Photos and descriptions of all instruments featured
since October 2010
Circa 1950s Robertson, full ivory
James Robertson’s Edinburgh pipemaking company is the most consistently superb pipemaker I know of. From the firm’s founding in 1908, through Robertson’s death in 1948, right to the company’s dissolution in 1967, the quality of the instruments remained consistently high, especially tonally. While I test every set of pipes I offer, I’ve often thought that Robertson is the one make I could actually send out without testing and be fully confident of what my customer receives.
As expected, the tone of this set was full, rich and steady. I removed a set of Ezeedrone reeds from my vintage Henderson set, plugged these drones into the stocks with the same reeds and they locked into tune after 10 seconds of tuning. Typically lovely.
While all drone pieces are original, the set has several compromises. Two tenor stocks and the chanter stock are not original, but the visual match aside from the scribe lines and bead size is excellent. The blowpipe is also not original, but the poly-lined replica and imitation ivory mount made by Dunbar Bagpipes is superb.
The ivory shows signs of a well used set, with some minor chipping and staining here and there. Overall, though, this is a solid and toneful Robertson bagpipe, priced to reflect the slight deficiences.
Henderson, circa 1905, cocuswod, full ivory
This remarkable turn-of-the-century Henderson set is in superb shape for its age. It is made in very dark cocuswood — only apparent when the pipes were stripped for refinishing — and mounted in full ivory. The ivory is remarkably white for a set of pipes 110 years old, almost as though the pipes were in dark storage for decades.
The only flaw is a few greenish stains in the ivory, likely from long contact with a bag cover. Some of these are apparent in the photos.
The only refurb the set required was stripping and refinishing. They have been played off and on by the previous owner over the last 15 years. The tone is really high-end vintage Henderson of the quality that could win any piping competition on the planet: full, seamless, rich, and with a bass sound that cradles the whole bagpipe.
David Glen, circa 1890s, cocuswood, nickel, ivory, with original practice chanter
David Glen pipes can be visual gems. This set is made in lovely, striped cocuswood, with ivory projecting mounts and rings, and nickel ferrules.
When the bagpipe was acquired, the bass ring and one tenor ring were missing. Fortunately, in my stock of parts I had almost identical rings from cocuswood Glens of the same era, so these have been added. Photos show that the patina is slightly different on the bass.
The chanter stock and one tenor stock each had a hairline crack, so these were invisible whipped and will not trouble anyone again. There is a small chunk of wood broken off of the bass cord guide. I believe it is visible in one of the photos.
The tone of these pipes is extremely rich and surprisingly full for Glens — almost as fully as an ebony Henderson set. The chanter blend was magnificent.
This set also came with a mint condition David Glen practice chanter that plays beautifully. Hard to say if it was purchased with the set, but it certainly is a perfect match.
This is quite a stunning and distinctive set of pipes, both tonally and visually.
Stamped William Ross (Queen’s Piper), in ebony, full ivory, brass inserts
This is another rare and remarkable set sold on this site some years ago to an owner who for personal reasons is downsizing his collection.
William Ross was a monumental piping figure during the latter half of the 19th-century. He was born in 1823, and died in 1891, having held the position of Queen’s Piper to Queen Victoria since Angus Mackay’s death in 1854. His 1869 publication of piobaireachd and light music, called “Pipe Music” is one of the most significant collections of the century.
The exact history of his pipemaking business is not clear. He was a very clever businessman and well-to-do. Jeannie Campbell tells us he made the prize pipe at Inverness from 1873 to 1886. Whether he was a turner himself or not we aren’t sure, but later on he hired turners to make his pipes for him. From about 1880 onwards, he used Henry Starck, whose family had immigrated to London from Germany many years earlier. This would mark the beginning of the Starck pipemaking business, and the pipes made by the company for the next 30 years would be their best.
After Ross’s death, Starck would stamp his pipes “H. Starck/late W. Ross.” It is thought that sets stamped only “W. Ross” were the earliest, perhaps even turned while Ross was actively involved in the business.
