date as 1774. This information corresponds with a common form of his address given on the nameboards of his instruments from 1774 to 1777, and was presumably derived from this source.[3] On later instruments the name of the parish is generally omitted and the address is simply given as Compton Street, Soho. Those made before 1774 generally give no address.

James Shudi Broadwood writing in 1838[4] grouped Beyer together with Buntebart and Schoene as among the principal craftsmen who improved upon the square piano designs of Zumpe, enlarging them and so producing a fuller tone from their instruments. He refers to this trio as 'all Germans', like Zumpe himself. Philip James (op.cit.) takes this one step further saying that Beyer was one of a party of twelve German piano makers who emigrated from Saxony about 1760 when trade was at a standstill owing to the Seven Years' War.[5] Subsequent writers have always concurred with this, inevitably stating that Beyer emigrated from Germany about 1760, yet neither James nor any previous authority had cited any evidence in support of this. It will be shown below that there are good reasons for scepticism. Even his presumed German nationality is open to doubt.

In fact the military campaigns of the Seven Years' War had ceased almost six years before Beyer opened his first known workshop in London – recorded in the Rate Books for St Anne's parish in 1766.[6]His premises were located about halfway along Compton Street, very near the place where Frederick Neubauer had set up in 1763.  Neubauer, who had emigrated from Hamburg to London about 1756,[7] advertised extensively as a harpsichord and piano maker, offering all manner of novelties for sale, including lyrichords, clavichords, and many different models of harpsichords.[8] His entry in Mortimer's Directory for 1763 is the earliest known advertisement offering pianofortes for sale in London. A sample is given below.

F. Neubauer, harpsichord-maker from Compton Street, now in Litchfield Street, St Anne's Soho, at the Hand & Tuning Hammer, makes, sells and repairs all sorts of Harpsichords, Pyano Fortes, Lyrichords, Clavir d'amours, Clavychords &c.  Harpsichords from 200L [£200] down to 20L, and all sorts of musical Instruments, according to the value of the Workmanship and the Fineness of Tone, at reasonable Prices. Lovers of Music will be surprised to find so many Improvements, and so well finished, which he makes no Doubt will please the Nobility and Gentry, with his extraordinary Workmanship, and likewise every Lover of the common Way will also find them very reasonable.    [Public Advertiser, 21 January, 1765]

But in spite of his energy and innovations nothing from Neubauer's workshop seems to survive. His repeated offers of rooms to let, in later issues of the newspapers, and of his willingness to take on an apprentice, make curious reading. We might surmise that he found some difficulty paying the rent as he occupied five different addresses in ten years. 

Beyer was quite the opposite. After his initial entry in the rate books referred to above, his name appears at the same place in every succeeding year until 1801. No newspaper advertisements by him have ever been discovered, yet during that time he produced hundreds of square pianos, usually marked with a serial number, handwritten in ink on the left end of the hitch-pin rail. The earliest that is both signed and dated is a recently reported example from 1771. Another example is marked No. 56, and dated 1773, and seeing that No. 864 is dated 1788, his annual production during this peak period may be calculated as about 50 instruments, though output may have declined sharply after 1789.[9] Clearly he could not have made so many pianos working alone, and among his known assistants we can identify his younger brother, Lorence. It is possible that other members of the family were involved too.[10] Many Beyer pianos are marked internally with the letters 'Nol', which is explained later in this paper.

Most of Beyer's instruments were square pianos. He also made some organised pianos – that is to say pianos with a rank or two of organ pipes in a cabinet beneath – and there are reasons for thinking that he may have also made a few grand pianos.[11] He continued production until at least 1798, as may be seen in a surviving specimen in the National Museum in Warsaw.[12] Of the organised pianos there are no known survivors, although two were included in the inventory of instruments confiscated from absent aristocrats in Paris at the time of the Revolution, quoted by Hess.[13] One of these is dated from 1775 and the other 1788. In that manuscript there is a mistake by the clerk who transcribed the maker's name as 'Adam Berjer', which is entirely understandable when one examines the calligraphic style adopted on these instruments (see Fig.1).

Fig 1

Fig. 1: Inscription on piano no. 440, Bate Collection, Oxford

Today, instruments by Adam Beyer can be seen in museum collections in Vienna, Leipzig, the Händel-Haus at Halle, Frankfurt an der Oder, in Boston, Berlin, and The Hague; at the Bate Collection in Oxford, at Finchcocks near Tunbridge Wells, at Heaton Hall, Manchester, and in the homes of many private owners.[14] An interesting provenance is attached to one in the Conservatorio San Pietro in Naples, tracing the ownership to the composer Cimarosa, who received it as a gift from Empress Catherine of Russia after his stay in St Petersburg. Other examples vary in their condition: No. 140 was abandoned for many years in a barn; some have been damaged by very unskilled restorations; and two at least were converted into a writing desks. A refreshing contrast is instrument No. 440, which survives in an astonishingly pristine, unrestored condition: so this will serve as a reference specimen of a typical Beyer piano (see Fig.5 below).

Earliest Instruments

The earliest known piano signed by Adam Beyer dates from 1771. (Another early specimen, No. 19, undoubtedly from Beyer but not inscribed by him, possibly dates from 1770.) In essence these pianos differ very little from the work of Johannes Zumpe, who pioneered this type of instrument in London in 1765/66. Two slightly differing forms are known in Beyer's output: with a 60-note keyboard (FF, GG–f3), or with the 58-note version (GG, AA–f3). In the latter, Beyer is closely following Zumpe's precedents but he does not follow him in providing a dummy key for GG#, and there are other more subtle differences. In either version of Beyer's early work the overall length of the case is a fraction under 57 inches (1440 mm). There are three handstops with the conventional functions established about 1769 by Zumpe – one raising the treble dampers, another raising the bass dampers (the division coming at b/c1), and the third applying a buff stop or harp, which produces a delightful pizzicato effect. The casework is quite plain. Solid mahogany is used for the front, sides and lid; the case corners having secret dovetails at the front and lapped dovetails at the junction with the spine, which Beyer always made from oak for added strength (whereas many makers used pine). To relieve this plain appearance, an inlaid line is inserted, about 25 mm from every edge, composed of one strip of boxwood and one of ebony, together totalling about 1.8 mm: the finished effect being to give the appearance of rectangular panels.

There are a number of distinctive Beyer characteristics evident in these earliest pianos. One is the use of attractive veneers as a feature panel running along the nameboard, above the keys, and continuing onto the cheeks at treble and bass ends. An easily-recognisable batch of burr elm is seen on the 1773 and 1774 instruments, of a rich, golden brown colour. (For instruments made 1774 -1783 an equally distinctive veneer of chemically stained fiddle-back maple is used, see Figure 1.) Within this panel a fancy-shaped cartouche is inlaid, whose curious trefoliate terminations, having rounded 'leaves', are thought to be unique to Beyer.[15] On this the maker's name is written in ink. Five face-fitting hinges are provided for the lid flaps, similar to those on English spinets of the period, and although Zumpe used similar hardware on square pianos, Beyer persisted with it longer (till at least 1779). His hinges (Figure 2) have a slightly different outline from Zumpe's, so they may have come from a different supplier. On instrument No. 140, and on No. 397, I have observed that these hinges are stamped 'IB' on the reverse. Those of Zumpe’s that I have inspected have no distinguishing mark impressed in them.

