Photos and descriptions of all instruments featured
since October 2010
Robertson, full ivory, circa 1930s
SOLD – We’ve had a few Robertson pipes on the site recently. This set appears to date from the 1930s, perhaps the early part of that decade. The mushroom mounts are more subdued and as close to a ‘standard’ look as Robertson ever got. The ferrules are long with a small bead, and the double scribe lines have migrated from the middle of the ferrule in the 1920s to the bottom in the 1930s.
The set came to me with some minor hairline cracks under ferrules. These were fixed and will cause no more trouble. The bass mid-joint came with a brass sleeve in the tuning chamber, likely to counter a small crack which has now been addressed with invisible whipping. The set has been stripped and refinished. It comes with what is most likely the original chanter, though a 100-year-old chanter is more a curiosity than something you would play.
These pipes played beautifully with my reeds and chanter in typical Robertson fashion — full, rich and steady.
James Robertson made pipes in Edinburgh as early as 1908. He died in 1948 but the high tonal and manufacturing standard he set was maintained until the company ceased operations in 1965.
Robertson, silver and ivory, hallmarked 1947-48
SOLD – James Robertson made pipes in Edinburgh as early as 1908. He died in 1948 but the high tonal and manufacturing standard he set was maintained until the company ceased operations in 1965.
This is a classic silver and ivory Robertson, with every piece hallmarked 1947-48 except for the mouthpiece tube, which is matching hand-engraved nickel alloy on an imitation ivory bulb.
The set arrived in excellent shape — including the original chanter and sole. The finish was well worn, so the pipes underwent a full strip-and-refinish. This uncovered hairline cracks in the bass top, chanter stock and blowpipe which have been invisible whipped and will not cause trouble. As might be expected of a 73-year-old set, the wood has a few nicks here and there, and the ivory a bit of staining and spider cracking, but the set is solid and ready for another 70 more years.
The drones played like so many other great Robertson sets I’ve known: steady, rich and bold. Robertsons are vastly underrated pipes by a vintage piping population intent on Hendersons. They should be seen more regularly at the highest levels.
Grainger and Campbell, silver and ivory, hallmarked 1973-74
SOLD – We have two sets of Grainger and Campbell silver and ivory pipes on the set at present, and they are nearly twins.
The Grainger and Campbell pipemaking company operated in Glasgow beginning in 1946. In 1952 they took over the premises and machinery from the defunct Duncan MacRae firm. They made bagpipes of excellent quality until the company closed in 1989.
This silver and ivory set is hallmarked 1973-74 on every piece.
The set is in superb condition, requiring only a good polishing on the lathe and re-truing a couple of the tuning chambers. The original Grainger chanter is still with the pipes. But the original silver sole has been affixed to a Naill blackwood chanter. I don’t know the vintage of the chanter, but I believe it is quite modern. It plays very well. The original Grainger chanter would have played well in it day, though it would be low-pitched in today’s piping world and difficult to reed.
The set also has its original silver and ivory mouthpiece.
As expected, the drones on this set were robust and very steady, locking into tune nicely with my Canning drone reeds.
Hallmarked 1968-69 William Sinclair, engraved silver and ivory
SOLD – The William Sinclair and Sons company of Leith goes down as one of the leading modern pipemakers. The company began making pipes around 1930 and appears to have closed down as of last year with the death of the last Sinclair son.
This set came to me from its second owner, who acquired it from his cousin. Made in blackwood and mounted in engraved silver and ivory, the set is hallmarked 1968-69.
The original and well weathered lacquer finish was removed, and the sticks were checked for cracks and then refinished in the usual oil and wax. One small crack appeared at the top end of the blowstick, and this was invisible whipped. The ring caps have numerous slight dents, visible up close, but inconspicuous.
The original Sinclair chanter and sole remain with the pipes.
True to Sinclair pipes, the set had a bright and full tone, steady and sonorous. I played a set of silver and ivory Sinclairs through much of my competing days, so it was a familiar cheerful sound to me.
Circa 1890 David Glen, cocuswood, ivory, nickel
SOLD – This elegant David Glen set was likely made in the years around 1890. The sticks are slightly heavier that later David Glen pipes.
The set is made of lovely dark Caribbean cocuswood, with ivory projecting mounts and nickel ferrules. The tuning chambers are lined with brass, not an uncommon practice with several pipemakers during the latter half of the 19th century. A long crack was visible running upward from the ferrule on the bass mid-joint. This has been sealed, though its shadow is still visible. The rest of the pipe is immaculate after a strip-and-refinish. The set comes with a David Glen chanter, though there is no guarantee that it is original to the pipes.
