Anonymus Italian square piano ca.1785-90
Kneelever for raising the dampers
This piano is indeed another treasure in Pooya Radbon Fortepiano collection.
It is a well decorated version of the neighbor Italian square piano on this list which must be a north Italian, most probably Bolognese piano of the late 18th century. Although there are several elements of it that can make us think this piano can be a South German one, but more clues show that it should be a north Italian square piano when it was under Hapsburg.
The action is simple Prellmechanik and unlike the sister piano which must have had exactly the same kind of dampers has got its full set of dampers which look like no other piano worldwide sofar!
The inner board fabric is like all other parts of this piano original and looks similar to those of Wagner from Dresden.
Another interesting feature is that it has also the so Dust cover, covering the action, soundboard etc. clean from dust is the duty of the green cover which covers all of the surface.
Similar dust covers which differ from English ones can be found on Wagner's square pianos or clavecin Royales made in Dresden.
Some relative square pianos of the period in north Italy had similar action but under dampers. This one has strange dampers with are brass L formed dampers holding a piece of wood, with red cloth (seen on several square pianos made in Italy!).
These dampers are attached to the key ends and work very well.
This special design for dampers is unique and is seen only on these two very similar pianos of this collection sofar!
The great advantage of this kind of dampers is that they have almost no weight but damp effectively. This makes the touch very light.
The dampers lift functions with a kneelever. Once you press the kneelever, it raises a board under the key ends and the whole keyboard goes a bit lower, which means the key ends go a bit higher so this way dampers are off!
There is no kapsel and hammers are attached to the left side of the key ends with special square head pins and making them free of noise is very difficult.
Some square pianos made also in north Italy, specially in Milano have wooden kapsels (same but same action) or are modeled from English square pianos with English simple action which was more or less also a common action for square pianos in Germany and Italy.
Hammers must have been leathered originally and do not give us any space to fantasy for unleathered hammer heads!
The main reason is not because there is now leather on the hammers, but lacking various hand stops for sound effects which almost all unleatherd hammer square pianos had in Germany makes us almost sure that it must have been leathered originally. Unleathered hammers on pianos was not in fashion in Italy. (although it was the case for Tangentenflügeln)
The veneer work, untouched inner cover for the action, original action, soundboard etc. makes it a very attractive piano for collectors, researchers and musicians.
It must have been a very expensive piano at the time, being made in Mahogany, veneered fully on the case, lid and stand at the front, back and sides all inlaid with florentine motives with the same craftsmanship and attention as the front appearance!
Maybe it will not be an unjust percentage if we say : in 100 square pianos of the 18th century, today more than 95% are English or French and only a few are German or Italian (maybe 1 Viennese!).
So, luckily it became possible to save this piano from market and business which ends up with an unclear future of the instrument, disappearing in most cases from the eyes of researchers, restorers and makers...