Fig 2

Fig. 2: Lid hinge

The hammer mechanism used on all of Beyer's known pianos is the ubiquitous 'English Single Action', as introduced, and probably invented by Zumpe. But unlike Zumpe's, the keys are front-guided in the usual English harpsichord manner, by pins in the front key-frame member. Beyer pianos also differ from Zumpe's in the quality of their workmanship – which is not to gratuitously disparage Zumpe, though truly some of his work does seem to be rather hastily put together – but to exalt Adam Beyer. His work is fit to be compared with anything produced in London at that period, and could be worthily placed beside the choicest pieces of Chippendale and Hepplewhite furniture with which so many of his clients would have furnished their rooms. Beyer's mouldings are always cut with the most admirable precision; the triple scribe lines across the ivory keys and the extraordinary accuracy of his key-lever mortises are object lessons in craftsmanship, and the quality of materials is exemplary.

Fig 3

Fig. 3: Hammers and Dampers     Note: the cover rail which limits the upward movement of the dampers was removed for this photograph.

Seeing that there is only one signed piano dating earlier than 1773, and that Beyer's workshop was established in 1768, there is a deficiency of several years which, on the face of it, seems difficult to explain. One clue, suggestive of a more extensive explanation, is provided by a square piano which came up for auction in 1992.[16] It is inscribed Jacobus et Abraham Kirckman Londini fecerunt 1773. The exterior of the case and condition of the trestle stand suggest that it must have been in very fine condition before it unfortunately came into the hands of a misguided antiques restorer who gutted it, discarding its precious keys and soundboard, and converted it into a desk, thoughtlessly destroying a wealth of historical information. What made this doubly frustrating is that it appeared to be the work of Adam Beyer. It was clear that the remaining features conformed exactly to the pattern of these early period Beyer pianos. The width of the keywell (now empty) confirms that it had a 58-note keyboard. What alerts one immediately to the possibility of Beyer's involvement is the subtle testimony of the nameboard, which, though it bears Kirckmans' name, features the same stock of veneer seen in the Beyer pianos of that year, inlaid with the same characteristic cartouche, with the same heights of the overall board, and the veneer panel. In fact the plaque is the same length as Beyer's normal ones (364 mm), which provides barely enough room for the lengthy Kirckman inscription. In the lid, plugged holes show that it originally had a set of Beyer-pattern hinges. On the oak spine the lapped dovetail joints were laid out to exactly the same pattern as Beyer's work. Only when taking a rubbing of these dovetail joints was it discovered that the dovetails at the soundboard end were impressed with stamps: 'AB' and the number ‘59’.

Taking this to be incontrovertible evidence of Beyer's work, it may well be asked whether the nameboard inscription may have been a wilful, fraudulent misuse of Kirckman's name (like the 'Kirckman harpsichords' that were passed off by Robert Falkner).[17] However, it seems that a more probable explanation is that Kirckman, in order to satisfy a demand from prospective clients, commissioned Beyer to supply such pianos, while the Kirckman workshop continued to produce only harpsichords. In this regard it is noteworthy that an analysis of the calligraphic style on this 'Kirckman' square piano shows that it was not written by the same person who was working for Beyer in 1773/4; nor indeed Beyer's subsequent calligrapher. So our working hypothesis is that Beyer made the piano, purposely leaving the nameboard blank and unpolished so that Kirckman could add his own inscription after taking delivery. Supporting this scenario, it is certain that Beyer sent out some pianos without inscribing his name. Three examples have come to light since 1995. All three left the workshop with a blank cartouche above the keyboard but each is impressed with Beyer's stamps on the dovetails. One of them bears the serial number 19 which, extrapolating backwards, could have been made as earlier as 1770 or just possibly 1769. So it may be that the absence of signed examples before 1773 can be accounted for on the basis that Adam Beyer was making square pianos to be sold through the trade, some eventually bearing Kirckman's name, and others, perhaps, bearing the inscription of other 'makers'. Some clearly went into the world with no inscription and have survived in that state, No.397 being an example.

Beyer Piano No. 440

From the simple, early instruments, conforming very nearly to Zumpe's design, to the typical Beyer piano for which he is chiefly remembered, is chronologically a very small step. The first known example incorporating a swell pedal and a more elaborate, cross-banded case is No. 140 which may have been made as early as 1774.[18] There are surviving specimens of this kind from every succeeding year. Typical examples would be the piano No. 311, at Finchcocks, shown in several recent publications,[19] and No. 440, at the Bate Collection in Oxford.[20] The latter, made in 1779, is in such wonderful condition that it will be cited as the exemplar of the type in preference to earlier examples. The remarkable history of this instrument may be a unique instance in which the entire provenance of a Beyer piano can be traced from the maker's workshop to the present day.

Fig 5

Fig. 5: Piano No. 440 (Bate Collection. Oxford)

It was bought by antiques dealer Roger Warner of Burford at the huge nine-day auction sale in October 1952 which dispersed the contents of Cusworth Hall, near Doncaster.[21] Cusworth was completely rebuilt during the eighteenth century under the direction of the owner, William Wrightson. The work began in 1740, but when Wrightson died in 1760 the project was still unfinished and, since he had no son to succeed him, the estate passed to his daughter Isabella, and the task of completing the work fell to her husband John Battie. Thereafter the Battie-Wrightson family retained possession of the property until the 1952 sale. With this kind of history it is little wonder that most of the contents of the house offered for sale at the auction were original purchases by the family, many dating from the eighteenth century. The quality of the goods on offer drew antiques dealers and collectors from far and wide, some of whom set up temporary offices in local hotels – a remarkable extravagance after the austerity period that followed World War II. Copies of the sale catalogue reveal an abundance of Hepplewhite and Chippendale furniture, much of which fetched very high prices.[22] One extraordinary recollection from Mr Warner was of bundles of eighteenth-century newspapers, all neatly ironed by the butler, in perfect condition and packaged in date order!

Lot 105, on the first day, was described in the catalogue as "An eighteenth-century mahogany frame spinet, by Adam Bener [sic], 1779". However, experts who viewed the sale quickly saw that it was not a spinet but a square piano. On viewing days it was to be seen standing at the foot of the main staircase where it had served as a side table for as long as anyone could remember. Although the external surfaces showed wear and tear consistent with such a use, the instrument's interior was then (and is now) in an extraordinary state of preservation. The explanation, I am told, is that when the auctioneers arrived, they found the instrument locked; and since no-one knew where a key might be found, a locksmith was called in. When it was eventually opened, they dicovered that the piano had been standing so long without disturbance that small particles of dust, entering through the joint in the lid, had piled up in a line across the soundboard, accumulating like a stalagmite to form a wafer-thin wall, which fell down when the piano was accidentally shaken. A few strings were broken, but otherwise everything was wonderfully in order. This outstanding state of preservation is still witnessed today in the colour and condition of the veneer work, and the inscription above the keys, shown in Fig.1 — so fresh it might have been done only yesterday — if only we could find someone with such skill!

