Photos and descriptions of all instruments featured
since October 2010
Henderson, WW1, cocuswood, nickel and casein
This set of cocuswood Hendersons is tonally exceptional, to the point where I have enjoyed it myself for the past several months, giving my number one bagpipe a rest.
It was likely made in the years around WW1, perhaps a bit earlier. It has nickel ferrules and casein projecting mounts, ring caps and bushes. Unlike the chalky and discoloured casein we often see on old Robertson pipes, this material is white enough to be mistaken for modern imitation ivory. So the pipes are ivory-free and can be transported across borders without a certificate.
One piece of casein has a small brown discolouration on it, and the bead on one projecting mount has a tiny split that has been filled.
The blowstick was too badly cracked to repair so the projecting mount was installed onto a replica polypenco blowpipe.
The cord guides on both tenor drones are stamped “P Henderson.” Although there is no stamp on the bass drone, there is no doubt it is original to the pipes.
I was extremely impressed with the seamless, robust sound of these pipes and their exceptional steadiness.
R. U. Brown Hendersons, cocuswood, full ivory, circa WW1
This is one of the most historic and well authenticated bagpipes we have ever had on the Vintage page. Robert Urquhart Brown (aka R. U. Brown, Bob Brown) was one of the great players and piobaireachd authorities of the 20th century. A pupil of John MacDonald of Inverness and one of the famous “Bobs of Balmoral,” he made his living along with Robert Nicol as a gamekeeper and Royal Estate Piper at Balmoral Castle. He and Nicol are immortalized in the “Masters of Piobaireachd” CD series released some years ago. Very few taught as many great pipers as the Bobs.
This set of cocuswood Hendersons was owned by Bob Brown throughout his life and remained in the family afterwards until I purchased them about three years ago. The history of the pipes is documented in a letter written by Bob’s daughter that has been with the pipes since 2002. It reads, in part:
These bagpipes were the first bagpipes owned by my father, the late Pipe Major Robert Urquhart Brown, M.B.E. of Balmoral. He was piper to H.M. King George V, H.M. King George VI and H.M. Queen Elizabeth.
These bagpipes were a gift to him as a boy after winning the first major Piobaireachd competition he entered, which was the Argyllshire Gathering Junior Competition. Thereafter he played them for about 10 years until he won the Inverness Gold Medal Competition in 1928. He was then given a set of silver mounted bagpipes which he played until his death in 1972. These bagpipes have remained with the Brown family since then….
We don’t know if the pipes were new or not when Brown acquired them, but they are certainly WW1 or earlier.
I have played this set as my #1 bagpipe for the past three years, not just because it was Bob Brown’s bagpipe, but because it is one of the best sets of Hendersons I have ever played. I always said I would never sell it, but I’ve said that about other amazing instruments I have acquired, and when a new remarkable set comes up (this time a lovely full ivory Donald MacPhee set, circa 1870s) I pass the previous set on and get to know the new one. It’s a pattern I’m sure I will continue. I’m not one to hoard bagpipes.
No repairs were required to this set when I acquired them, and as far as I know the finish is original.
If it looks like it’s been played recently, that’s because it has. I removed the bag minutes before these photos were taken.
Robertson, silver and ivory, hallmarked 1954-55
This stunning set of Robertson pipes, mounted in Sterling silver and ivory, is hallmarked 1954-55.
It is in remarkable condition for a bagpipe made the year I was born — probably better condition than me. All pieces are original except for the mouthpiece bulb, which is new imitation ivory and an excellent match for the ivory on the pipes. The silver mouthpiece sleeve is original. Even the original hemp stops are still present on the four tuning pins.
The pipes were stripped and refinished and required two minor whippings under two of the silver stock ferrules where hairline cracks were just beginning.
I’m always raving about the remarkable consistency of Robertson pipes, both in terms of tone and manufacturing standards. This bagpipe is no exception. The tone is robust and the drones are steady and easy to reed. And the instrument is gorgeous.
This is as nice a Robertson set as we’ve ever had on the Vintage page.
Circa 1920 Robertson, ebony, nickel ferrules, artificial ivory ring caps
James Robertson was one of the most consistent makers ever. All Robertson pipes — even for the 20 years after his passing in 1948 — are superb. However, the sets made from around 1915 until 1925 were close to magical, especially the ebony sets.