Starck and Ross were meticulous about stamping instruments, often in several places, and this set is stamped “W. Ross” on each stock. The distinctive projecting mounts are typical of Starck’s later wide shapes, though shallower and using a softer, rounded bead rather than the straight cut bead he would use later on. This styling may well have originated with Ross. The tuning chambers have brass slides installed. One drone ferrule has a narrow split that was filled during the orignal restoration some years ago.
All pieces appear to be original, though the blowstick was missing. A new poly-lined blackwood blowstick has been made using an old, matching Starck mount. The chanter with this set a Brian Donaldson chanter with an original W. Ross ivory sole. The original chanter stick was damaged beyond repair. (Note that these photos are the original photoset, and the chanter is not the same, though the sole is.)
The set had several cracks, only two of which required whipping. Kudos to Dunbar Bagpipe Maker for a remarkable restoration of this instrument, which now should have another 100 years of life left in it.
The tone of this set is typical of the earliest Starcks: big, robust and buzzy: very much a MacDougall sound. They are as steady as a rock and a joy to play and behold.
Lawries, circa 1950, silver and ivory
This set of Lawries is in prime condition and was likely made around 1950.
These pipes came to me in excellent shape. They have been stripped and refinished. A tiny hairline crack was found just around the ferrule on one tenor drone stock and this has been sealed. The blowpipe was bored out to provide a restriction-free modern bore. The original ivory bulb was not present — these crack with moisture and rarely survive — but the engraved metal sleeve was, so the sleeve was fitted to an imitation ivory bulb.
This Lawrie set displays a classic, seamless, steady Lawrie sound that ranks with the best of this make. The set comes with the original chanter and sole. In truth, Lawrie chanters were never among the best made, but it is good to know that the set was cared for well enough that the original chanter is still present along with the sole.
Robertson, circa 1954, full ivory
Robertsons continue to be one of the most popular makes on this site. Their consistency in tone and manufacturing standards is legendary, and their distinctive look makes them a sought-after legacy set.
This set is all-original and in superb condition. The original finish has been left as is. There are a few stains on the ivory. One stain on the middle tenor ring cap is green from long storage contact with a bag cover. It is visible in some of the photos.
The set had one owner and was reportedly purchased new in Edinburgh in 1954.
As with all Robertsons that have appeared on this site, the tone is full, rich and steady. With the exception of the blowstick being rebored to modern wide-bore standards, some wear on the finish, and the stains mentioned above, this classic 1950s Robertson bagpipe is exactly as it was when purchased.
Henderson, circa 1910, blackwood, full ivory
This is a classic, old, full-ivory Henderson with character that matches its age. It is one of the older Hendersons to be on the site in a while. The profiles, ivory patina and pattern of spider lines in the ivory suggest pre-Great War, 1910 or so. That they are blackwood suggests they are not much earlier than that or they would likely be ebony or couswood.
There have been a number of minor repairs. Hairlines under ferrules are common in old pipes (even in newer ones!), but we take no chances and have these whipped. There were four such repairs here. There was small opening — perhaps just a cut actually — in the shoulder of the bass middle joint which was filled. The blowpipe stock was invisible whipped. The chanter stock was missing, so a blackwood replica was made and a period Henderson mount installed. One ivory ring crack on a tenor top was filled.
An odd repair was needed on the bass stock. A shield had evidently been placed there at some point, and a gouge was made in the stock to seat the shield flush. This was filled and recombed. It is just visible in the stocks photo.
This is a beautifully toned set: the rich, full, steady, seamless Henderson sound of the early part of the century is very apparent.
R. G. Hardie, hallmarked 1950 Silver and Ivory
This rare set of R. G. Hardie pipes was made the year the company was founded in 1950, and the engraved silver is hallmarked accordingly. The pipes had one owner who bought them new, though they have been in possession of the his son, unplayed since the original owner’s passing.
The set was well used during its playing career in both Scotland and Canada, but is still in superb shape. The wood and finish are in excellent condition and required only polishing on the lathe.
