Lot 58: Piano, Authenticated Letters, King George & George Washington

Four Seasons Auction Gallery

October 23, 2016
Buford, GA, US

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Description: Muzio Clementi Square Pianoforte Connected to President George Washington and to King George III. The piano alone is fabulous. What we are offering you is an 18th Century piano that is connected to President George
Date: 1790
Provenance: Muzio Clementi Square Pianoforte with letters possibly connecting the piano to President George Washington and to King George III. The piano alone is fabulous. What we are offering you is an 18th Century piano that is connected to President George Washington. The letters alone are a valuable offering. This one purchase gets you the letters and the piano. According to the Provenance According to our consignor, this Muzio Clementi & Company square pianoforte was purchased in Miami, Florida by Robert L. Jones, a Minister of Music at a Baptist Church, in the 1950’s. Around 1970, the piano was sold to the consignor's family in St. Petersburg, Florida and they have had it ever since. We have no record on how the Clementi & Company square pianoforte got to Miami. What is especially unique about this pianoforte are the letters which were discovered in one of the drawers. Attached are copies of the original letters (original-1 and original-2) that were found inside the pianoforte, as well as typed out translations (letter-1 and letter-2) for both. The first copied letter (original-1) was written by Conyers (George William Frederick Osborne, 6th Duke of Leeds). The letter, from Hornby Castle, was addressed to Mistress (Elizabeth) Allanson at her home at Studley Royal. “The James Craik mentioned in the letter (whom the square pianoforte was gifted) was a surgeon, serving first in the British Army, and later on Washington’s staff in the American Army during the Revolution. After Independence, Craik moved from Maryland to Alexandria, Virginia, where he named Washington among his patients and was present at his death. The letter also states that King George could not reconcile the idea of Washington's fingers touching the same keys as His Majesty's. “…he seemed greatly pleased and wrote how General Washington now President of the Republic delighted to strum upon it. – (Conyers) George William Frederick Osborne The second copied letter (original-2) was written by Samuel N. Danby addressed to James Robson (Esteemed Kinsman). “The text gives much information about various members of the family and friends, including the family of George Washington. The letter mentions that Clementi made some adjustments to the instrument. In the attached Authentication of Letters prepared by Michael F. Slicker, you will find that the “manuscript style, social conversations, ink and paper manufacture give every indication that the letters are authentic. I am Charles Pharr, owner of Four Seasons Auction Gallery and Certified Apprasier of Personal Property with the International Society of Appraisers. It is my opinion the letters found in the piano are properly authenticated. It is also my opinion the letters put George Washington in the presence of this piano. There would seem to be no other reason for these piano to possess these letters than to show the provenance of the piece. In the torn part of the letter Danby refers to the reeded Sheraton legs of the piano being added. That could explain how the Clemente piano had reeded legs when we know that reeded legs were not made to this piano until after 1800. We do not guarantee the piano was ever touched by the King or the President. The original letters come with this piano. The letter of authentication by Michael Slicker comes with the piano. See the copies in the photographs and the copy of the authentication in the photographs of this listing.
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