The decorative scheme is typical of Beyer. The mahogany used in the casework is framed by contrasting borders. A narrow inlaid line of boxwood and ebony, of the same pattern already remarked on the early instruments, marks the junction of these areas. The border on some instruments is cross-banded diagonally, though not in this example. On the nameboard, Beyer follows his usual pattern, featuring a long veneer panel of fiddle-back maple – 'airswood' or 'harewood' as the cabinet-makers then called it – chemically stained (perhaps with nitric acid) to an unnatural greyish or olive brown colour

There are some characteristic features of Beyer's work to be seen in the keyboards. Limewood is used for the key levers, the panel being planed to a thickness of between 15 and 15½  mm. Zumpe, whose keys were rack-guided at the back, used to glue a buff leather pad  directly onto the top of the key where it contacted the sticker to lift the damper. Beyer, favouring front-guided keys, rebated the back so that this buff pad lay flush with key's upper surface: a much better arrangement. The mortises for the balance rail pins (2.2 mm diameter) were marked out with a triple scribe line of amazing precision: it is very rare to see any of the mortises showing the slightest sign of error. The ivory naturals have rather short heads by the standard then current ― 39 mm as compared with a standard of 40 or 41 mm from other London workshops at that time. Counting the join between the heads and tails, there are four scores marking these key heads, arranged as two pairs of two, the overall span being just over 3 mm. It would be something of a surprise to find Beyer ever compromising on quality of materials, yet his sharps are not solid ebony, as Broadwood's were, but stained fruitwood with only a slip of ebony glued on the top. Perhaps he had in mind that solid ebony would be heavier than he wished. His three-octave measure taken on many instruments is always found to be 485 or 486 mm. There is little to distinguish the widths of the various natural key tails, all being about 13 mm, except ‘D’ which is 14.5 mm (with a variation of 0.2 to zero).

Removing a few of the keys from no.440 confirms that the action has never been taken out. On the key-frame, under the keys adjacent to middle C, there are inscriptions as follows:

46 / nol / fc / 440

The handwritten 'Nol' can be seen inside many other examples and was for a long time a great puzzle, but when restoring piano No. 360 in 2000, I observed a faint signature on the lowest hammer, which, under a strong cross-light was read as Nol Symm. This I presume to be the name of Beyer's chief key maker. 'Nol' is an abbreviation of Oliver: Samuel Johnson called his friend Goldsmith by this familiar form. Tantalisingly, there is also a longer pencil inscription written inside No. 440 on the inner face of the bottom boards, but it is mostly obscured by the key-frame and so cannot be deciphered. As might be expected, after two centuries of drying, the bottom boards have shrunk slightly across the grain, squeezing the key-frame tightly in place. Were it removed, it is almost certain that a shaving would have to be taken from the back edge in order to return it into its proper position. The pencil message must therefore remain a mystery.

Since the instrument is in such pristine condition it may be of interest to note its playing characteristics: cloths under the keys have suffered so little compression that it is fair to presume that the instrument still plays very much as the maker set it. The key-dip (measured at the front of the naturals) is 7 mm. The first 4.5 mm approximately is lost motion. The velocity ratio is approximately 5.5:1; that is, the hammer rises 5.5 mm for each 1 mm depression of the key, measured at the mid point of the natural key head. This is probably the typical set-up for square pianos of this kind. As usual there is a great deal of lost motion.

The mahogany hammers are hinged with white, alum-tawed goatskin [not vellum, please note], and each hammer is guided by an upright metal pin passing through a mortise about halfway along its length. The tiny lime-wood hammer heads are covered with two layers of a vegetable-tanned, tawny-coloured leather, thought to be either from goat or hair sheep, but if the latter, certainly of a harder and more durable texture than any modern European breeds. The lever dampers which lie above the strings articulate from the back of the case on vellum hinges. They are lifted by very thin stickers acting near the midpoint of the damper. Blocks of soft, oil-tanned buff leather are used for the damping material. Thirteen notes have overspun strings in the bass, taken up to F; a further 13 notes have plain brass strings of diminishing thickness, the first three which appear to be red brass; the remainder are of soft iron. There are the usual three handstops (as previously described and shown in Figure 3). The usual type of trestle stand is provided, comprising four, rectangular-section, mahogany legs which have a small quadrant reed moulding cut in the outer edges. On this piano the pair on the right are joined just above ground level by an additional bar attached to which is the original pedal; a long, curving mahogany member, shaped like a hockey stick, terminating under the right end of the keyboard. From there it connects vertically by a metal rod (not original) to a second mahogany lever making the reverse journey across the bottom of the case to lift a carved pine plunger, guided in a slot in the very edge of the soundboard, to the right of the wrest pins. This riser pushes upwards on the underside of the lid, working the 'swell'. Since this is easily the most memorable feature of Adam Beyer’s pianos it merits some further description.

The Swell

The lid on this model is divided, not into three pieces as on the great majority of English square pianos, but into four. In addition to the usual saw cut aligned with the nameboard, Beyer also cut crosswise in line with the treble end of the keyboard, continuing across to the very back of the case. This permits the whole of the right-hand side to be lifted when the pedal is depressed. Consequently, this form of swell is very heavy under the foot, so one is reluctant to hold it open for very long. To prevent any clatter when it is lowered, red woollen cloth was glued into shallow rebates around the underside of the lid wherever it contacts the upper edges of the case.

The idea, of course, owes its inception to the then current practice of fitting the so-called 'Nag's Head Swell' to Kirckmans' harpsichords. In the harpsichord version it is unclear when and by whom it was first introduced. Hipkins credits Roger Plenius as the first maker to use it, which if true would imply that it first appeared about 1755. For the piano version it appears that Beyer is responsible. Instrument No.140, dating from the end of 1774 or early 1775, is the earliest surviving piano having a swell in the form under discussion, but an earlier piano, No.122 (recently brought in for restoration) has a surprising prototype design. The lid is divided only in the usual English fashion, and the lid-lifting mechanism consists of a system of levers that are pivoted externally, passing along the spine and thence around the right side of the case to flip up the front piece of the lid over the soundboard. It looks as if it could have been added after the pianos was made [1774], but there is no reason to doubt that it is Beyer's work, and could very possibly be his first attempt to fit a swell, perhaps in response to a client's request.

