Vintage Bagpipe Archive

Photos and descriptions of all instruments featured
since October 2010

  • 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.

  • 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 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.

     

  • Atherton MD, 2009, full imitation ivory

    SOLD – This 2009 Dave Atherton “MD” set is modelled after a Duncan MacDougall set owned by the late Roddy MacDonald, Deleware. It is African blackwood and full imitation ivory.

    Dave’s reputation as perhaps the premier modern pipemaker is well earned. His instruments are beautifully and meticulously crafted and display a bold and steady tone. Atherton pipes — in particular the MD — have been adopted by some of the world’s greatest pipers. The wood Dave used was exceptional, and these pipes are in demand.

    This set came to me unblemished but for a very small chip in the bass ring, visible in the photos. Tuning chambers were still perfect. It played exactly like my own set, remarkably steady, full, and with lots of harmonics.

    Some day this will be a premier vintage set. For now, it’s a premier modern set.

  • Lawrie, circa 1905, ebony, full ivory

    SOLD – This Lawrie set is thought to date to 1905, give or take a few years. The fact that it is ebony supports the early date. The set is mounted in full ivory.

    The pipes were stripped and a number of cracks and hairlines were found. These have all been invisible whipped and will give no more trouble. The blowstick stock is a poly-lined replica in blackwood with a mount that matches almost perfectly. The tuning chambers were evened up and the set was refinished.  The tuning slides were nickel and not in very good shape. These have been replaced by Sterling silver slides, hallmarked 2016. The odd tiny chip in the ivory, including a pea sized chip in one tenor ferrule, is pretty typical of a pipe of this age.

    The pipes played like a dream. Not quite as robust as blackwood, old ebony offers a steadiness and refinement of sound quite specific to that wood. These pipes locked in at first tuning and needed no touching up in the 10 minutes I played them. It was an inspired sound.

  • Henderson, circa 1915, full ivory

    SOLD – This is a tonally spectacular set of Hendersons, likely made in the years around 1915. At first glance this appeared to be cocuswood, but upon stripping the finish it was found to be African blackwood. The pipes are mounted in full ivory.

    All pieces are original. There were the beginnings of cracks in several places, but these have been invisible whipped. There were the beginnings of a couple of wormholes that were filled. None of these repairs is visible, and none of them will be problems again. The tuning chambers were evened out.

    I loved this set when I played it with my Canning drone reeds. It was robust, rock steady, tonally captivating, and the chanter just latched right onto the drone sound. This is a special set.

  • Robertson, Silver and ivory, hallmarked 1961

    SOLD – We had a set almost identical to this on the site a few weeks ago, hallmarked 1960-61. This set has pieces hallmarked 1959, 1960 and 1961, so clearly Robertson kept a large stock of ready-to-go engraved silver, and the pipes were probably made in 1961.

    The set was in great shape, requiring only a polish on the lathe and rehemping. One tenor lower projecting mount has a narrow crack that goes right through in the middle, but is quite secure around the edges, so it shouldn’t be a problem. The original ivory mouthpiece bulb was missing, so an imitation ivory bulb was made and fitted with the original silver sleeve.

    The stocks have tapered bores, a practice adopted by Robertson during this period.

    The pipes played boldly, brightly and steadily for me; the tenors tuned a bit low on the pins, but the drones showed great chanter blend.

  • Duncan MacDougall, circa 1890, ebony, marine ivory

    SOLD – Lovely MacDougalls like these come up periodically, and I’m always pleased when they do, because they are all good. It’s difficult to date Duncan MacDougall’s pipes from this period, but 10 years on either side of 1890 is probably accurate.  The three wide cord guides, the distinctive ferrules and the elegant projecting mounts combine to make this a classic example of Duncan’s work.

    The set came to me with some damage, almost all of it reparable. The only replacement pieces are the blowstick and blowstick stock. The stock is a poly-lined replacement with original mount; the blowstick is an old Glen with a Glen parrot’s beak mount and a copper sleeve in the bore. It’s a good match for the pipes. One stock ferrule has a crack that has been sealed and is visible in the photos. Being ebony of substantial age, there were a number of hairline and ‘beginner’ cracks in the sticks. We take no chances with ebony and these have been sealed and invisible whipped. One tenor projecting mount is not flush to the wood. Unfortunately even my reliable refurbishers at Dunbar Bagpipes could not get that mount loose, and that’s saying something. So the small gap visible in the pics is a permanent fixture.

    The pipes were completely stripped and refinished and the tuning chambers were evened out.

    The pipes played much like my own MacDougalls. They locked in with my Canning drone reeds and played me a seamless wall of sound for the 20 minutes I played them.

  • Robertson, silver and ivory, hallmarked 1960-61

    SOLD – This Robertson set displays the classic ‘mushroom’ ivory projecting mounts when they were most mushroom like, and it was made at a time when the Robertson company may have been at its best, 1960-61, as evidenced by the hallmark on each piece. The pipes needed no repairs, only a polish on the lathe. The tuning chambers were evened out.

    The pipes still have their original finish and there are no replacement or repaired wood or ivory pieces. The chanter, silver sole, mouthpiece bulb and silver sleeve are all original. The silver sleeve had split on the seam, but this has been resealed.

    The stocks are conically bored, meaning the bores are wider at the bottom than the top. Some makers believe this improves air flow to the drones for a steadier sound. Moisture control systems that insert into the bottoms of the stocks can’t be used with conically bored stocks.

    As I always am with Robertsons, I was taken with the rich, robust tone and extreme steadiness of these drones, which I played for 35 minutes, touching them up only twice after the initial tune-up. They were just lovely — as good as Robertsons get.

     

  • Alexander Glen circa 1860, ebony, marine ivory

    SOLD – This set came through the shop in 2018 and found its way back to me, as many sets do after some years of use. The description below was written then. The photos are new and the pipes were tested anew.

    “Alexander Glen began making pipes in Edinburgh around 1835 and continued until his death in 1873. His son David was perhaps the most famous Glen in this pipemaking dynasty that spanned more than 120 years, but Alex set the original standard for craftsmanship.

    “This remarkable set came to me almost complete, lacking only its blowpipe. The wood is ebony and the mounts are marine ivory — walrus — which was used widely in pipemaking during the 19th century. The pipes display the narrow profiles and mounts typical of Edinburgh pipemakers during this period.

    Alexander Glen with son David in their Edinburgh shop around 1870.

    “Unfortunately, the blowpipe stock and one tenor stock were cracked badly enough that it was best to make blackwood replicas. The blowpipe and blowpipe stock are poly-lined, with the projecting mount on the blowstick coming from an orphan tenor bottom in my collection that matched very well. A number of hairline cracks in the drone pieces were invisible whipped and will not recur. It would appear that one of the tenor bushings may have been replaced at some point in the distant past. The pipes have been completely refinished (2018).”

    The tone was sonorous, rich and steady, slightly fuller in sound than son David’s pipes.

    This is a lovely piece of antique history as well as a superb musical instrument.