This is one of those sets. The robust, rich and vibrant tone and steadiness of this ebony Robertson are absolutely exceptional.
The set originally had chalky casein tops. These have been replaced with artificial ivory that has a remarkably realistic grain. The nickel ferrules with the scribe line around the middle are typical of circa 1920s sets.
All pieces are original. The projecting mounts are ebony. The blowstick had a hairline crack down its length that has been invisible whipped and will give no further trouble. The projecting mount on the bass mid-joint broke in half in transit. This has been replaced by an excellent blackwood replica, virtually undetectable as a replacement.
This is a tonally exceptional set that would be comfortable on any stage.
R. G. Hardie, circa 1960, blackwood, full catalin, nickel stock slides
This is not the usual high-end vintage instrument this site is known for, but the set came as an add-on with a high-end set, so here it is, and at a great price.
Made by the R. G. Hardie company, likely around 1960, the set is blackwood, and the drones are mounted in catalin, an artificial ivory material that is resiliant and long-lasting but which turns pumpkin orange as time passes. It is not used any more. The stocks have nickel ferrules
Bob Hardie was one of the most successful bagpipe makers of all time and was renown for the quality of wood he used. I frequently find 70-year-old Hardie sets still crack-free, and with perfectly even tuning chambers. The drones are “mellow,” meaning they are not robust — quiet if you will — but rock steady, air-efficient and easy to reed. As such they are excellent starter sets, or sets for infrequent players who want steadiness and a pleasant hum rather than a booming buzz. The quality of the wood makes them nearly indestructible in any weather.
The finish is original, and as you can see from the photos, it is far from perfect up close. But the idea with this set is to keep the price low, so I have left them as I found them. One repair had to be made: the ring cap on the bass top was broken and had to be glued into place. It wasn’t a perfect fit, but the repair is solid and stable. You can see it in the caps photo.
I’m selling this set as sticks and stocks only, allowing the buyer to install less expensive accessories than I usually stock. However, if you want them set up to play, we can discuss this as well.
Circa 1920 Hendersons, ebony, full ivory
This lovely old Henderson set could be as early as WW1, and plays like a dream — steady, full and seamless in the classic Henderson tradition.
The pipes are in excellent shape with one unfortunate flaw: about 1/4 of the lower projecting mount on one tenor drone has been broken off. This clearly occurred a long time ago as the break is quite clean and worn fairly smooth. That is to say, it is noticeable, but far from obvious.
The wood was in excellent shape for 100-year-old ebony. There was one hairline crack under the ferrule on the chanter stock that has been repaired. A small split in the ivory ferrule on the chanter stock has also been filled. The tone on this set is as good as Hendersons get. The price reflects the flaw described above.
This is an excellent opportunity to get a classic Henderson set at an excellent price.
David Glen & Sons, circa 1910, cocuswood, nickel ferrules, new imitation ivory rings
These little button-mount cocuswood David Glen pipes are real gems: great character, rich and rock steady, and very light on the shoulder. This set originally had ivory caps, but they were replaced with artificial ivory with a very realisitc grain.
When I purchased these, it was with all parts original, but the chanter stock is a little ‘stockier’ than the tenor and blowstick stocks, and it is possible that this is an early replacements. Having said that, it appears to be cocuswood.
The pipes are in great shape and were recently stripped and refinished.
The fact that they are free of ivory makes them an idea travel pipe, or, as a good friend of mine calls them, ‘border pipes’!
Circa 1900 ebony Henderson, ivory with silver slides
I purchased this gem of a set as having been made in the 1920s, but my trusted refurbishers at Dunbar Bagpipes believe they are much closer to 1900. They are made of ebony, and mounted in ivory. The slides are silver, almost certainly a later addition. They are not hallmarked but but are stamped with two words: STERLING and SAW. If anyone can tell me what this refers to I would be happy to hear from you!
There were a number of hairline cracks here and there, but nothing that was visible until the finish was removed from the pipes. These cracks were easily fixed and should give no trouble again. The blowstick is a blackwood replica with the original mount. The blowstick stock is blackwood, lined with polypenco, made by Dunbar. The pipes have been refinished.
