Vintage Bagpipe Archive

Photos and descriptions of all instruments featured
since October 2010

  • Duncan MacDougall, circa 1890

    SOLD – This Duncan MacDougall set came to me from New Zealand, where it had been played over the past 40 years by prominent NZ piper Murray Mansfield and his father Ian. New Zealand was a popular destination for MacDougalls in the latter part of the 19th century.

    The pipes are ebony, mounted in ivory, some of which may be marine ivory, likely walrus. The pipes were stripped, revealing no cracks. All pieces appear to be original except for the blowpipe, which is a replica mounted in premium imitation ivory.

    Duncan MacDougall was of course a near-mythical pipemaker who made pipes from 1857 until his death in 1898. This set almost certainly comes from his Aberfeldy period.

    With my Canning reeds the pipes were immediately steady. They displayed a full, rich sound with a particularly fulsome bass.


  • Robertson, full silver, hallmarked 1952

    SOLD – James Robertson made pipes in Edinburgh from around 1908 until his death in 1948. The company continued until 1964, producing pipes of equal or superior quality as when their founder ran the show.  The manufacturing and tonal consistency of their pipes through more than 50 years of operation was remarkable.

    This spectacular set was made and hallmarked in 1952. It came to me crack-free needing only a strip and refinish. All pieces are original except for the mouthpiece, which is modern nickel.

    The pipe was robust and steady on my shoulder: the usual exceptional Robertson sound.

    Full silver Robertsons are rare and this is a superb example of some of the company’s best work.

  • Henderson, circa 1930s, blackwood, bakelite, casein, nickel

    SOLD – This is a primo, ivory-free Henderson set with an unusual configuration. Likely dates from the years around 1935. It has wood projecting mounts, nickel ferrules, bakelite ring caps and casein bushes. It’s possible that the nickel ferrules are not original.

    This set was completely refurbed: stripped and refinished, repairing a cracked bass stock and one cracked tuning pin. Both repairs are invisible and will not return. The set came with a replica polypenco blowpipe — slightly shorter than the original, though the original is in fine shape — and blowpipe stock.

    Tonally, I thought this was a special bagpipe: very robust with a great chanter blend and she locked into tune quickly and surely.


  • Robertson, silver and ivory, hallmarked 1955

    SOLD – This Robertson set was made the year I was born, but it’s in much better shape. It’s hallmarked 1955, made in the last dozen years of the company’s existence, a time when their manufacturing standards were at their highest.

    The set underwent a full refurb very shortly before I acquired it and it looks spectacular. No cracks or repairs, though the original ivory mouthpiece bulb has been replaced by imitation ivory.

    Bold and steady like all Robertsons, this set is an excellent example of the company’s best work. The stocks are tapered, as were all Robertson stocks during this period, purportedly to reduce turbulence and unsteadiness in the drones.


  • Robertson, full silver, hallmarked 1961-62

    SOLD – This Robertson set came to me from a player in midwestern Canada who played them at the highest pipe band levels. They are a rare full-silver Robertson, hallmarked 1961-63. The drone and chanter stock bores are flared: a common treatment in Robertsons of this era.

    The pipe was stripped and refinished and came away with a verdict of no blemishes but one:  at some point the blowpipe went missing and was never found. A replica has been made with a non-matching aluminum alloy mount which blends in nicely with the set as a whole.

    This set played like almost all Robertsons I’ve played:  bold, rich and steady.


  • Duncan MacDougall, ebony, ivory, engraved German silver, circa 1870s

    SOLD – This lovely Duncan MacDougall set is thought to be from his Aberfeldy period, perhaps circa 1875.  Ebony, with elephant ivory and German silver with a simple thistle pattern, these pipes are typical of Duncan’s elegant design.

    The tuning chambers are brass lined. The drone stock bottoms are rounded off going into the bore, which may or may not be original. There is some staining on the ivory — not too much, just enough to add character!

    The pipes played beautifully. Not booming like the full silver Hendersons on this page, but they had good presence, steadiness and great blend.

