Chickering & Sons Square Grand Piano 1838
Boston based Chickering & Sons were the largest piano makers in the United States up until Steinway overtook them in the 1860s. They introduced several innovations for the instrument, such as adding a large metal plate to give structural support to grand pianos.
They also ran several music performance halls in Boston, and they continued in business for 160 years up until 1983 — which seems like an odd time to finally throw in the towel, having made it so far.
This is a typical early Chickering design, an almost desk-like piano with a very ‘furniture’ look — known as a ‘square’ piano. It’s made of heavy rosewood and is strung horizontally under the lid.
Square pianos had been around for about a hundred years when this example was constructed, and, though an interesting experiment in design, were in fact at the end of their evolutionary cycle by this point.
Considered an interesting offshoot of ‘real’ pianos, the square piano is so different in tone, action, and playability that it could be considered an entirely separate instrument.