This is the second time I’ve had these pipes. I purchased them back from the previous customer who was downsizing to a less expensive set. The seller from whom I bought them some years ago had originally gotten them from Jim McIntosh in the 1980s.
Tonally, these pipes are top of the line classic Henderson — steady, rich, with a lovely bass and refined harmonics that only ebony can offer.
Robertson, circa 1940, full ivory
This is a classic James Robertson set made in Edinburgh, most likely in the years around 1940. The set was in excellent shape, needing only the finish polished, the tuning chambers reamed slightly to even them out, and one hairline under the blowstick stock ferrule invisible whipped.
There are some minor anomalies. One tenor drone stock appears not to be original. It is barely noticeable, and only in the combing. I suspect it’s from a different Robertson set. The chanter stock is a perfect match to the rest of the set, except that the ivory ferrule lacks the double scribe-line: again, barely noticeable. The blowstick stock may or may not be a replacement. Again, none of these is visible without very careful examination.
The tone of this set is pure Robertson. He is the most consistent pipemaker I know of tonally. Every single set sounds the same: full, bassy, rich and steady.
Kron Standard model, 1998, blackwood, plain Sterling silver, artificial ivory
This set came to me as a Kron Heritage set made in 2002, but feedback from customer has sent me back to rethink, and I believe now that it is the original Kron model made prior to the Heritage, which was developed in 2001. The chanter, #229, was made in 1998, and I suspect the pipes were made at this time as well.
The pipes were extremely well crafted, and this model was the standard configuration: plain Sterling silver ferrules and artificial ivory projecting mounts and ring caps. The tone is full and steady. This set is in virtually pristine condition, except for one rice-grain sized chip on one projecting mount.
This would be an excellent work-a-day set for a young competitive player, or an attractive, easy-to-reed and trouble-free pipe for a learner of any age. Another of these sets was sold on the site recently, though a later model.
2010 Reproduction of 1870s J&R Glen, McGillivray/Doucet
Back around 2008 I acquired a circa 1870s J&R Glen bagpipe in cocuswood with ivory mounts. It was one of the most stunning tonal instruments I’ve owned, and I played it for about three years.
In 2010, I began working with Thomas Doucet in Niagara Falls to create a reproduction. I was thrilled with the result. Most were made out of cocobola, similar in appearance to cocuswood.
We called the instrument, “The Edinburgh,” after the home town of the Glen families.
Only a couple of sets were made out of African blackwood, and this is one of them. The mounts are holly. The pipes were made in 2010 and appearances would suggest they have hardly been played. They look new.
Thomas and I moved on to other projects within a couple of years and production ceased, so only a limited number of The Edinburgh were made.
The robust J&R Glen tone of the 1800s was quite different from the more subdued David Glen pipe. This a bold and vibrant sound more reminiscent of Duncan MacDougall, and very steady. The style also makes them a very lightweight instrument on the shoulder.
I have three of these sets in my high school band and am always pleased with how good they sound and how steady they are. This bagpipe is an affordable little gem.
Circa 1900 Cocuswood Henderson, new artificial ivory mounts
This lovely cocuswood Henderson came to me with the ivory mounts badly chipped and broken, though the sticks were in fine shape. Profiles and mount shapes suggested a date of manufacture as early as the 1890s.
I had the damaged ivory replaced with Dunbar Bagpipes non-chip artificial ivory. The blowstick stock and chanter stock were cracked and required some invisible whipping. The blowstick was broken beyond repair and was replaced with a poly-lined blackwood blowstick.
Some readers might be familiar with the late John Kidd, an American whose knowledge of acoustics and skill at wooodworking led to his being in demand by pipers to make adjustments to their pipes to improve their tone and steadiness. John rounded out the ends of the tuning pins, rebored the stocks to a conical shape and made all bores perfectly parallel from the top to the bottom of each drone. His clients have included some top players who swear by his work. John’s touch is evident on this set.
The pipes display classic, bold Henderson tone and steadiness, suitable for pipers from the bottom to the top of the tree. I’m a big fan of cocuswood. Both of my personal Henderson sets are made of it.
This would make an ideal top-drawer travel set.
Robertson, circa 1960, engraved silver alloy, ivory
These Robertsons were purchased new sometime around 1960. They are in superb condition.