    Typical of pipes with brass inserts, one tenor top required some invisible whipping, as did one stock. Repairs are virtually invisible. The pipes were refinished.

    MacDougall sets don’t get much better than this.

  • Henderson, ebony, full silver, hallmarked 1918-19

    SOLD – This magnificent full plain silver Henderson comes with some history. Up until 1998 it was owned by famed Australian piper Greg Wilson who won with it two Braemar Gold Medals, the Dunvegan Medal at Skye, and the Northern Meeting Gold Medal at Inverness. Each piece is hallmarked PH 1918-19

    It is one of the more voluminous pipes I’ve ever played — a real kick. They were steady, and seamless and had a great chanter blend.  They are a prize-winning set.

    The caveat is, being they are ebony, they have had cracks, and more cracks than most ebony pipes I’ve encountered. All the of drone tops have had portions, or their whole length invisible whipped. The whipping prevents recurrences.  One crack in the middle bass piece had been secured closed by a wide silver band that went back before Greg’s days with the pipes. This has now been removed and the piece properly fixed.

    This is a lovely set that suffered some neglect and required TLC. But it brings with it a classic Henderson sound.

  • William Sinclair, silver and ivory, hallmarked 1957-58

    SOLD – This Sinclair set came to me in superb condition. The only work needed was to even out the four tuning chambers. There is one small chip on on projecting mount, visible in one of the photos below.

    The set displays a thistle pattern and every piece but one is hallmarked 1957-58, including the chanter sole. The exception is the silver mouthpiece sleeve, whihc is a different pattern and hallmarked 1963-64. The ivory mouthpiece bulb probably came with the sleeve. The silver sole now resides on a very old Hardie chanter which, along with the second-place Sinclair, was the chanter of the day when this bagpipe was made.

    I played a set of 1949 silver and ivory Sinclairs through the 1980s, winning with them the Gold Medal at Oban and the MSR at the Glenfiddich championship.  There were bold, bright and beautiful — quite cheery — and this set is just like them. Great tone, steadiness, and high manufacturing quality.


  • Lawries, hallmarked 1951-52, silver and ivory

    SOLD – This lovely Lawrie set was made in 1952 and has the hallmarks to prove it.

    The pipes came to me blemish-free, requiring only a polish and a rehemp.

    All pieces are original except for the mouthpiece bulb and silver sleeve. The bulb is imitation ivory and was made about a month ago. The silver sleeve came with the pipes, but the engraving pattern is not a match — not noticeable unless you look!

    The tone of this set was bold, resonant and steady. I played a piobaireachd on them and they were lovely.

  • Donald MacDonald, circa 1830s, cocuswood, marine ivory

    SOLD – This is the oldest and one of the most significant sets we’ve had on the site. Donald MacDonald made pipes from approximately 1800 until 1840 and his influences are still apparent today.

    This set was owned for many years by a piper in Victoria, British Columbia, who purchased them as a set of MacDougalls. Though the set was not stamped, the visuals checked out with known MacDonald sets, convincing at least three vintage bagpipe experts that these are indeed Donald MacDonald pipes.

    As might be expected of an instrument that is nearly 200 years old, there have been some repairs.  Invisible whipping has been done on the bass top, one tenor top, and the lower portion of the bass middle.

    All pieces appear to be original except for the blowpipe, which is a poly-lined replica with a nicely matching holly mount. The tenor rings appear to be elephant ivory, as does one bass projecting mount, and these are likely replacements.

    The tenor bottoms have at some point had brass sleeves installed, almost certainly to make the drones tune higher.

    Tonally, the drones are marvellous: quite robust, rich and steady.

    To see a video on this instrument and to hear it played in studio conditions, please click here.


  • Henry Starck, circa 1940, African blackwood, full ivory

    SOLD – Henry Starck was born to a German woodwind maker who immigrated to London around 1810. In the 1880s, the Queen’s Piper, William Ross, asked Henry Starck to make bagpipes for him. Starck did so, and then carried on its own pipemaking company, which lasted until 1962. Les Cowell, founder of David Naill and Company, trained and worked there for some years.