This apparently ludicrous idea – adding a swell to an instrument whose greatest virtue is supposedly its ability to play loud and soft, crescendo and diminuendo, simply by the touch of the finger – proved to be very popular with contemporary player,s and so became an enduring feature of Beyer's work. Other makers working in London were soon tempted to follow suit. A Longman & Broderip square with single action, c.1779/80, has it – in the Beyer format with a four-piece lid – though in this instance more cheaply made, without the fine hand-carved profiling of the parts.[23] Beyer's swell appears also to be the inspiration for the very similar design of a square piano by Johann Christoph Steinbrück of Gotha dated 1782 whose every part – hammers, dampers, soundboard and decorative scheme – is patently copied from a London-made original.

In subsequent years it became evident that much the same result could be achieved by raising only the front flap, as normally provided on a three-piece lid; so, during the 1780s a swell was contrived by many makers without making the extra cut in the lid. The hand-carved wooden components were replaced by simpler, iron levers, and the lifting was done by a thin metal rod or wooden dowel, variously operating though the left-hand front part of the soundboard (Bunterbart),[24] through the edge moulding surrounding the soundboard (Broadwood),[25] or else through a long hole bored vertically through the cheekpiece (Garcka and others).[26] Nevertheless, Beyer continued with his original design as shown by a surviving piano of 1793, still using the old pattern swell with a four-part lid, despite the greater convenience of the expedients adopted by other makers. The reasons for his preference may be explained by the following section.

The Inner Cover or 'Dustboard'

Another feature of the 1779 Beyer piano is the 'dustboard', an inner cover, suspended over the action and the greater part of the soundboard. There does not seem to be an authoritative name for his item, which probably reflects the fact that no one can be absolutely sure of its purpose. Is it intended to be an extra, auxiliary soundboard as some believe? The purpose was surely not to make the instrument louder (like the abortive idea of John Broadwood for a double soundboard in his 1783 patent). Experiment shows that if the piano is played with the lid up, the presence of the inner cover may persuade the player that the tone is fuller and seems to have more depth, but any such effect is small, and no great difference can be heard a few yards away when the cover is removed. Nevertheless, some people are persuaded, and consequently refer to this item as a 'passive soundboard'. Another suggestion is that its purpose is only to muffle the extraneous mechanical noises of the action. Some support for this view can be seen in Beyer's design of the damper-restraint rail, which, in these examples, is broadened to make a complete cover above the dampers, so limiting the transmission of any unwanted noise in the mechanical action. A very similar notion is that it is intended to meliorate the upper partials and so sweeten the tone. Or is it simply a dust cover, intended to protect the action when the lid is open? Is it, as I have heard plausibly suggested, merely a cover to conceal the workings from sight? Remember that we are speaking of an era of extreme politeness when the exposure of working parts might be thought indecorous. (Derek Adlam has suggested that it should be called a 'baffle', as a neutral terminology implying no specific function, but  there is little evidence that this has been widely accepted, so the most frequently-used terminology is here retained).

Whatever its purpose, this fitment was soon adopted as a standard feature by most London makers. Pianos intended to have a 'dustboard' were necessarily that much deeper so that, following the introduction of it, the exterior proportions were somewhat altered. Early Zumpe pianos have very dainty dimensions, only about 5 ½ inches in depth (not counting the thickness of the lid) combined with a length of about 51 inches. Pohlman's or Beyer's from the early 1770s complement their increased length with a depth of about 7¼ inches. With the introduction of the 'dustboard' a Beyer piano takes a decidedly more tubby appearance, almost 8 inches deep. In the 1779 piano the board is made from good quality spruce, only slightly inferior to the soundboard material, and is neither varnished nor painted. It extends from one side of the piano to the other, covering everything except the front 4 inches of the soundboard, and fits tightly in place.[27] Rarely, but helpfully, a few Broadwood pianos from the 1780s also have such a cover board inside; of a similar tight fit and made also from high quality spruce.

In eighteenth-century depictions of square pianos in use the lid is nearly always shown to be closed. Although the right-hand end of the piano is often obscured it might be supposed that the little flap over the soundboard would normally be open. This, of course, would not be the case with a player who favoured the use of the swell, whose effect presupposes that, in the default position, the whole lid must be closed. On the other hand, the provision of the inner 'dustboard' seems to be clear evidence that some musicians adopted a third alternative for which there is little iconographical or documentary evidence: playing with the lid fully raised. On Longman & Broderip squares from the post-1786 period there is confirmation of this practice in the form of a folding music desk attached to the back of the nameboard, but Beyer's 1779 piano has nothing of this sort. A further anomaly is discovered when we lift the lid to find that there is no provision for a prop stick. This is unusual. Most square pianos made after 1780 can be expected to have had a prop stick. However, those made by Zumpe all lack this item, but from the post-1780 period I can recall none except Beyer's where no prop was intended. The clear implication is that Zumpe's pianos were meant to be played with the lid down. However, with Beyer there are cords tied to little brass eyes screwed into the underside of the lid and into the inner side-walls of the case. These restrain the lid after it has passed the vertical – just such an arrangement as is often seen on many German clavichords. Only when used in this way would the dustboard (or cover) become operative. But what would then be used for a music desk? And where would one place it? The answer is of course provided by Beyer’s divided lid (shown in Figure 5).

Only the right half the lid was raised; the left half was kept in its usual place and so continued to be used as a music rest (with the lockboard raised as shown). For a few years in the mid 1770s Adam Beyer's pianos were made with the divided lid, for the swell, but without the 'dustboard'. This afforded the opportunity to play with the right side raised. It appears that in order to meet an objection that the tone was in this way made less sweet, Beyer conceived of the inner board (our so-called 'dustboard') to act as a subtle tone modifier.[28] A full discussion of the implications of this, and the subsequent mutations through which the inner board passed, and the evolution of the English square piano voicing, would place these matters in context – but unfortunately this would take us far beyond the scope of the present paper. Beyer nevertheless can be seen to have persisted with his own style of voicing and the use of the inner board and swell till the very end. The 1798 piano in Warsaw was doomed to a speedy obsolescence not only on this account but also by retaining Zumpe’s single action and only a bare five-octave keyboard.

Una Corda Stop

With this description of the 1779 instrument we have kept the instruments in a logical evolutionary order but have actually leapt over the introduction of two very interesting innovations with which Beyer experimented at various times, both making his pianos even more complex than the models so far described.