This set was owned by a gentleman whose wife owned a set of Robertsons as well with the same silver pattern. One of the sets was much older. At some point it’s possible that one or two of the stocks got switched around. The ferrule on one tenor stock is the same pattern, but much older, though the stock appears to be original. The bass stock is a Robertson, but with a tapered bore typical of older Robertsons. However, the ferrule on the bass is orignal to the set.
Suffice to say that all parts are Robertson and the set suffers no tonal or visual ill effects from the inadvertant switch!
One unusual characteristic about this set (and this may be more common than pipers think): while the set is not hallmarked, any piper would call this set “silver and ivory.” However, I had the silver professionally tested. Here are the results: Copper: 61.42%. Zinc: 22.95%. Nickel: 8.3%. Silver: 4.67%. Strontium: 2.7%. It is absolutely lovely material, as the photos show, with just enough silver to give it the remarkable sheen and the softness to take hand engraving.
The pipes were refinished about 3 years ago and all of the mounts are in immaculate condition. The pipes play with typically bold Robertson timbre — rich, steady and with a dominant bass sound.
This is really a gorgeous and exceptional pipe, free of cracks or blemishes, though missing the original engraved mouthpiece and ivory bulb.
Unknown ebony, circa pre-1890, ivory, nickel ferrules
SOLD – This is a really neat bagpipe. Tonally, it is one of the best instruments I’ve had in my hands in some time. The sound is huge and room-filling. When I put my own Ezeedrones into them and plugged the drones into my own stocks and with my own chanter, I tuned them and immediately played 4 minutes of 4/4 marches without the slightest wobble. They locked like they were digital — but with life and boldness.
They came to me as unknown, though educated guesses range, in order, from Henderson to early Lawrie to Donald MacPhee, the latter being Ron Bowen’s considered assessment. Certainly in the Glasgow tradition. The sticks are ebony and quite massive. The pipes are noticeably heavier than other such mounted pipes, confirming the amount of wood used, especially in the drone tops.
The ferrules are quite distincive — a bit in the old Robertson tradition — and may well be later additions. The lovely old ebony shows sapwood here and there, adding to the visual character. As with any 125-year-old ebony, there were a couple of hairline cracks. I take no chances and have all of these filled or whipped, whether they look threatening or not. This set needed no whipping. The two tenor stocks are quite noticeably different lengths. This is not uncommon among pre-1900 pipes of various makes (especially Glen), though no one is quite sure why. The bass bottom joint is worn almost smooth.
The set was stripped (which is how we find the wee hairlines) and refinished. The tuning chambers were reamed perfectly even.
A first-class set of pipes which may live out their lives unnamed.
Henderson, circa 1900, ebony, German silver and ivory
This old Henderson set could pass for silver and ivory, but is in fact German silver, a high quality precursor to what we now call nickel.
The wood is ebony. The pipes are beautifully made and the ivory is in excellent shape for its age, showing only a few spider lines here and there.
The set underwent a major refurbishment with hairline cracks, particularly under ferrules, in several pieces. All were invisible whipped.
Very few are visible except in one or two places where the browner shade of ebony couldn’t be perfectly matched on the bead. Invisible whipping is foolproof. Those cracks will not reopen.
Two of the five stocks are not originals. The drone stocks are all original, the chanter and blowstick stocks are replicas with the original mounts affixed. The ivory projecting mount on the blowstick was replaced with a matching Henderson mount. You would not know it isn’t original. The set was refinished.
The pipes display a fabulous, ebony Henderson tone, full but refined in a way only ebony can offer. The drones are steady, vibrant, full of blend, and tune in the right places.
This pipe could be played at any level.
Lawrie, circa 1905, ebony, silver and ivory
SOLD – This is one of the earliest silver and ivory Lawries we’ve had on the site in a long time. All of the pieces are original except for the blowpipe, which is a poly replica with internal valve and the original mount. The chanter is an old Hardie fitted with the original engraved silver sole. The blowpipe bulb is modern polypenco, and the sleeve is engraved nickel. The blowpipe mount has aged more than the rest of the ivory, but does appear to be original. I suspect an owner at some point used a different blowpipe and stored the original in a damp place. One lower projecting mount has a rice-grain-sized chip.