    This set was likely made in the early 1940s, beautifully turned in the distinctive beading style the company maintained through much of its time. At some point there was a small crack in the bass top that was poorly repaired, but this has been properly fixed and is not at all visible. The original Starck, ivory-soled chanter comes with the pipes, but is not pictured.

    The ivory is pristine save for one pepper-grain size nick in one drone stock ferrule.

    Tonally this set was booming:  voluminous and rich with my Canning reeds. This set is a visual and tonal treat.

  • David Glen, circa 1895, ebony & cocuswood, nickel, ivory caps

    SOLD – David Glen worked in the pipemaking business with his father Alexander beginning in his teens. Alexander was the brother of Thomas MacBean Glen, whose mid-19th-century pipemaking firm would eventually become J&R Glen.  Alexander’s shop became David Glen in 1873 when Alex died and David took over at the age of 23. Those were the two Glen firms operating in Edinburgh in the latter part of the century.

    David’s firm would produce a remarkable body of work before his death in 1916. David Glen would also become the most prolific publisher of pipe music in the history of the instrument.

    This is is a typical low-end David Glen offering:  button mounts, nickel ferrules and stylized ivory caps in a mix of cocuswood and ebony.  The set was in excellent shape on acquisition. A short crack in the bass mid-joint needed invisible whipping.  There are a couple of small dings in the wood, but nothing obvious. The finish is excellent.

    David Glen’s pipes play with a rich, steady, relatively quiet sound.  The are a great piobaireachd pipe and great for anyone not wishing an overpowering drone sound.


  • David Glen, circa 1890, ebony/cocuswood, ivory, German silver

    SOLD – I love the look of this set. It was likely made in the years around 1890 or a bit earlier, and it looks it.  The ivory is in great shape, and the metal mounts are classic German silver with almost a chrome-like appearance.

    The wood is a mix of ebony and cocuswood. These are two great musical woods, and mixing them was quite common in the day.

    The tuning chambers are lined with brass, another period trait, lending more credence to the idea that makers other than MacDougall used them.

    Typical of ebony, there were a couple of cracks. The blowstick stock and the bass mid-joint have both been invisible whipped their entire length. Those pieces will not crack again.

    Any doubt that these were other than David Glen were dispelled when I played them. It’s an extremely rich and steady drone sound, but slightly quieter than most sets of pipes. This is typical David.

    Not sure I’ve had a set of pipes on the site that looked more like an ‘antique’ than this set.

  • Lawries, circa WW1, ebony, nickel, modern imitation ivory caps

    SOLD – This set is thought to date to just before 1912, before Lawrie adopted their trademark tapered ferrules. The set is ebony, the ferrules nickel, and the caps are just about the best imitation ivory you’ll ever see.  The set is ivory-free. Projecting mounts are ebony.

    Being ebony, the pipes came with repaired cracks in two stocks: invisible whipping on the blowstick stock, and not-so-invisible whipping on one tenor stock. The wood overall in this set is lovely.

    The tone of this set blew me away:  big and bold as you’ll hear, but steady and with lots of chanter blend.


  • Henderson, Lawrie, Robertson frankenpipe, blackwood, cocus, ivory, engraved nickel

    SOLD – “Frankenpipe” is a term we use to describe a bagpipe that has been cobbled together from spare parts. It can be derogatory. This frankenpipe is an unusual example.

    It came from the estate of the late Bill Burnett, founder of Burnett’s & Struth Scottish Regalia in Barrie, Ontario, and this means something. Bill dealt in pipes and vintage pipes and he knew pipes well.  (I purchased from Bill the 1912 silver and ivory Hendersons I played through the 1990s.) Bill did not cobble together any old spare parts here. These were from premier makers.  Here is the ‘item list’ as far as I can determine:

    Bass: Robertson, except for mid-joint, which appears to be an old Lawrie
    Tenor 1: Lawrie
    Tenor 2: Henderson
    Stocks: Robertson, except chanter stock which is Lawrie or Henderson
    Blowstick: Robertson

    The Robertson bass top appears to be cocuswood or Brazilwood and has a rare “J. Robertson Edinburgh” stamp on two lines. One tenor top has a distinctive cocuswood appearance as well.