David Glen made pipes from 1873 until his death in 1916. While the tone of most of his pipes might be described as very rich and subdued, this set has a fuller tone, though equally rich and wonderfully steady.
This set locked into a groove very quickly and stayed there with my set of Canning reeds.
J & R Glen half-size set, circa 1900-1930, African blackwood, full ivory mounts
SOLD – This is a true half-sized set, not one of the more common three-quarter (more like 7/8th) sized sets we often see. In the past, these have been given to children to play. More commonly today they are set up to go in Bb to play with other instruments or by itself. This set appears to be from J & R Glen, as stamped on the chanter. The vintage was more difficult to determine and could range anywhere between 1900 and 1930
This set is being sold as it came to me and is priced appropriately. The instrument is in good condition but for a couple of chips in one ferrule (visible in the photos). The hide bag is tight, the original chanter has been reeded, and a box of cane drone reeds as well as a brand new and appropriately sized set of Ezeedrone reeds are included. I have not played the set-up instrument.
The set comes with what may well be the original wooden box, including original key.
J & R Glen, circa 1900, cocuswood, nickel ferrules and rings
SOLD – This set came to me as a David Glen, but with some help from one of my trusted vintage experts we’ve determined it is in fact J & R Glen. John and Robert Glen were the sons of Thomas Glen, the first pipemaker in the Glen family, brother of Alex, uncle of David. Made of cocuswood and with button mounts and nickel ferrules and rings, these pipes are thought to date to 1900 or a few years later.
Unlike David Glen pipes, J & R sets play a bit more robustly, though the richness and chanter blend they produce is a joy. This set was steady and lively with my current Canning drone reeds.
These pipes had already undergone a refurbishment when I acquired them. I discovered a small crack in the blowstick stock, which has been invisible whipped.
Robertson, silver and ivory, hallmarked 1952-53
SOLD – This James Robertson set came to me in beautiful condition, but for a worn finish. The pipes were stripped, checked for cracks (none), and refinished.
Silver and ivory Robertsons are not uncommon, but those with each piece hallmarked are rare. The hallmarks on this set state 1952-53.
James Robertson’s company was just about the most consistent pipemaker I know: high manufacturing standards, and a full, steady tone through decades and decades of pipemaking, even after James passed in 1948.
This set played beautifully with my set of Canning drone reeds.
Email me about this set.
Henderson, circa 1915, ebony & blackwood, full ivory
SOLD – This gorgeous set of Hendersons came to me covered with a thick coat of inky material and varnish. I had no idea what kind of wood they were. Once stripped though, they were revealed to be a gorgeous Henderson bagpipe with African blackwood stocks and ebony drones. The profiles and mix of woods suggest a manufacturing period between 1910 and 1920. During the transition to blackwood, makers commonly mixed woods. This particular one is a clever mix, since blackwood is a more resilient wood and better suited to stocks than is ebony.
Hairline cracks were repaired in the blowpipe stock and chanter stock as well as one tenor stock. The bagpipe was refinished. There are a few spider lines in the ivory, and some yellowing on two of the stock ferrules.
The drones played as I expected they would, with the classic, bold and seamless Henderson sound becoming apparent as I pulled the middle tenor into tune and the pipes locked.
Play these on any stage in the world, or enjoy them in your own piping room.
Henderson, silver and ivory, hallmarked 1915-16
These don’t come around very often.
This great old set of Hendersons came to me as is. I knew the previous owner, what he thought of these pipes and how well he took care of them. They are a gem.
I recall that he had the pipes refurbished at some point in the not-too-distant past, so after a polish on the lathe they looked pristine. I think the blowstick stock and chanter stock have had some excellent invisible whipping done on them, but it’s hard to be certain.
A few spider lines on the ivory projecting mounts and the 1915-16 hallmark attest to the age of these pipes.
Unlike some Hendersons from this era, the cord guides aren’t stamped with the maker’s name, nor does the silver show the PH (Peter Henderson) maker’s name. But between myself and Ron Bowen — who is the foremost Henderson expert I know — we are confident that these are Hendersons.
The pipes played beautifully when tried by myself and another professional piper, each using our own reeds.
Grainger and Campbell, silver and ivory, hallmarked 1969-70
SOLD – The Grainger and Campbell pipemaking company operated in Glasgow beginning in 1946. In 1952 they took over the premises and machinery from the defunct Duncan MacRae firm. They made bagpipes of excellent quality until the company closed in 1989.