The set was dated by the previous owner, and external evidence and profiles support a date that could indeed be as early as 1905.
As with any 100+ year old ebony, there were three or four hairline crack on the outside of the wood. None threatened any of the pieces, but I prefer to have all of these sealed or invisible whipped as required. No whipping was needed on this set.
It should be noted that this style of Lawrie bagpipe with engraved, tapered, metal ferrules, are usually called “silver and ivory.” In fact, the silver is plating only. But Lawrie executed the best plating I’ve ever seen. Even after years of terrible tarnishing on the mountes of an unplayed pipes, these buff up to a gorgeous sheen.
The drones are a tonal masterpiece — big, bold and steady. This is a prize set.
Lawrie, circa 1915, full ivory
This beautiful set of Lawries were sold to me as Hendersons. It comes from the Great War era when Lawries and Hendersons were quite similar in appearance, but especially in tone. Vintage Lawries and Hendersons have always had very similar tonal characteristics, but it is no surprise to me that the previous owner pegged these as Henderson.
It is one of the loveliest ivory sets we’ve had here in a while, both visually and tonally. The pipes are seamless and rich in quality, with a bass that cradles the whole bagpipe. The ivory patina is quite stunning and the pipes are a visual treat.
There were hairline surface cracks in one tenor top, the bass mid-joint and two of the stocks, but these have been sealed and are undetectable. Two of the ivory ferrules had open cracks. These have been sealed, though the difficulty of matching ivory patina means they are visible.
The ivory bushing from one one of the tenors was missing, but I had a perfect match in my box if miscellaneous bits, and you would be hard-pressed to detect the difference. One tenor ring has a small chip out of it: pretty standard with a set of this age.
This Lawrie set is really a classic from the golden age of pipemaking in Glasgow.
Suspected MacDougall, circa 1850s, ebony, full ivory, brass lined
I love this set. It is one of the oldest and most distinctive we’ve had on the site.
I acquired them as MacDougall, and other opinions support this. Having said that, they are not exactly like any other MacDougall set I’ve ever seen. They may be too early for Duncan, and may be his father John’s, though the possibility of them being made by Thomas MacBean Glen — easily an equal maker — has also been raised.
The set is brass lined and very MacDougall-like in tonal character. I’ve played them for the last three months, and am taken with every aspect of them.
As is usually the case with brass-lined ebony, there were some cracks adjacent to the brass. These have been invisible whipped and will never be trouble again. The set came without stocks. By pure coincidence, several days after I purchased this set a friend approached me about a box of parts that contained one complete set of stocks — ebony and from likely the same period. They were a near perfect match for the pipes.
The blowstick is a poly-lined blackwood replica. The set has been stripped and refinished.
Though the identity of this set may not be positive, there is no doubt they are the exquisite product of a high-end mid-19th century maker.
Henderson, circa 1912, blackwood, ivory, nickel
This is one of several Henderson sets of this vintage to appear on the site in recent months, though the seamed ferrules on this set suggested they might be earlier than the 1920s. Additional information provided recently by a reader who has seen an identical set with the same bass stock engravings suggest they were made prior to the Great War and spent time overseas during the war with the 236th Battallion in New Brunswick.
The pipes were in fantastic shape, requiring only a polish on the lathe. The blowstick was missing completely, so a poly-lined blackwood replica was made and a perfectly matching Henderson ivory blowpie mount was found in my stock of “otherwise useless” parts.
The tuning chambers were a bit uneven, so they have been gently reamed to perfection, and of course the set was rehemped.
An inscription on the ferrule of the bass drone stock reads, “Donated by Miss Louisa F. Murray, Douglas Avenue, St. John.” There is a number “16” inscribed on the chanter stock ferrule.
There is nothing more to be said about this set. It is a top-drawer, vintage Henderson bagpipe: steady, rich and full, easy to reed, with a big, solid sounding bass.
Hamish Moore Scottish Smallpipe in key of D, circa 2004
Hamish Moore is well known as one of the great makers and revivalists of the Scottish smallpipe. His pipes are played around the world by perhaps the majority of top smallpipe players.
This bellowsblown set is in the key of D. It was made around 2004. It is made in blackwood with cocobola ferrules. The common stock is hallmarked Sterling silver, so I suspect the ferrules are silver as well, though too small and troublesome to hallmark.