The blowstick and blowstick stock were missing and had been replaced with poly pieces and the original mounts. These have now been replaced with a brand new poly-lined blowstick and stock with the original mounts retained. The blowpipe bulb is new artificial ivory with the original engraved silver sleeve. The bottom projecting mount on one tenor bottom has a rice-grain sized nick.
Bob Hardie (who would have turned this set) was renown for using well-aged, high quality blackwood. His pipes are best described as “mellow,” not as full as a Henderson or Lawrie, but steady and easy to reed and tune.
While there is no original chanter with this set, I’m quite confident I could provide at added cost an engraved silver sole from my stock that would match the silver pattern, minus the hallmark.
David Glen, circa 1900, cocuswood, ivory caps, nickel ferrules
This is a classic button-mount turn-of-the-century David Glen set in cocuswood. The stocks look distinctly unlike cocuswood. The sapwood showing on the chanter stock suggests they might be ebony. Back in the early 1900s it wasn’t unsual for makers to mix woods like this, but I’ve never seen a cocuswood Glen set with stocks that weren’t cocuswood. They might be replacements, but certainly made in the Glen style, if not by the company itself.
The pipes are in superb shape, the only visible flaw being some orange staining on the ivory rings of the tenor drones, partly visible in the photos.
In typical Glen fashion, the tone is subdued but rich with the vibrant nature of cocuswood. They are rock steady and easy to reed and tune. The pipes appear to have been refinished at some point fairly recently.
Grainger and Campbell, hallmarked 1962-63 silver and ivory
The Grainger & Campbell shop opened in Glasgow in 1946 and later took over the Duncan MacRae shop on Argyll Street when that firm closed in 1952. The great piper John MacFadyen became a partner in the 1950s, and Donald MacLeod joined the shop in 1962. As a result, the company was making some of the finest pipes available through the 1960s and 1970s.
This set is hallmarked 1962-63, made during the company’s tonal prime, and is in superb condition with all original pieces, including the original chanter and sole, and ivory mouthpiece bulb and silver sleeve. The pipes required no major refurbishment. They were cleaned and polished on the lathe, the blowstick was shortened and bored larger, and the tuning chambers were slightly reamed to even-up the tuning action. The silver pattern is gorgeous, and typical of the company.
The drones are full and very steady. I know a number of professional-level players who purchased sets like this new in the 1960s and never found reason to change.
The chanter is quite low-pitched, as one might expect, but still plays well. The set spent most of its life with one owner, a former 48th Highlander. The last owner had them for four years and decided to pass them along after having rarely played them.
Circa 1890s David Glen, cocuswood, full ivory, brass slides, stamped
Full ivory David Glen pipes are not common. These sticks are cocuswood – David Glen’s favourite wood. The previous owner of this pipe lived in a dry climate in the US, and after he acquired the instrument several of the ivory ferrules cracked. He worked with an ivory conservator and made quite expert repairs that have held firmly now for many years.
The bass drone stock and the blowpipe also cracked. He inserted a marine glue that remains malleable after it dries, and these repairs have never moved. He also inserted a thin brass tube into the blowstick to further reinforce it. The repairs are visible, but not obivous, and since they have remained stable for decades they have not been altered.
The tuning chambers have brass slides, a fairly common practice for David Glen.
The David Glen stamp is barely visible on each of the tuning pins.
Glen was a meticulous craftsman, and his manufacturing standards were very consistent. As a result, it can be difficult to date his pipes. The age of the ivory and the fact that these pipes are cocuswood suggest that they were made prior to 1900.
David Glen drones are really a treat, and if you’re looking for a reliable and remarkably steady set of drones with a rich, buzzy, but not overwhelming tone, you can’t go wrong with them. They are easy to reed and blend superbly with the chanter. It’s a bright, cheerful drone sound.
These pipes required no additional restoration work.