This silver and ivory Grainger and Campbell set is hallmarked 1969-70 on every piece. The pipes were originally selected by Donald MacLeod — part owner of the Grainger firm along with John MacFadyen — for the late Geoff Neigh, brother of the more famous Ed, and a good friend of mine. I well remember Geoff playing this set in the old Guelph Pipe Band in the 1970s.
The set is in superb condition, requiring a good polishing on the lathe, and the reaffixing of a couple of the mounts. The blowstick stock had a hairline crack near the mount that has been invisible whipped. The original Grainger chanter is still with the pipes. These chanters played very well in their day, though they would be low-pitched in today’s piping world. The set also has its original silver and ivory mouthpiece.
Interestingly, the set has had modifications made to it by the late John Kidd. John believed that square edges in the bores created turbulence that affected the steadiness of pipes detrimentally. He rounded off the tops of the tuning pins and tapered the bottoms of the stocks to ease the flow of air. A surprising number of sets of pipes are around that show John’s work. Geoff Neigh swore by the modifications, saying that the pipes had never been steadier than after the Kidd treatment.
As expected, the drones on this set were full and very steady, locking into tune nicely with my Canning drone reeds.
R. G. Lawrie, circa 1930s, imitation ivory, nickel slides
SOLD – This set of blackwood Lawries was likely made in the 1930s. It is blackwood, with imitation ivory mounts and nickel slides. The pipes underwent a refurbishment that included and strip-and-refinish not too many years ago, so it was in great shape when I acquired it.
The drones have a typically robust Lawrie sound and immediately locked into tune with my Canning drone reeds. It was a lovely sound. The chanter appears to be original, but these old Lawrie chanters weren’t particularly tuneful, and it should likely not be played.
This is a well-priced, classic Lawrie set with a tone that would stand up beautifully on any stage.
Northumbrian Smallpipes in F by David Burleigh
SOLD – Many a budding Northumbrian smallpipe player got their start on a reconditioned David Burleigh set just like this.
Burleigh numbered all of his sets, and this one is numbered 2,999. This F set was put into playing condition two years ago, still plays very well. The bellows was acquired from Colin Ross in 2001 (they aren’t original to the set). The pipes are African blackwood with brass keys and metalwork. The mounts are imitation ivory.
Northumbrian Smallpipes in D by Richard and Anita Evans
SOLD – This isn’t the usual offering one expects on a GHB site, but it IS a bagpipe, and a very nice one.
This set of Northumbrian smallpipes in the key of D was made by the firm of Richard and Anita Evans, who recently retired from making pipes. The set has an 11-key chanter and five drones, each with a tuning bead. The set also comes with an Evans Scottish Smallpipe chanter in D, with a high B key. The drones will play with either chanter. The pipes are in great condition, with excellent Evans drone reeds. Each chanter has a reed, but they are past their lifespan and should be replaced. Though retired, the Evans will still make reeds for their pipes.
The pipes are African blackwood with imitation ivory mounts. Keys and other metalwork are silver-plated brass.
The set does not come with a bellows.
Full-silver William Sinclair & Son, hallmarked 1966
SOLD – This stunning set came from an estate sale where it had never been played. It was originally purchased by a gentlemen who had never had a lesson and who, it would appear, never played them either. The pipes came to me without a mark on the wood or silver. The finish you see in the photos is the original, unblemished finish. This is essentially a brand new, 1966 full-silver Sinclair bagpipe.
This brief history comes from a letter to the Sinclair company from the owner and the return letter from Alistair Sinclair, both included with the pipes. The owner makes it clear that he always wanted a bagpipe but knows nothing about how to play. He asks for instructions. The reply offers basic blowing instruction, a tutor book, a practice chanter and a tin of seasoning. There is no further correspondence.
The pipes come with the original Sinclair chanter and matching silver sole as well as the original, good-as-new case with the Sinclair stamp on the inside of the lid.
The pipes required the re-affixing of many of the mounts, a polish, a shortening of the blowstick, rehemping and oiling.
They played like a dream. I played Sinclair pipes for 10 years at the height of my competitive career and loved the full, bright sound of the drones.
Lawries, circa 1920, nickel, ivory mounts
SOLD – This set had only one owner, who brought the pipes with him when he emigrated from Aberdeen, Scotland to the Canadian midwest in 1920 when he was 20.
The pipes are R. G. Lawrie, and the appearance, plus the above evidence, date the set from the years around 1920. The pipes are mounted in ivory and nickel — tapered ferrules, as Lawrie was wont to do.