I’ve owned this set for a number of years and had great pleasure out of it. Because of the extreme winters in Ontario I’ve sometimes found Hamish’s cane reeds finicky. Recently I sent this bagpipe to John Walsh in Antogonish, Nova Scotia, a great smallpipe maker in his own right, and had John reed it with his plastic reeds. This has made the smallpipe totally steady and reliable, even when my Ontario relative humidity is at 15%. The chanter reed is slightly higher pressure than most smallpipe reeds, so has great volume.
The set does not come with a bellows. You’ll need to provide that yourself! This would be a great set for someone who may already own a bellowsblown set in A and wants to expand their horizons!
David Glen, circa 1900, cocuswood, nickel
David Glen cocuswood pipes like this circa 1900 set can be a visual delight. The tone is extremely rich, with great locking ability and chanter blend. Glen pipes do not generally give a booming drone sound but are steady and subtle. This set has great character both tonally and visually.
These pipes were on the site a few years ago with visible external whipping on the tenor tops. This has now been augmented to invisible whipping. While it’s impossible to hide the whipped combings completely given the variations in cocuswood colouring, the overall effect is excellent, as seen in the photos of the tenor tops.
The blowpipe stock was badly cracked, so a poly-lined cocobolo replica was made. In all other respects the set is in great shape.
The chanter actually plays quite nicely, albeit at a very low pitch. The ivory sole suggests it is not original to the pipes, though it is a more than suitable match. The pipes themselves are free of ivory.
Thow, circa 1910, ebony, ivory, German silver
Kudos to my friend Ron Bowen for identifying this set as Thow of Dundee. Once he gave me the lead I was able to match up the style of projecting mount with a documented 1909 silver and ivory Thow set I sold a few years ago. This set lacks the iconic Thow scribe line on the cord guide, but, as Ron reminded me, Thow “was all over the map” stylistically.
This is a beautifully made bagpipe with lovely overall aesthetics. The pipes were purchased from an estate dealer. Other items in the estate were a hat badge and sash belonging to a warrant officer in the Highland Cyclist Battalion 1908-1918, as well as some literature with connections to the Clan MacRae Pipe Band.
The only notable fault is that the ring caps appear not to be original, though the German silver matches that on the rest of the pipes. The ivory bush inside one of the tenor caps is set slightly askew. The cap could not be removed to fix this without risking damage. Given that this would have no effect on the sound, it was decided to leave it as is.
As is often the case with old ebony pipes, there were slight hairline cracks under a number of the metal ferrules. Though no immediate threat, these can spread years down the road, so the ferrules were removed, the tenons whipped, and the ferrules reaffixed. The mouthpiece bulb doesn’t appear to be ivory, and the mouthpiece is almost certainly not original to the pipes. The set will be shipped with this mouthpiece as well as a standard plastic mouthpiece.
The pipes were stripped and refinished and the tuning chambers were reamed slightly to even out the tuning action.
Tonally, this set is much like the 1909 silver and ivory set previously mentioned: full, steady, and with a great blend with the chanter, unlike some Thows I’ve had that can be quite mellow. The sound reminded me a great deal of a Sinclair set I played during my competitive years in the 1980s, though the set is certainly not Sinclair. I like this bagpipe a lot.
R. G. Hardie, 1970-71, hallmarked engraved Sterling silver, ivory
The original R. G. Hardie firm in Glasgow was the most successful pipemaking company during the 1960s and early 1970s. A great player and pipe major, Bob Hardie’s standards were high. The company used superb, well-seasoned wood, and the pipes were steady and easy to reed.
This set came to me in excellent condition. It is common to see hairline cracks begin to form beneath ferrules due to the pressures of swelling hemp. They can be found in most pipes. I prefer to have these fixed to circumvent future trouble, and two such pests were whipped under the ferrules on this set. Aside from that, the pipes were simply cleaned and polished on the lathe and rehemped.
Hardie pipes are sought in many circles for their mellower tone. They are not bold like Hendersons, but they are just as steady. This set fits that pattern and comes with all original pieces, including the chanter, engraved sole, and ivory mouthpiece bulb and silver sleeve. In truth, while it’s nice to have, a 1970 Hardie chanter can be difficult to reed. But it can be done if you’re a fan of the 1960s pitch.