Instrument No. 140 (whose date – 1774 or 1775 – has been sadly scratched out by some long-forgotten owner) shows a radical departure in several respects.[29] Extended in all three dimensions this is one of the first of a series of instruments combining a 60-note compass (FF, GG – f3) with further musical resources and the more elaborate forms of case decoration. In addition to the three handstops, mentioned above, and the swell operated by a pedal on the right, No. 140 had an extra pedal to the left providing a keyboard shift to sound una corda. An iron roller bar was fitted to the bottom boards parallel with the balance rail, rotating about its long axis on pivot points in brackets at either end. Two lugs or spurs, forged at right angles to the shaft, penetrate through holes in the bottom boards to bear on the back of the balance rail so that, when the pedal was pressed, the whole action is pushed towards the player. A steel leaf spring fastened on the underside of bottom boards near the spine, returned the keyboard to its normal position as soon as the pedal was released. To accommodate this movement the key-frame location screws are of the dome-headed type, sitting in rectangular slots, and the front of the keyboard batten was stepped or rebated so that it would lip over the front edge of the case. It may be imagined with what extraordinary accuracy it was necessary to pin the bridges and cut the hammer heads, and then stop the movement with great precision to locate all of the parts and avoid any catastrophic discord should a hammer brush against the string of an adjacent note. Such work requires a high level of craftsmanship even on a trichord grand, but within the confined geometry of a square piano, whose strings are so closely crowded together, this was an amazingly ambitious project. Unfortunately this particular piano has not survived well, having been abandoned in a barn for many years, but it was obviously a very special model as it was veneered and cross-banded on the back. Another piano with the una corda is No. 432, dated 1779, now in the care of Manchester City Art Galleries at Heaton Hall. This too is poorly preserved. The metalware is still present though the pedal itself is lost. It has a slightly different method of securing the key-frame, using wooden turnbuckles.

The concept of a pedal-operated una corda stop may have been suggested by the much-admired grand pianos of Americus Backers, exhibited at the Thatched House in February and March 1771.[30] The essential effect of this stop – not to be confused with the 'soft' pedal on modern grands (which cannot produce a true una corda) – is a purity of tone, eradicating the slight inharmonicity which is endemic in pairs of unison strings, especially when they are of unequal length, and consequently at different tensions. Coupled with the sustaining device it can be a truly magical surprise in which one is not so much aware of the pianissimo as the ethereal qualities of the tone colour, as the untouched strings faintly resonate in sympathy. Piano maker John Pohlman was obviously impressed by it if we are to judge from an undated square piano that Messrs Legg of Cirencester once had, for this also exhibited an una corda, but in this instance operated by pulling the keyboard forward manually.[31] Another example, again hand-operated, is seen in a Joseph Merlin organised square of 1784.[32] Merlin himself did not make these instruments, so it may have been commissioned from Beyer or Pohlman.

Merlin's instruments, be they grands, squares or whatever, were always expensive. We might mention that in 1783 Charles Burney tried out a new square piano by Merlin. 'I am extremely glad that Merlin has doctored your violin satisfactorily', he wrote to a friend, Thomas Twining. '[He] has just finished a small Piano Forte [i.e. a square], so loud, sweet and beautiful that I could sit and devour myself upon it without food for 24 hours. Ma-ma! the price is  . . . 40 pounds!'[33] Burney's scandalised expression can be understood when we learn that the usual price for a simple square piano was between 16 and 18 guineas.[34] We do not know what price Beyer normally asked but it is to be supposed that his instruments would have been among the more expensive, his more elaborate models probably exceeding 25 guineas, considering the quality of the materials, the costly attention to detail and the provision of extra features. Some confirmation of this might be found in an entry in the Broadwood Journals dated June 13th, 1783, when 'Mr. Napier bought a second-hand Piano Forte made by Beyer, Price 16 guineas'.[35] For this money Napier could have had a new instrument from most makers, even from Broadwood himself. As Wainwirght remarks, some of the cheaper squares that were taken in part-exchange deals by Broadwood, were sold off through the trade for as little as six guineas a piece, this example by Adam Beyer was something of unusual quality.[36]

Other Pedals

An illustration often used in books shows a piano from the Händel-Haus in Halle by Adam Beyer, dated 1777.[37] It is especially memorable for having four pedals. The long one on the right is the anticipated swell pedal. The three clustered on the left operate the divided damper and buff stops, normally provided as handstops, and seen as such on an exactly contemporary example in the Finchcocks Collection. That Beyer was providing some of his square pianos with pedal-operated stops of this kind is beyond doubt since there are several surviving instruments in which the iron work attached to the bottom boards is easily authenticated. The mahogany pedals of the Händel-Haus piano also appear to be genuine, despite the fact that some components in the swell levers are equally confidently ascribed to a more recent restoration. A privately owned Beyer piano, No. 244, dated 1776, undoubtedly also had three pedals on the left, though they were hinged in a quite different way, from the rear left leg. They have the functions as described above.[38] It is quite possible that an even earlier example dated 1775, Beyer's No.153 now in Berlin, is the oldest surviving example showing these features.[39] In each instrument the wooden block at the left where the handstops are usually found has no trace of any screws where such levers would be pivoted. Incidentally, claims that the Händel-Haus piano is the earliest known piano with a pedal-operated sustaining device are completely mistaken.

When changes in furniture styles (about 1781) demanded that square pianos should be fitted with square tapering legs (those that we now call Hepplewhite or Sheraton style), Adam Beyer naturally conformed to the new taste. Away went the ornate brass hinges, replaced by ordinary butt hinges. The characteristic nameboard cartouche was abandoned, replaced by a less interesting long oval. But technically nothing was significantly altered. The swell remained and the lid was still divided, though a new type of pedal was necessary. This was dependant from the rear top member of the frame stand, and was straight. A hole was cut in the music shelf between the legs, to connect with a hidden lever fixed under the bottom boards which lifted the riser on the right. A fully equipped specimen of this type is to be seen in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. There are others in a tolerably complete state. However, the fate that befell most of these stands is that the shelf is either broken or removed. To obscure this loss it is a common practice either to fill up the notches in the inside faces of the legs, or to fit a bar across the pairs of legs at either end. It is among such instruments that there are many with knee levers performing the functions of the pedals described above. These knee levers should be viewed with particular caution. It is perfectly possible that Beyer could have provided knee levers to operate the stops, if a client were to demand it, but this would be most unlikely unless it were made for export. There is the possibility, of course, that pianos made in London and exported to Paris (or anywhere else where French tastes prevailed) might be modified at an early date, but it is much more likely that knee levers when present are the result of recent 'restorations'. Only a very careful examination of the underside and back of an instrument can establish its original furnishing.

Soundboard Construction

When Zumpe first began making square pianos it appears that he initially experimented with laminated soundboards but quickly adopted a more conventional spruce board about 2.5 mm thick. His first soundboard barring consisted of two or three short ribs crossing under the bridge more or less at right angles. Later, when he lengthened his soundboards, conforming more nearly to the pattern established by rivals such as Pohlman and Beyer, he adopted the pattern of two ribs running parallel to the bridge, the longer one beyond the bridge, passing under the hooked treble end, and being thereafter lapped into the liner at the back left corner.