This set was purchased from this site a few years ago and have come back from a player who has decided to downsize his collection. This is the original listing, but the pipes are exactly ths same. I don’t believe they were played much.
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 1920-1930, ebony, full ivory
This old Henderson set is in prime shape. All pieces are original, with no cracks or repairs. It looks like one tenor bushing has been replaced with celluloid. The ivory shows some minor staining here and there, but is undamaged but for one small nick in the chanter stock ferrule.
The set is ebony, the tuning slides are perfectly even and the set is really primo vintage Henderson.
The pipes were purchased from Jim McIntosh in the early 1980s as a circa 1920-1930 set. They were purchased from this site a few years ago and have come back from a player who has decided to downsize his collection. This is the original listing, but the pipes are exactly ths same. I don’t believe they were played much.
The wood was refinished when the pipes were first offered here.
Henderson, circa 1930, ebony, full ivory
This old Henderson set was sold here a number of years ago and has been repurchased from the buyer, who is selling for personal reasons.
It is in lovely shape, both visually and tonally. The set is ebony, with ivory mounts, and the drones are rock steady, robust and seamless in the Henderson tradition.
All pieces are original, and the only visual flaws are some very tiny chips in the ivory that are quite normal in a set of this age.
There was a tiny hairline crack in one tenor top, and another in one tenor stock — pretty typical of old ebony. I don’t like to take any chances with ebony, so these have been invisible whipped and you’d be hard-pressed to tell from the photos where the work was done.
The age of the set has been estimated to be around 1930 by the shapes of the projecting mounts, the use of ebony, and the appearance of a “PH” stamp below the cord guide rather than a “P. Henderson” stamp inside the cord guides. The pipes have aged well. These photos were taken when the pipes were refinished several years ago. The finish is still in excellent shape, though not as pristine as it appears here.
One added feature of this set not pictured: Henderson bass drones tend to tune quite low on the tuning pin. This is not something that has ever bothered me. However, the previous owner had a matching bass piece made with holly mounts and a narrower bore that allows the mid-joint to tune higher on the pin. Both the original and the new piece come with the set, so you can decide which one you wish to play! The previous owner also provided with the pipes a McCallum MCC2 chanter with a matching antique ivory sole.
These are classic ivory Hendersons that will perform well at any level.
Duncan MacRae, circa 1930, cocuswood and ebony, nickel and ivory
Duncan MacRae sets don’t come up very often. The company made pipes in Glasgow from 1897 until 1952. The great piper Willie Gray worked closely with the firm for many years, helping them introduce numerous innovations, including hempless metal tuning slides. Many such sets were subsequently converted to hemp but, as with this set, the patent marks and dates (1929) remain on the slides.
This set appears to be a mix of ebony and cocuswood. The ivory projecting mounts are narrow and beautifully styled. Some of the nickel shows dents, including one tenor drone ferrule. Hairline cracks were sealed in the bass stock and two drone tenons — preventative measures only.
The blowstick stock appears to be a blackwood replacement. It is possible that the bass top is a replacement as well. The two tenor tops are visibly different in external diameter, but such inconsistences were not uncommon with MacRae pipes. McCallum Bagpipes recently decided to maintain a similar inconsistency in their reproduction of Stuart McCallum’s silver and ivory MacRae set.
This is the first MacRae set I have ever played, and I was quite struck by the remarkable tone — very full, engaging and stready. This set is a rare and distinctive find. both visually and tonally.
Henderson, hallmarked 1950-51, silver and ivory
Here is a lovely set of silver and ivory Hendersons with a gorgeous silver pattern hallmarked PH 1950-51.
All pieces are original except for the blowpipe, which was missing. The new blowpipe is poly-lined to prevent cracking and the mount is an old ivory Henderson mount taken from some old drone pieces, nearly a perfect match for the set.
The set required no major repairs. Two small hairlines under the ferrule of the bass drone stock have been sealed and are quite invisible. The original finish has been left as is. The set was professionally cleaned and polished on a lathe.