The blowstick and blowstick stock were beyond repair and have been replaced with poly-lined, blackwood replicas. One tenor top had a small crack. Unfortunately, due to thin wood at that point in the drone, it had to be externally rather than internally whipped, and this is visible in the photos. The pipes have been stripped and refinished and since they haven’t been played since the 1980s, extra care has been taken in oiling.
Tonally, these pipes are typical Lawrie from this era: extremely robust and very steady, locking in nicely with my current set of Canning drone reeds.
Circa 1920s Lawrie, silver, imitation ivory
SOLD – This set came to me about a year and a half ago and has been my personal set for the past few months. They came to me as hallmarked 1926 Hendersons; however, this is not what they were at all. They were clearly Lawries, and while the pipes certainly had every indication of being from the 1920s — including the superb tone — the silver was neither PH hallmarked nor 1926. Only the slides are hallmarked, and as far as I can tell from the date stamp in the hallmark, the silver slides are from 1983. The rest of the silver may have been installed at the same time, but this is not certain.
The pipes are blackwood and the projecting mounts are new imitation ivory installed some months ago to replace ivory which was aging badly. Why did I play these pipes as my own set for some months? Because the tone was brilliant: a big drone sound that blended beautifully with the chanter. I couldn’t resist making them mine for a while.
The set was stripped and refinished during its initial refurbishment. All evidence points to this being a brilliant early Lawrie set, with silver added later.
Atherton MD, MacDougall bores, 2009, nickel, imitation ivory
SOLD – his Dave Atherton MD was made in 2009 or a little before. Dave Atherton models his MacDougall reproduction after a set of brilliant 1870s cocuswood Duncan MacDougall pipes that had been owned by Roddy MacDonald from Wilmington, Delaware. The craftsmanship and tone of these pipes as a modern-made instrument are beyond compare.
This set is in mint condition but for one chip on one projecting mount. The chip has been glued nicely back in place and the repair is almost invisible. The blowstick and blowstick stock are polypenco. The drone and chanter stock bores are all tapered, a technique Atherton has used periodically in keeping with the theory that the tapering reduces turbulence for steadier air flow.
As an aside, this set was played in seven winning bands across four grades at the North American Championship in Maxville and was played in an army pipe band in recent years during tours of Vimy, Dieppe, Juno Beach, and the battlefields of the Italian campaign.
R. G. Lawrie, circa 1920s, African blackwood, imitation ivory
SOLD – This Lawrie set is in excellent condition for its age. All pieces are original, and needed no work was needed other than to polish them up on the lathe.
The set comes with its original chanter, though old Lawrie chanters were not particularly good and this is not a chanter you would wish to play. However, it supports the historical integrity of the instrument.
Tonally the drones are steady and rich, though slightly flatter than some Lawries, tuning slightly lower than usual on the tuning pins. The set is ivory-free.
David Glen, circa 1870s, ebony, ivory
SOLD — This is a fairly early David Glen set, made in ebony, and mounted in full ivory, likely during David’s early years in the 1870s. The projecting mounts are smaller that in later sets, and more rounded, in the style of David’s father Alexander.
As is usual with 140-year-old ebony, there were some cracks under ferrules that extended up into the pieces. These have been invisible whipped and will be stable going forward. The two bass tuning pins are fitted with copper sleeves. These may have been added later, but chances are the entire set was originally sleeved and at some point the tenor sleeves were removed.
The set had come to the previous owner with no stocks. He asked David Naill & Co. to create replica stocks out of blackwood and fit them with aged imitation ivory that would match the original ivory on the pipes as closely as possible. The result is remarkably accurate.
All other pieces are original, except for the blowpipe, which is a replica with it’s original ivory mount.
The pipes play in typically David Glen fashion: slightly subdued and with extreme steadiness and a rich blend with the chanter.
Henderson, 1910, ebony, hallmarked Sterling silver slides
SOLD – This unusual Henderson set came to me with Sterling silver slides hallmarked PH 1910. The pipes are ebony. All pieces are original except for the blowpipe, which is a Lawrie, and a good match for the set.
In typical fashion for ebony, the pipes had some minor hairline cracking under the ferrules. These are not officially “cracks”, but they can become cracks, so we invisible whip all of these under the ferrules.
One tenor drone was tuning quite low and had a problematic double tone. After careful measurements by Rick Pettigrew at Dunbar Bagpipes, it was determined the tuning chamber in the tenor top was slightly larger than optimal — perhaps a previous refurb had over-bored the joint in an effort to even out the tuning chamber. A blackwood sleeve was made and installed into that bore to make it identical to the other tenor.