Beyer's soundboards are very thin and have a different ribbing. The average thickness of the soundboards that I have had opportunity to measure is well under the conventional 3 mm, and even less than Zumpe's; as little as 2.3 mm is common, and on one instrument (No.140) some areas were as thin as 1.9 mm. The material on all of the Beyer pianos that I have seen is always quarter-sawn spruce. The main rib was initially about 16 mm square and runs, like the Zumpe & Bunterbart type, behind and parallel to the bridge, tapering considerably to be lapped into the liner at the back left corner. At right angles to this main rib are two or three of much smaller cross-section passing under the bridge. They are lapped into stopped mortises in the main rib, extend to the edges of the soundboard, tapering to almost nothing. Where these ribs pass under the bridge they are not rebated but have a small, almost elliptical cut-out. All of these ribs are made from spruce. The bridge is made from beech, sawn to shape. The bass end termination is characteristic of this maker, carved to a beak or point by taking a scallop out of each side. Sometimes the result is symmetrical, but no particular care seems to have been exercised to ensure that it was always so. The wrest plank has an oak base but with an upper layer of beech. A third 6 mm thick layer is composed of beech with the grain crosswise, the edges being bevelled or chamfered, and the soundboard being glued down onto this. At either end Beyer braced the wrest plank with pine blocks which, after the glue was set, were carved to a convex curved form. Under the middle part of the wrest plank it is not attached to the bottom boards nor braced in any way.

Fig 6

Fig. 6: Inner construction

Biographical Information

Adam Beyer was not only an innovative maker but a very successful one. He manufactured a good quantity of instruments, certainly in excess of 900, and sustained production for three decades (far surpassing the active periods of Zumpe, Buntebart or Pohlman). The profits from this business left Beyer with a comfortable situation in his eventual retirement.

From his last will and testament, preserved on microfilm at the Public Record Office, we see that he had several thousand pounds invested, some of it in 4% stocks with the Bank of England.[40] With these and other assets he made provision for his four surviving daughters;

  • Catherine, who became the wife of Richard Hunt;
  • Mary Ann, the wife of James Bird;
  • Sarah, the wife of John Reid (a military man);
  • Elizabeth Susan, the wife of Paul Storr (the famous silversmith).

It was normally accepted practice in those times that such bequests would be paid to the husbands, but some readers may be interested to know that in one instance Adam Beyer specified that his daughter Sarah was to receive an additional sum of £100 'paid into her own hand, independent of her husband'. The will is dated 26th September 1803.

The Gentleman's Magazine for 1804 lists among the deaths during January: 'In Pond Street, Hampstead, in his 75th year, Adam Beyer, Esquire'. The registers of the parish church, St John's, Hampstead, confirm that he was buried there on the 8th January.[41] His gravestone, only a couple of minutes walk from Fenton House (where the Benton Fletcher Collection is held), is under a yew tree, just inside the churchyard gates.[42] The inscription reads as follows:

To the Memory of
Who departed this life December 25th 1789
Aged 56
Who died 2nd January 1804
aged 74
also of James Beyer Bird, son of James and Mary Ann Bird
who died December 23rd, 1811 in the 16thyear of his age

Lorence Beyer was completely unknown until the discovery of this inscription. Fortunately, it has now been found that he too left a will, dated September 1789, in which he is described as a 'Piano Forte Maker, of Compton Street, Soho'.[43] He was the younger brother of Adam, to whom he left his working tools. But the majority of his estate was bequeathed to his niece Mary Ann Beyer, mentioned above. A further £100 was bequeathed to her sister, Sarah, to be paid when she reached the age of twenty-one (in 1790). The other beneficiary and executor was Samuel Potts, Hosier & Haberdasher, of Church Street, St Anne's.

Adam had only one son, his last known child, Adam Samuel Beyer, who was baptized at St Anne's on 2nd January, 1774.[44] It has been confirmed [by Margaret Debenham, 2010] that he died as an infant aged only five months; hence (I presume) the decision in 1794 to perpetuate the family name in the grandson, mentioned on the gravestone inscription above. Unfortunately he also died young. The high regard for Mary Ann from both her father and her uncle Lorence is very evident in the foregoing documents, so the death of James Beyer Bird at fifteen years old – the last of the line to carry the Beyer name – would have been poignantly marked by burying him in the same plot with his grandfather and the great uncle he never knew. It is a curious circumstance that the early square piano makers, Zumpe, Pohlman, Buntebart and Beyer, should have been uniformly unlucky in having no surviving son to whom they could pass on their business. I was unable to discover what happened to Adam Beyer's wife, Ann (née Lewis) but Margaret Debenham has recently confirmed that she died, aged 45, in January 1782, just when her husband was making plans to move to the fresher air on the hill at Hampstead.

The Hampstead Rate Books show that Adam Beyer acquired a dwelling house in Pond Street, in 1782, though he retained a lease on the Compton Street property where his brother continued to reside. At the first encounter the Hampstead rate collector recorded the new resident as 'Mr. Byer', confirming that the name was pronounced in the standard German way (rhyming with fire). In subsequent years the spelling is given correctly. The house was located on the south side of Pond Street which was then a little dead-end lane on the east side of Haverstock Hill, south of Hampstead village. A map of 1814 shows about half a dozen dwellings scattered along Pond Street, surrounded at that time by open fields. The Manor Court Rolls of 1804 reveal that Adam Beyer was not a tenant, as might have been supposed — very few people owned the freehold of their homes at this time — but, unusually, he clearly held the title to the house and the land on which it stood.[45] This I deduce from an enactment recorded in the manor court rolls describing the property and the adjacent stable in some detail, and then legally providing for each of his daughters to have a 'one fourth share in all the rights and benefits, their heirs and assigns forever'.

This phrase, 'their heirs and assigns forever', is a standard legal formula. It confirms Adam Beyer's absolute title to the land, casting grave doubts over former assertions of his nationality. The presumption that he was German is understandable. Many of the piano makers working in London in the 1760's and 1770s undoubtedly were German migrants. However, according to information from the Public Record Office only the holders of British citizenship were then entitled to buy or inherit land under English law — hence John Zumpe and Gabriel Buntebart, both wealthy men, could only buy long leases on London houses. But clearly Adam Beyer did own this house and the land on which it stood, and so it follows that he was, certainly in 1782, a British subject.[46] Of course, this does not necessarily imply that he was born in the United Kingdom. Long term residents in England who wanted British citizenship could apply for 'Letters of Denization' or, at a little extra expense, the full legal rights of a British citizen by Naturalization. Piano maker Christopher Ganer, born in Leipzig, did this; so too did organ builders John Snetzler, from Switzerland, and John Geib, from the Rhineland Palatinate, and a number of other craftsmen and musicians. Among harpsichord makers we could instance Swiss-born Burkat Shudi as well as Jacob and Abraham Kirckman from Alsace. Two of J. C. Bach's friends, Carl Frederick Abel and John Zoffany took this step – but not Adam Beyer.[47]

It therefore follows that, unless some records have been unaccountably lost, he was a British citizen. This could happen in only two possible ways: either he was born within the United Kingdom, or (just conceivably), the naturalization of his father could have conferred the benefit of British citizenship on Adam Beyer, his brother Lorence and any other siblings. The only recorded instance of a Beyer who made such an application in the eighteenth century is one Theodorus Martinus Mispelblon Beijer (= Beyer), who came originally from The Hague. He was granted British citizenship in 1779. Efforts to trace a connection between him and Adam have so far proved unsuccessful. If it were established it would, of course, make him originally Dutch, not German.