This is a beautiful set in great condition, perfect for a hobbyist who has always longed for a sparkling and steady high-end bagpipe.
Lawrie, circa 1905, ebony, ivory, nickel
This is one of the oldest Lawries to appear on this site, thought to have been made within a few years of 1900-1905. They are ebony, with ivory projecting mounts and ring caps, and high quality nickel ferrules, Required repairs were relatively few given the age and the wood.
One tenor stock and the tuning pin of the bass middle joint required some invisible whipping to seal hairlines. The blowstick was invisible whipped its entire length. None of these repairs will ever again reopen, such is the effectiveness of invisible whipping. The bead on one projecting mount has a small chip. The finish that was on the set was in fine shape, so the entire set was simply put on the lathe and polished. The nickel in particular came out beautifully.
The set is typical vintage, ebony Lawrie: the drones locked in immeidately with my Ezeedrone set. The bass tuned quite low, as most Lawrie and Henderson of this vintage do. (Some folk think this is problematic; it is not. You want your tenors to tune high. Low-tuning bass is common, perfectly fine, and free of roaring strike-ins.) The tone was full, rich and seamless.
For someone looking for classic, vintage tone at an affordable price, you would do well to consider this set. These old mid-range Lawries in ebony are every bit as good as their expensive silver and ivory cousins!
Cocuswood, possible Glen, circa 1920s, nickel, artificial ivory
The make of this stunning cocuswood set is a bit of a puzzle, but the caps, tone, wood and workmanship suggest David Glen, sometime after 1920. The wide beads between the combing sections are unlike Glen, and other thoughts range from Henderson to MacRae. The tone is first class cocuswood: rich, buzzy and steady.
The set came with catalin rings on the drone tops, thought to be a later addition. These had turned the usual pumpkin orange, and I had Dunbar Bagpipes replace them with non-chip artificial ivory.
The set also had came with no stocks. Replica stocks have been made from cocobola, and I found superbly matching nickel ferrules from my collection of parts. The cocobola is an excellent match to the original cocuswood, almost undetecatable as replacements.
The bass mid-joint had a hairline crack running an inch or two up from the ferrule, but this has been invisible whipped and you would never guess it was there.
Tonally speaking, this bagpipe is exceptional, and the work is clearly that of a high-end maker. The appearance in person is stunning.
The price is reflective of the unknown make and replacement parts, but not of the tone!
Thow, 1893, cocuswood and ebony, full ivory, presentation set
“Presented to Piper Charles Dunbar by Major Campbell, 1st Seaforth High’rs, in remembrance of good piping, good conduct and good fellowship, during the years of 91, 92, 93, at Fort George.”
Thus reads the silver shield that was affixed to the chanter stock of this presentation set of Thows. Charles Dunbar (1870-1939) was a prize-winning Halkirk native, Seaforth Highlander and Gordon Highlander, a Boer war and WW1 veteran, who emigrated to Canada and served for many years as Pipe Major of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in Hamilton, Ontario.
The pipes are certainly Thow, showing the scribe line on each cord guide distinctive to that company. One would expect the pipes were made the year they were presented, though it is also possible that they were Dunbar’s regimental set and he was simply allowed to keep them along with the shield when he left the Seaforths for the Gordons in 1893.
The pipes have obviously seen long usage. Both tenor drone stocks are new blackwood replicas with the original ivory ferrules affixed. The blowstick stock is a new poly-lined blackwood stock with the original mount. The chanter stock appears to be an earlier replacement, though pin marks indicated clearly that the shield had been affixed there. The blowpipe is a new, poly-lined, blackwood replacment as well.
The tone of the pipes can best be described as “mellow,” in the Glen tradition: steady and rich, benefiting from the mix of early woods: all three drone bottoms are cocuswood, the rest of the pieces are ebony, but for the replacement stocks.
Henderson, circa 1920, blackwood, nickel, ivory
This set adds to the plethora of lovely old Henderson pipes that have appeared here in the last couple of months. The set is blackwood, and while it was purchased as a 1930s set, the seamed ferrules and dinner-plate style chanter sole suggest 1920 or even earlier.
The pipes are in fantastic condition. No cracks were found in the wood, and the finish was in fine shape, so the pipes were just put on the lathe and polished.