The tone is full, rich and steady. In typical Henderson fashion, the drones are very easy to reed. This great old set would suit any piper at any level, from street-band player to top competitor.
MacDougall, suspected Gavin, circa 1905, full ivory, plated brass slides
This set is certainly MacDougall, but estimates of its exact age have ranged from early Duncan, circa 1860s, to late Gavin, circa 1910. Several experiened pipers think that it is a Gavin MacDougall set from around 1905, and I tend to concur. Nonetheless, what appear to be two-piece projecting mounts, and the stubby tuning pins do suggest an earlier date.
Whatever their exact origins, the pipes are superb tonally, beautifully made, and display great character.
The mounts are elephant ivory and the metal slides appear to be silver-plated brass. The blowstick stock is two-piece brass lined, though the original watertrap it was made to house is no longer present. The bone mouthpiece may or may not be original to the pipes.
There is no visible stamp anywhere, and all pieces appear to be original.
The pipes were not stripped or refinished as the current finish is in excellent shape. There are no visible repairs. The pipes appear to have lived most recently in Perthshire, Scotland.
The tone is vibrant, rich and full, with a solid bass. The set reeded quickly and was steady from the get-go.
R. Gillanders and Son, circa 1956, full natural
This set came to me as having been made/purchased in 1956. The ivory patina supports that vintage.
The pipes are in great shape and required no repairs or refinishing. The original chanter is a testament to the integrity of the instrument and the care with which it was treated. The pipes have the Gillanders stamp in the cord guides.
The tone is smooth and seamless, not as “mellow” as the Hardie sound, but not as full as the Henderson. The set locked into tune for me very quickly.
Bert Gillanders learned his pipemaking with John Center, the MacDougalls and the Thows around the turn of the century. He set up his own business in Dundee in the late 1920s. His son Robert learned the business in the 1930s, and would have made this set. The company continues to operate today as Gillanders and McLeod.
This is a modestly priced vintage set in great shape, with great style and a sweet tone.
Henderson, circa 1920s, ebony, full ivory mounted
This old Henderson set was sold to me as circa 1930s, but I think it might be a little earlier than that. The wood is ebony, the mounts are full ivory.
They have been stripped and refinished. A very small hairline crack was invisible whipped on the bass top and a crack in a projecting mount on one of the tenor bottoms has been filled. Aside from that the pipes are in great shape and are all original.
The ivory shows some staining due to age, as well as a slight bit of red staining, perhaps caused by a bag cover while the pipes were in storage.
I put the drones in my own stocks with my normal reeds and chanter as I usually do, and they locked together with the first tuning. I didn’t need to play them for more than two minutes to realize how good they were. The sound is bold, vibrant and steady. The drones tune exactly where they should.
I love old sets like this — in great condition, yet full of character from years of use, with a tone that demonstrates exactly why we like vintage instruments.
Original MacDougall silver and ivory mounts on Breadalbane reproduction
This striking set is absolutely unique. Some months ago I purchased a very old bagpipe that was badly cracked and contained several replacement pieces. It was clear that a number of the pieces were Duncan MacDougall’s, made during his Breadalbane period in the 1870s, and that all of the original silver and ivory mounts were present and in mint condtion. There was no sense in restoring the original mix of drone parts. So instead I asked Dunbar Bagpipes, my sole and superb refurbisher, to carefully remove all the original mounts and use them on one of the Breadalbane MacDougall reproductions they have been making for me for some years now.
It was a match made in heaven. The Dunbar reproduction is exemplary, both visually and tonally, and it would not be hard to pass this set off as a MacDougall original that had been restored and refinished. To prevent this, the bottom bass drone joint and all stocks have been stamped to identify the pipes as a modern reproduction. (Note that the stamps were added after these photos were taken.)
The deep-cut silver is gorgeous and the ivory is blemish-free but for a couple of age stains. As stated elsewhere in this site, the reproduction drones are an exact copy of a Breadalbane MacDougall set that I acquired from the late Skye piper Allan Beaton. I’m thrilled with the way these pipes turned out tonally — a very steady sound, with a large, cradling bass — and I will be playing my set during my summer foray to Scotland to play with the Inveraray and District Pipe Band. The set pictured here was made from wood that was purchased in 2006 and has been aging ever since.