    The appearance and profiles of the pieces suggest most, if not all, were made in the years around 1930.

    As you might expect (or might not!) the set played beautifully. It locked into tune with a bold harmonious blend and filled the room nicely.

    This is not your standard frankenpipe.


  • Henderson, circa 1910, ebony, modern silver

    SOLD – This Henderson set is ebony and probably dates to around 1910. The caps are ivory, and the ferrules are thistle-engraved silver that was added to the set sometime in the last 20 years.  Sapwood shows in several places.

    The pipes are in fantastic shape, and this was one of the rare occasions that I’ve acquired an ebony pipe that didn’t require repair work. While one can’t be sure, the ivory match from the old ivory-soled chanter to the drone caps suggest the chanter may be original to the bagpipe. The pipes also come with a pristine Kron blackwood chanter with a silver sole matching the drone ferrules. Neither chanter has been carved. The Henderson chanter would not play well with today’s reeds, but it’s nice to have the complete bagpipe.

    The set played brilliantly — full and steady, with a refined richness typical of ebony.


  • Henderson, circa WW1, full ivory

    SOLD – This set came to me as an old Lawrie, but clearly had ‘P Henderson Ltd.’ stamped in each cord guide. The pipes were stripped and refinished. No cracks were found during this process. There are a couple of tiny dings on the rings, fairly normal for a pipe of this age. The wide projecting mounts suggest a manufacture date somewhere around the Great War. The blowstick may not be original.

    This Henderson set played wonderfully with my Canning reeds. Robust, great harmonics, and steady as a rock.  Play these on any stage at any level.


  • Center, circa 1900, blackwood, ivory, nickel

    SOLD -This set came to me as a John Center set. The styling and workmanship are superb; this pipe was made by an experienced maker.

    A crack in the bass top has been invisibly whipped. The set came with no blowstick stock, so a replica was made and a matching ferrule found. The blowstick has also been invisible whipped to seal a crack.

    The pipes displayed a very ‘mellow’ tone — rich, subdued, much in the Edinburgh tradition.  They locked nicely and maintained a gentle but resonant sound with my Canning drone reeds.  There is lots of character here and an elegant looking instrument with refined tone.


  • Kron, Heritage bores, silver and aged imitation ivory

    SOLD – This set was made by Dave Atherton at C. E. Kron in 2003. The bores are Kron’s ‘Heritage,’ copied from a 1912 silver and ivory Henderson. The profiles are not Heritage, and seem to more closely resemble the Kron standard set.  The pipes are unique in one way:  the previous owner sent them the the David Naill company in England to have their aged imitation ivory mounts replace the originals.  The effect is quite stunning.

    The pipes were in immaculate shape when I received them. They come with a Kron blackwood pipe chanter.

    I played the pipes for about 30 minutes with my Canning reeds and they locked in very steadily with a full, bright tone.


  • Lawries, silver and ivory, hallmarked 1951-52

    SOLD – This set of Lawries arrived in excellent condition. It needed no work, and still has its original finish as well as the original chanter sole.  The silver is hallmarked RGL 1951-52. Though the pipes made by the Lawrie company tailed off in quality in the late 1950s and 1960s, pipes made by the firm right up to the mid-1950s are revered for their tone and steadiness.

    As I played two piobaireachds on this set it displayed the robust, seamless tone I’ve come to expect from a vintage Lawrie.


  • Sinclair, silver and ivory, 1942, hallmarked 1946-47

    SOLD – This gorgeous Sinclair set had only one owner, and that was Keith MacDonald, “The Church Piper” and publisher of “Heavenly Harmonies.” Keith passed away earlier this year.

    Each plain silver piece is hallmarked 1946-47, and the ivory is in immaculate condition. Keith clearly took care of his pipes, and some buyer will benefit from that! The pipes were originally purchased through McHardy’s in Vancouver back in the day.  Keith’s notes on the pipe say he bought it in 1942. It’s possible that he had the silver added in the year it was hallmarked.