The finished pipes played absolutely beautifully with my Kinnaird Edge drone reeds. They locked into tune immediately and displayed the classic rich, seamless and robust sound you would expect from an old Henderson set in ebony. Quite remarkable steadiness, and great blend with the chanter, and superb work by Dunbar Bagpipes.
Duncan MacDougall, circa 1890s, ebony, full ivory
SOLD — This ebony MacDougall set is difficult to date, but probably originated in Duncan MacDougall’s shop in the 1890s. Duncan liked customers to come to the shop to order a bagpipe, and it was there that customers probably chose minor tweaks to their instruments. The Edinburgh-style cut beads on the projecting mounts on this set are a likely example, as Duncan rarely did this.
The set was in such good shape when I acquired it that I was convinced it had replacement pieces, but in fact all pieces are original ebony except for the blowstick and blowstick stock. The ferrule on the bass top might be a replacement, but if so, it is a perfect ivory replica.
The bass bottom was cracked and required invisible whipping. A number of ferrules had the usual tiny cracks in the tenons that come with age, and these were whipped under the ferrules to prevent future cracking.
The set came with what looked like old Robertson slides that didn’t suit the pipes at all and impeded the tuning chambers, so these were replaced with plain Sterling silver slides hallmarked 2016.
The set played in typical MacDougall fashion: robust but not booming, very steady, and with a sonorous bass sound.
Email me about this set.
As shown, sticks only
CAD $6,950 plus shipping
Set up to play by Jim McGillivray with Ross or Bannatyne bag, polypenco chanter of choice, Ezeedrone drone reeds, Highland Gear bag cover, plain coloured silk drone cords, plastic chanter cap. (To add Ross or Bannatyne Canister system and Ross valve/watertrap, add CAD $165) (For an African Blackwood chanter instead of polypenco, request add-on price.)
CAD $7,695 plus shipping
Robertson, circa 1930s/40s, polished casein, engraved nickel
SOLD – This is a rare Robertson set with non-ivory (casein) mounts that have been polished and have not deteriorated into a gray, chalky material. The engraved nickel mounts were added at some point in the recent past.
The set had some hairline cracks in a couple of pieces that have been invisible whipped so that they would not spread. The stocks don’t appear to be original to the set. The are extremely well made, are almost certainly Starck stocks. All match but for the blowpipe stock, which also is a recent replacement. The blowstick itself was missing, so a polypenco replica was made and a matching casein mount found and installed. At least a couple of drone pieces could be Brazilwood, a wood frequently used by James Robertson. The casein shows numerous spider lines but all mounts are solid.
The set locked into tune immediately with my Kinnaird Edge drone reeds, and the sound was robust and steady within seconds. In terms of manufacturing standards and sound, Robertson was the most consistent maker I know of through the entire life of the company; materials may differ, but the quality of work and sound is always exemplary.
Henderson, circa 1915, cocuswood, nickel, ivory
SOLD — We’ve had quite a number of cocuswood Hendersons on the site over the years, but few in such great shape. Cocuswood is stupendous for pipes and it is sad that it is no longer available in instrument-grade. The use of cocuswood, along with the profiles of this set, indicate a manufacturing date likely within five years either way of the Great War.
The set needed no work but for re-truing of the tenor tuning chambers and reaffixing of the nickel ferrules. The colouring is sublime and the ivory and nickel are in lovely condition.
Tonally, these pipes are premier: robust and steady, with a seamless overall blend typical of the great Henderson sets.
This set would make any piper happy, from the serious hobbyist to a Gold Medal contender.
Starck, circa 1930s, ivory, engraved German silver
SOLD – The Starck firm began business in the early 19th century as a woodwind maker. In 1889, Henry Starck was convinced by William Ross, the Queen’s piper, to make bagpipes. The firm made absolutely superb instruments, and many of the pre-1950s sets are as good as those of any other maker.
This set is thought to date into the 1930s. It is blackwood, mounted in full ivory, and has engraved German silver slides. German silver is the name given to a widely used alloy of the time similar to today’s nickel.
The pipes are in excellent condition and required invisible whipping only along a hairline crack in the blowstick. The finish needed only polishing and appears to be original. There are some small, filled cracks in the ivory mount of the blowpipe stock.
I tested this set along with two sets of Hendersons and was impressed by the fact that it was easily as good as the Hendersons in terms of steadiness, richness, blend, volume and proper tuning positions. This is a superb set of pipes.