Needless confusion has been added to this matter by Matha Novak Clinkscale who suggested that Adam Beyer might be the same man whom Gerber listed as an organ maker in Halle an der Saale.[48] This was an unfounded speculation. The German organ maker was identified by Walter Serauky (Musikgeschichte der Stadt Halle . . ., Halle, 1942) as Johann Gottlieb Beyer who was born in Löbejűn, near Halle becoming a freeman of that city in 1765, but dying in or before 1769.[49] Adam Beyer did not come from Halle.

Nevertheless, there is a story, widely believed and endlessly repeated as 'fact', that Adam Beyer was of German birth. To this basic proposition other details have been willingly added by various authors, none of whom supply any credible sources for their assertions. The purport of their composite tale is that Adam Beyer was one of a party of twelve pioneering piano makers from Saxony, forced to leave their homeland by the economic depressions of the Seven Years' War. They are said (by Harding and other derivative authors) to have arrived in London in the year 1760. In Beyer's case this is demonstrably false. Adam Beyer married Ann Lewis at St Anne's Church, Soho, on 13 January 1760. A daughter, Catherine, was baptised at St James, Westminster, on 27 April 1760. Clearly Adam did not arrive in England that year! Indeed, if we restrict ourselves to facts, we must admit the possibility that he may not have 'arrived' in England at all. Information on his life prior to 1760 amounts only to the fact that when he married Ann Lewis he was described as an organ builder, residing in the adjacent parish of St Pancras, where, it may be pertinent to remark, Swiss-born Johann Snetzler then resided. For those who believe in strange coincidences it may be mentioned that within the small parish of St Anne's there lived a considerable number of people named Beyer, with several more living and working within a mile of Compton Street. Quite by chance, when searching for records of Adam and his wife, I discovered other Beyers, a number of whom were men of the same generation as Adam and Lorence, engaged in a variety of trades with similar status.

  • In 1761 banns of marriage were read at St Anne's for John Beyer and his bride-to-be Sarah Parkin, both being residents 'of this parish'.[50]
  • A John Beyer, probably the same man, carried on a successful business as a linen draper in Cheapside for upwards of twenty years.[51] Trade directories from 1769 till 1790 invariably include him. Like Adam, he was recorded in The Gentleman's Magazine when he died (in 1792).
  • His son, Robert Beyer, who died in 1789 is noticed in the same way.
  • Also from the Gentleman's Magazine we learn that James Beyer, a cabinet maker, whose address is given as Poland Street (a quarter of a mile south), was declared bankrupt in 1787.[52]
  • Another James Beyer lived in Broad Street only five doors from Abraham Kirckman, the harpsichord maker, and three doors from Frederick Beck, the piano maker. His trade is given as 'Upholder' in a 1785 directory which suggests that he earned his living in the same way as our modern 'interior designer', advising clients and procuring furnishings for their smart houses.[53] He was resident in Broad Street from 1772 till at least 1790. These two James Beyers cannot be one and the same man so we might conclude that it was James Beyer of Poland Street (or perhaps a third person named either James or Jacob Beyer) who was the maker of a square piano sold at Sotheby's in 1981 – an instrument inscribed 'Jacobus Beyer Londini fecit, 1789'.[54] (Internal features show many stylistic divergences from Adam Beyer's work, so it is not from his workshop.)
  • Back in St Anne's parish there lived a Philip Beyer, whose wife Mary gave birth to a son in 1776: he was baptized at St Anne's on 14 May and given the name Adam Lawrence Beyer. (This would be such an extraordinary coincidence that I think we may conclude that these people were related to Adam and Lorence.)
  • The following year another child was baptized there whose father is given as William Beyer.[55]
So the picture that emerges is of numerous tradesmen named Beyer, living within this sought-after area of west London, with strong suggestions that they (or some of them) were closely related, to each other and to Adam.

Taking all this evidence together it is simply ridiculous to assert that Adam Beyer was an adventurous pioneering migrant from Saxony. Certainly he did not migrate to London in 1760. Rather, he appears to be a member of an extensive family, settled in London, well-established, Anglicized, and presumably resident in England for some time. Not one of them is recorded as applying for British citizenship. It should be noticed too that none of these people has a Christian name which would suggest German origins (unless it be concealed in the rather unusual spelling of Lorence; but these old registers have many unusual spellings).[56] None of these men chose a German-speaking wife (as Abraham Kirckman and Burkat Shudi did) and none of Adam Beyer's daughters took a German husband. The baptismal names given to the Beyer children – Robert, James, Susan, Sarah, Elizabeth, Lydia, Catherine, Mary Ann, Philip – are in no way suggestive of an immigrant family. That said, the task of establishing Adam Beyer's place of birth beyond all doubt could be very time-consuming. [It may be mentioned here that some descendents of Adam Beyer, in the female line of course, have claimed, without citing evidence, that Adam Beyer was born in Erfurt. A careful search in the archives there has not shown any baptismal record of Adam or Lorence.] For the present therefore, regarding Beyer's origin and family connections, all that may be said with confidence is that he was born in 1729 (or the first day of 1730), the place of birth not yet discovered, and that he appears to be a member of an extensive family of trades people or artisans who became well established in London during the eighteenth century. Statements that Adam Beyer was born in Germany cannot be substantiated, and many printed texts stating that he was a member of a mythical party of twelve Saxon piano makers who arrived in London in 1760 should be disregarded. Further research will be followed whenever new opportunities present themselves. In the meantime we must be satisfied with what is shown above, and enjoy the legacy of fine instruments which Adam Beyer's superb skill and enterprise have bequeathed to posterity.

POSTSCRIPT: the publication of this paper has revealed that Adam Beyer has a considerable number of living descendants. One who made contact was Dr Anthony Storr, since deceased, a fellow of Wadham College, Oxford, and an eminent academic psychologist. This gentleman, and another person who plays music professionally in London, trace their descent from Elizabeth Susan, Adam's fourth daughter, afterwards Mrs Storr (wife of the very famous silversmith Paul). Adam's eldest daughter Catherine Beyer, who became Mrs Hunt, has numerous descendents bearing the name Hunt, who have provided me with a genealogy which includes a sister of Adam and Lorence, 'Aunt Catherine', of whom a portrait is still extant, painted in oils on a copper panel. A very well-known baroque violinist is also a descendent in this line. I have also received a communication from a member of the Reid family, descended directly from a nephew of Sarah Reid, née Beyer.