There is spider cracking on some of the projecting mounts — another sign of advanced age. The cracking is fairly pronounced on one tenor projecting mount (visible in photos) but the mount is solid and stable and should remain so without a serious knock. There are a couple of inconspicuous chips in the ivory rings that are normal for a set of this age.
The tone on the set is top-drawer vintage Henderson. The drones all tune in the proper positions, the tuning chambers are smooth and even, and the pipes are full, rich and seamless, with a superb chanter blend.
While it’s nice to have the original chanter with the pipes, an early 20th century Henderson chanter would probably not fare well at the Glenfiddich Piping Championship — but the pipes would!
Kron Heritage, 2004, artificial ivory, plain silver
The Kron Heritage was created in around 2001 using my own 1912 silver and ivory Hendersons as a model. C. E. Kron in Dobbs Ferry, New York, developed the model, which was made by then Kron employee Dave Atherton. Charley Kron ceased producing this model a few years later after Dave left the company.
The pipes were extremely well crafted, and this model was the standard configuration: plain silver ferrules and artificial ivory projecting mounts and ring caps. The tone is full and steady in the Henderson tradition. This set is in virtually pristine condition. There are a couple of slight scratches on the chanter stock, but aside from that they look like they have hardly been used. The chanter is the original chanter that came with the set, a Kron Medallist, #776.
This would be an excellent work-a-day set for a young competitive player, or an attractive, easy-to-reed and trouble-free pipe for a learner of any age.
David Glen, circa 1900, cocuswood, nickel, ivory
SOLD -This is a great old Glen set is well priced because it are visibly whipped in several places. It was purchased from this site several years ago and has now been repurchased after several years of playing by the owner.
They are cocuswood, with button mounts, nickel ferrules and ivory rings. The bass middle joint is not original to the set, but it is a Glen of the same era in ebony and matches the set perfectly. The tone of this set is classic Glen cocuswood — not booming, but ample, very rich, and really, really steady. The set has been owned and played by several good competition players over the past few years who have since moved onto higher-end sets.
The whipping is external, and locations can be seen in the photos. This work was done several years ago before the refurbisher developed the invisible whipping technique. The whipping is quite apparent up close. As a result, I was able to acquire the pipes for a very good price and am selling them for a price that might work for someone who can’t afford some of the other sets here.
The set plays really well and, in typical Glen fashion, is easy to reed.
There are two blowsticks — they match, and one is longer than the other. One may be a blackwood reproduction.
Alexander Glen, 1865 Presentation set, ebony, ivory
This presentation set of Alexander Glen pipes, was presented to Archibald Forbes as winner of the piobaireachd at Perth Highland Games in 1865. Alex Glen judged the contest. Duncan MacDougall was another judge on the day — both leading pipemakers of the time. The set was acquired by an Ontario piper in 1984 and played in leading Grade 1 bands trom then until 2014. They were played in the 78th Fraser Highlanders for many years in the late 1980s and 1990s. Research on the set includes the newspaper report of the contest from the Perthshire Courier.
Alexander Glen made pipes in Edinburgh from 1833 until his death in 1873. His son David continued to run the business, which thrived for another century. Alex and David were foremost pipemakers of the time, and modern makers still marvel at the quality of their work. The set has been well used, but the integrity and history of the instrument have survived.
The shield reads, “Perth Hi. Society; 1st Prize for Pibroch to Arch Forbes, Aug 26 1865.”
Made in ebony, with marine ivory mounts, the pipes had numerous cracks when they were acquired, though they continued to play well. In 2002 the previous owner undertook a partial restoration by having brass sleeves inserted into all of the tuning chambers and several other bores as well. This work was done beautifully in a traditional style. I had Dunbar Bagpipes strip the pipes, fill all visible cracks, refinish all of the wood and rehemp the joints. Only the blowpipe is a replacement piece with the original projecting mount, about a quarter of which has at some point been broken off and worn smooth. A small piece is broken off the upper bass projecting mount as well.
The chanter, though not playable, is original and shows the A. Glen Edinburgh stamp.
The pipes are steady, rich, and mellow in the Glen tradition, quite the antithesis of full-volume Hendersons. This is a lovely historic relic and a proven top-level instrument