This piano is one of the rarest instruments in the collection because of its sloping front, a particularly unusual design feature not seen in upright pianos of the era.
WAAPA’s esteemed Professor Geoffrey Lancaster AM believes it is reasonable to conjecture that this piano is the only one of its type in the world.
No other piano like this is listed in Martha Novak Clinkscale’s ground breaking book, Makers of the Piano 1700-1820, a comprehensive guide to all known extant pianos built during the earliest years of the instrument’s existence.
Internationally acclaimed historical piano restorer Lucy Coad, who visited Edith Cowan University earlier this year to assess the pianos in the Stewart Symonds Collection, commented that she had ‘never seen one by this maker’.
Not much is known about John Watlen, apart from that he was a Scottish-born, London-based piano maker.
The sound of the piano, as far as can be ascertained prior to restoration, is the characteristic sound of English uprights in the early nineteenth century: a resonant, ‘plummy’ sound that was perfect for the polite drawing rooms of the middle class. Restoring this unique instrument will open up an exciting new field of discovery for early piano lovers and aficionados.