[1] Philip James, Early Keyboard Instruments (London, 1930), p.64.
[2] Rosamond E. M. Harding, The Pianoforte  —  its History Traced to the Great Industrial Exhibition 1851, PhD Thesis, (Cambridge University Library). Subsequently published, with a few changes, Cambridge 1933.
[3] I note that James, in his preface, mentions Mr Francis Buckley, 'without whose unremitting energy the appendix of makers' names would have been sadly deficient'. It may therefore be chiefly to him that the compilation of this list may be credited. Harding apparently depends on James for the details of Adam Beyer.
[4] James Shudi Broadwood, Some Notes & Observations, 1838 with emendations by H. F. Broadwood, printed 1862, London.
[5] The story of the 'Twelve Apostles'(which is probably entirely apocryphal) was first mentioned by Edward Rimbault in The Pianoforte, its Origins, Progress & Construction (London, 1860).
[6] Rate Books for St Anne's Parish, Westminster Public Library A232. Subsequent discovery: Beyer was resident in Kemps Court, to the south of Broad Street, St James' Westminster from 1761-65 recorded as Adam Bier.
[7] Neubauer advertised in the Hamburger Anzeigen in 1754 (quoted in the Katalog 14 Tage Alte Musik in Stadt Herne, 1989) but he was certainly resident in London by 1758 when his daughter married Abraham Kirckman at St James, Piccadilly.
[8] Public Advertiser, 29 April 1765.
[9] Decline in production after 1789 coincided with the death of Lorence Beyer. Many fewer pianos survive from after 1790.
[10] James Beyer for example, see note 49 below.
[11] Warwick Henry Cole, 'Americus Backers, Original Forte Piano Masker', Harpsichord & Fortepiano Magazine (October 1987), p.81ff.
[12] I thank Jzdor Grzeluk, Museum Narodowe w Warsaw, for sending information about this instrument. It has a mahogany case with satinwood borders and matching stand with tapered legs, in all respects similar to those of 1790 (in Vienna) and 1793. The lid is still divided in the characteristic manner.
[13] Albert G. Hess, 'The Transition from Harpsichord to Piano', GSJ VI (1953), p.75ff.
[14] Since this paper first appeared others have been reported in Canada, Italy, the USA, and the Netherlands, all in public museums, and the list of privately owned specimens has grown considerably, see appendix.
[15] A similar design was used by Thomas Garbutt circa 1776, but with pointed rather than round trefoils, and also by Charles Trute in a square piano of 1777 sold at Phillips auction rooms London in 1998. Trute's work in this instrument is so similar to Beyer's style as to suggest that he may have been a pupil.
[16] The writing desk at which this article was written. Sold by auction at Cirencester by Moore, Allen & Innocent.
[17] See for example the 1755 'Kirkman'[sic] at Edinburgh (with the Russell Collection) signed under the soundboard by Falkner.
[18] Beyer piano no.140, see note 26 below.
[19] For example PIANO, David Crombie (1995) pages 18 and19.
[20] Formerly it was on loan to the Faculty of Music at Oxford from Roger Warner of Burford, Oxfordshire. I am grateful to Mr. Warner for many of the details that follow concerning the sale at Cusworth Hall.
[21] Cusworth Hall is now a museum.
[22] An annotated copy of the sale catalogue is held at the Cusworth Hall Museum. Two other keyboard instruments were included: a Kirckman harpsichord of 1760 and a square piano by Broadwood, 1805. The Beyer sold for £48; the Kirckman for £150.
[23] Private ownership, Brussels; restored by Michael Cole.
[24] Gabriel Buntebart et Sievers 1785, restored by Michael Cole; last known location Florida.
[25] John Broadwood square piano in private ownership near Oxford.
[26] Georgius Garcka Londini fecit 1788, restored by Michael Cole; last known location Broadway, Worcs.
[27] Clinkscale (op. cit., p.23) is quite mistaken in saying that this board is not original, as also when saying that the legs are square tapered. An indentical board is still surviving in the 1790 piano in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
[28] Alfons Huber has made a similar observation about the early nineteenth-century Viennese fortepianos. See 'Deckelstützen und Schalldeckel an Hammerklavier', in Studia Organologica: Festschrift für. J. H. van der Meer, ed. Friedemann Hellwig (Tützing, 1987), pp.229-49.
[29] No.140 bought by Michael Cole from Mr Alan Legg of Cirencester. Last known location Highworth, Wiltshire.
[30] Warwick Henry Cole. op. cit.
[31] Information provided by the late Mr Alan Legg.
[32] Illustrated in C. F. Colt & Anthony Myall, The Early Piano (London, 1981). P.33 – an organised square piano.
[33] Letter of Charles Burney to Thomas Twining, 1783. British Library Add MSS 39929 fol.324.
[34] See Warwick Henry Cole, 'The Early Piano in Britain Reconsidered', Early Music 14/4 (Dec. 1986). p.63ff.
[35] Bodleian Library, Oxford: MS Eng. misc. b107.
[36] David Wainwright , Broadwood by Appointment (London, 1982), p.79. Six square pianos sold by Broadwood as a job lot for £44.2.0.
[37] Shown in F. J. Hirt, Meisterwerke des Klavierbaus (Olten, 1955) and in W. L. Sumner, The Pianoforte (London, 1966), and others.
[38] Private ownership, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.
[39] Berlin Musikinstrumenten Museum; see Clinkscale (op. cit), p.22.
[40] Adam Beyer's Will at Public Record Office, London, under file no. PROB11 1403.
[41] Registers of St John's Hampstead, at Swiss Cottage Library, London NW3.
[42] The stone is horizontal, second from the gates on the extreme right. It is liable to be covered by several inches of dead leaves from the overhanging yew trees.
[43] Public Record Office: PROB11 1187.
[44] Registers of St Anne's Soho at Westminster Public Library.
[45] Manor Court Rolls at Swiss Cottage Library.
[46] Tracing Your Ancestors, Public Record Office Publications, Chancery Lane, London
[47] Aliens in London, Letters of Denization and Naturalization 1701-1800, Publication of the Huguenot Society (London, 1918).
[48] Martha Novak Clinskale, Makers of the Piano (OUP, 1993), p.22.
[49] My thanks to Kerstin Schwarz of the Händel-Haus for this information.
[50] Registers of St Anne's Soho, at Westminster Public Library.
[51] For example Kent's Directory, 1785.
[52] The Gentleman's Magazine for 1787.
[53] Bailey's British Directory 1785.
[54] Sotheby's Sale catalogue: 'Important Musical Instruments'. May 1981, Lot 512. It is also possible that this instrument was an eighteenth-century 'fraud'', like the harpsichords made by a mysterious Bernardus Shudi.
[55] Registers of St Anne's Soho.
[56] Usual English spellings are Lawrence or Laurence. German spelling usually Lorenz. Anyone who cares to read through a few pages of the parish registers for St Anne's will see a bizarre selection of unusual Christian names.

Note: the appendix formerly attached to this paper has been withdrawn.

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