    The set had no cracks and required only a clean and polish on the lathe. Sinclair drones are full and bright and this set reminded me of the Sinclairs I played to win the Gold Medal at Inverness in 1985. Great blend and steadiness.


  • Lawries, silver and ivory, hallmarked 1952-53

    SOLD: This Lawrie set came to me in excellent condition, needing only some of its stylish tapered ferrules reaffixed. The silver is hallmarked 1952-53. Though the pipes made by the Lawrie company tailed off in quality in the late 1950s and 1960s, pipes made by the company right up to the mid-1950s are revered for their tone and steadiness.

    The pipes still have their original finish. The blowpipe stock is a poly-lined, blackwood replica with the original mount. The mouthpiece sleeve is non-hallmarked silver in the same pattern.

    The set displayed the robust, steady tone Lawries are known for and locked in seamlessly from the first tuning.


  • Henderson, hallmarked 1907-08, silver and ivory

    SOLD – This spectacular Henderson bagpipe is currently in Australia. It will be shipped to a buyer from there. The set is hallmarked 1907-8 and it is extraordinary. African blackwood with beautifully aged ivory mounts, this is the pinnacle of Hendersons. All parts are original but for the chanter, which is a 1969 Hardie with appropriately hallmarked silver sole. The mouthpiece bulb is ivory and the sleeve is hallmarked 1913. All hallmarks contain the “PH” maker stamp. The bagpipe is in mint condition with original finish.

    The tone of this instrument is reported to be as magnificent as its appearance. The best Hendersons are known for their power, their seamless bass/tenor blend, and their legendary steadiness. This instrument has it all.


  • Robertsons, full ivory, circa 1950s

    SOLD – This brilliant Robertson set came to me in excellent condition. We gave it what Rick Pettigrew at Dunbar Bagpipes now calls the “full McGillivray refurb”: basically a strip and refinish with a check for cracks after the strip. Any loose mounts are reaffixed and the tuning chambers are gently reamed to even up the tuning action.

    She cleaned up nicely: this may be one of the nicest full ivory Robertsons we’ve had on the site. It was made during what vintage expert Ron Bowen calls some of the best years of the Robertson company; the ivory patina is lovely, showing just the slightest aging. And the bagpipe played like a dream:  full, steady, seamless. This set comes with what appears to be its original chanter, not really playable with modern reeds, but nice to have.

    The stocks have tapered bores, a practice adopted by the company in the 1950s and thought to improve air flow to the drone reeds.

    James Robertson made pipes in Edinburgh from around 1908 until his death in 1948. The company continued with quality unabated until it ceased operations in the mid-1960s.

  • Robertsons, silver and ivory, hallmarked 1933-34

    SOLD – This complete Robertson set came to me in superb condition, requiring only a clean and polish on the lathe. The tuning chambers were gently reamed to recalibrate the tuning action, and the massive blowpipe was shortened by two inches.

    The 1933-34 hallmarks make it the oldest hallmarked Robertson set on this site, though we’ve had non-silver sets that were older.

    The set played as all Robertsons do: robust, seamless, and as steady as you might like.

    James Robertson made pipes in Edinburgh from around 1908 until his death in 1948. The company continued with quality unabated until it ceased operations in the mid-1960s.

  • Robertson, post-1950, full ivory

    SOLD – James Robertson’s company made pipes from around 1908 until the mid-1960s with never a drop in production values or tonal quality. Even after Robertson’s death in 1948, not only did the company maintain its quality but the pipes produced in the 1950s and ’60s were arguably the best the company ever made.

    This set is in excellent condition, still sporting its original finish. It’s difficult to date ivory Robertsons specifically, but this set is certainly from the 1950s-60s period. The set had no cracks and needed no repairs. The stocks, as visible in the photos, have tapered bores — a common trait in Robertsons from this period. This was said to ease air flow and reduce turbulence in the stocks.