R. G. Lawrie, full silver, hallmarked 1965
SOLD — Full silver pipes of any kind are uncommon. If they happen to be Lawries: bonus.
This set is hallmarked with “RGL” silver on each piece, and the date is 1964-65. All pieces are original.
One tenor stock and one tenor top had hairline cracks that have been repaired invisibly. The finish on the pipes was in good shape. I prefer to leave pipes as original as possible if I possibly can, so the pipes were not refinished. The blowpipe has at some point had a copper insert installed and a crack repaired and this has held up well.
Note that the dark blotches appearing on the ring cap silver in a couple of the photos are reflections from my lights, not blemishes.
Tonally the set is full and steady, tuning up quickly with my current Kinnaird Edge drone reeds.
If you long for a head-turning set with good tone and a quality name like Lawrie for a reasonable price, you won’t do better than this one!
Henderson, cocuswood, circa 1916, remounted in engraved silver, imitation ivory
SOLD – This cocuswood Henderson set is stamped in the cord guides. It came to me mounted in nickel and casein. The wood and profiles suggest a manufacturing date within a few years of the Great War.
The casein was not in good shape so it was decided to remount the entire set in imitation ivory and Sterling silver engraved in Ancient Celtic by Truehand engraving. The pipes came out beautifully after refinishing and the cocuswood gives them a lovely burgundy hue.
They played beautifully from the first blow, locking into tune in the correct tuning positions and filling the room with a classic, bold, seamless Henderson sound.
Lawries, circa 1915, ebony, imitation ivory ferrules, caps
SOLD – This set came to me with the imitation ivory mounts added. The stocks are replica Lawrie stocks, except for the chanter stock, with came from a different set and is mounted in holly. The blowpipe is also a replica.
The drones are all original, and the projecting mounts are ebony or African blackwood. Some hairline cracks have been repaired pro-actively to prevent later troubles. When these pictures were taken I had lost the chanter stock and took the photos with a replacement. The original has since been found — it had rolled off the worktable and into a Kleenex box on the end table….
Tonally this set is extraordinary: very full, very steady, and with superb chanter blend. This ivory-free set would sound great on any stage.
Donald MacPhee, circa 1876, ebony, full ivory, nickel slides
SOLD – This set immediately struck me as a Donald MacPhee set when I first saw it two years ago. I sent photos of it to Ron Bowen. By a remarkable coincidence, he just happened to have a set of pipes in his possession that had its original 1876 bill of sale from Donald MacPhee’s shop in Glasgow. The two sets of pipes were identical in every respect. The chanter that is with the set is a very old Henderson, probably made early in the life on the Henderson shop. Of course, Donald MacPhee’s shop became the Peter Henderson shop when MacPhee died at 37 in 1880.
I’ve been playing this set as my primary bagpipe for the past year. As I tend to do, I’m moving on to a different set that has come into my collection. This MacPhee set is robust, steady, rich, and has an excellent blend with the drones. I have enjoyed playing it immensely. I just noticed a small crack in the blowpipe stock. This will be invisible whipped and will never be a problem again.
The set was refinished a year ago.
This is a first-class set from one of the great figures in piping history.
Circa 1910 MacRae, nickel, ivory
SOLD – The Duncan MacRae firm made pipes in Glasgow from 1897 to 1952. One of their patented innovations was the “hempless slide.” This is a nickel tuning slide sheath with grooves cut near the top that can be sprung slightly to act just like a hemped tuning slide. Most of them lose their shape after some decades and folks have them cut short in favour of a hemped tenon. Some forward-thinking soul was smart with this set and left the upper bass slide “hempless” as original. It is quite firm and perfect for the bass upper. There is no telltale patent number on any of the nickel slides, suggesting the pipes were made around the time or before the patent was approved. Patent-numbered slides give 1909 as the date of the patent. The use of blackwood would suggest a manufacturing date later in the first decade of the last century.
Another distinctive MacRae feature of this set are slightly different bore measurements between the two tenor drone tops.
This set has typical, beaded MacRae nickel and ivory mounts. The tone is also typically MacRae: boomingly robust and steady, locking in nicely with my Kinnaird Edge reeds. The set was polished, but not stripped and refinished. A crack was invisible-whipped under one tenor stock. A slight separation in one ivory ring was filled. There is a little-fingernail-sized chip in one projecting mount.
MacRae has become a popular name in recent years, and every MacRae bagpipe I have through the shop confirms for me why.