    Like virtually all Robertsons I’ve ever played, these drones were robust, rich and steady with my Canning drone reeds. Robertsons are always a pleasure to play.

  • Robertson, circa 1920s, ebony, nickel, holly

    SOLD – The scribe lines in the middle of the nickel ferrules on this old Robertson bagpipe tell us it was made in the 1920s. The wood is ebony, quite visible by the wee channels and fissures noticeable in the wood.

    The set originally had casein caps, but this material deteriorates so the previous owner had it replaced with holly.

    The pipes were in very good shape at acquisition. One small crack on the heel of the chanter stock was repaired, and it’s possible the chanter stock is a blackwood replica with the original mount.  The finish on the set was excellent, needing only a polish. The blowpipe has had a thin brass or copper lining inserted into it at some point. The tuning chambers were reamed to even up their action.

    Robertson was one of the most consistent pipemakers of all time. The company’s reputation for tone and quality of manufacturing was exemplary, and this set is no exception.  It locked nicely into tune and stayed there, with a robust and seamless sound.


  • Henderson, circa 1920, cocuswood, ivory, silver slides

    SOLD – This gorgeous Henderson set is thought to date from around 1920. The wood is cocus. The drones are mounted in ivory. The engraved silver slides were added by a previous owner in 2008. A subsequent owner had the slides gold plated.

    The ivory stock ferrules have been replaced at some point by high-quality imitation ivory that is an excellent match for the rest of the set. The mouthpiece has matching imitation ivory and silver.  The chanter is thought to be the original Henderson chanter. The cord guides are all stamped “P. Henderson.”

    The blowstick had a previously repaired crack that we re-enforced. Aside from that, the set is in splendid condition. The tuning chambers were reamed to even up the tuning action. The set had been refinished some years ago and that finish is still pristine.

    The drones played beautifully for me. They tuned in the right places, they were robust, rich, and locked right into tune with my Canning drone reeds. It’s a special set.


  • Inveran, 2002, reclaimed silver and ivory

    SOLD – In the year 2000, master player Brian Donaldson took over the Inveran Bagpipes shop founded by Jimmy Tweedie, a firm now resident in the United States.

    This bagpipe was made by Brian Donaldson in 2002 using silver and ivory reclaimed from older sets. The ivory was taken from an early 1900s set — spider lines are clear on one of the bass projecting mounts. The ferrules and caps are silver, without hallmarks; the silver slides are hallmarked 2002. One tenor stock has been replaced using the original mount, and the blowpipe is a replacement with an imitation ivory mount. The top bass silver slide has some slight dents, and two of the stock ferrules have very slight splits in the seam that are stable.

    The pipes have been refinished and hairlines under some ferrules fixed and the pipes now look splendid.

    I played the drones for 10 minutes with my own Canning reeds and they were full, rock steady and showed great blend with the chanter.  This bagpipe would be comfortable on any stage or on any parade.


  • Center, circa 1908, German silver and ivory

    SOLD – John Center was a superb pipemaker (and photographer) who made pipes in Edinburgh from 1869 until 1908 before moving to Australia in that year. He died in 1913, but his son James (the subject of Willie Ross’s jig “Center’s Bonnet”) continued to run the business until his death from the Spanish flu in 1919. Pipes by the Centers are rare and distinctive both tonally and visually.

    The fact that this set is African blackwood suggests it was made after 1900 as blackwood was coming into wider use over ebony and cocuswood. It may have been made in Australia.

    The German may or may not be original to the set. The chanter stock looks distinctly like a Starck  replacement, with the German silver ferrule retrofitted over top of ivory. The blowstick is a poly-lined/blackwood replica. The blowstick stock is not original, and the matching ferrule is split but solid and stable. The imitation ivory mouthpiece bulb is mounted with a Sterling silver sleeve. The drones and drone stocks are all original. There is some staining on the tenor projecting mounts.

    The set was stripped and refinished; no cracks or hairlines were found.

    Tonally, the set is magic. It’s a bold, seamless sound that held rock steady as I tested the pipes for 10 minutes with my reeds.