Duncan MacDougall, plain German silver slides, circa 1880s
It’s hard to say if the plain German silver slides on this set are original, but they add a distinct touch of elegance to an already elegant MacDougall bagpipe. It can be difficult to guesstimate the age of a Duncan McDougall set, but this one and appears to be at least partially mounted in marine ivory — almost certainly walrus — although the projecting mounts could be elephant. This would suggest a pre-1890 date of manufacture. The wood is of course ebony.
The pipes were in good shape upon receipt and played well. After the finish was removed some hairline cracks were found on one tenor top and on the middle joint of the bass drone. These have been invisible whipped and are not detectable. The blowpipe stock was badly cracked and has been replaced with a poly-lined blackwood replica that uses the original mount.
The pipes are tonally brilliant — a very exceptional set, even by Duncan MacDougall standards. The bass is bold and cradles the perfectly matched and steady tenors. The tuning chambers are smooth and even for ease of tuning. The pipes have been refinished, though the ivory is perfect, and it is clear that the set has been well cared for for more than 120 years.
Henderson, circa 1905, cocuswood and ebony, nickel ferrules, new artificial ivory caps
Mixing ebony and cocuswood in a single set of pipes was common around the turn of the century. With this Henderson set, the bass top and bottom, one tenor top and the blowpipe are all ebony. The rest of the pieces are Caribbean cocus. The tuning pin on the bass middle joint was cracked beyond repair and has been replaced with a perfectly matching cocobola pin.
The set came with well-worn and chalky looking casein drone caps. These have been replaced with high-quality artificial ivory. The nickel ferrules and all other pieces are original and the set is thought to date from the first 10 years of the 1900s. The Henderson name is stamped in the cord guides and the pipes were accompanied by what appears to be the original shipping label from the Henderson shop on Renfrew Street in Glasgow.
The set required a number of repairs, including invisible whipping to the bass top and one tenor top. The blowpipe and stock were also invisible whipped. Hairline cracks were found under a number of the ferrules. These may never have created problems, but we take no chances with old wood on classic pipes and these were whipped under the ferrules as well.
For someone looking for a top-drawer Henderson sound free of ivory, this is your bagpipe. The tone is classic, robust Henderson: steady, with a big, surround-sound bass. The pipes are also very light-weight on the shoulder.
The set was stripped and refinished with our usual natural buffed finish that shows the wood grain nicely.
Robertson, circa 1930s, full ivory
This classic full ivory Robertson set likely dates from the late 1930s, as demonstrated by the pattern of scribe lines on the ferrules. The distinctive Robertson mushroom-style projecting mounts are in their full glory here as are the conical shaped drone and chanter stocks.
The set was stripped and refinished and found to be completely free of cracks. The pipes sport the usual nicks and knocks that one might expect from a well used 80-year-old set of pipes as well as some normal spider cracking in the ivory projecting mounts. The blowstick stock appears to have been lightly skimmed at some point, perhaps to remove staining, so it is whiter than the rest of the ivory mounts.
The consistency of Robertson manufacturing and tonal quality has been mentioned many times on this page and will be mentioned many more. The set is beautifully made and displays the usual bold, steady, vibrant Robertson drone sound. They are easy to reed and easy to tune.
Henderson, circa 1930, remounted in engraved nickel and artificial ivory
This set came to me just as it is. It was acquired by the previous owner as having been purchased in the late 1920s. Profiles and the shape of the ivory projecting mounts support this.
The ivory mounts were in terrible shape so the owner had the set refurbished — stripped and refinished and remounted with artificial ivory and engraved nickel. The refurbishment was undertaken by McCallum and the set comes with a McCallum poly chanter with a matching engraved sole. The rest of the set is blackwood except for the blowpipe which is polypenco.
The odd nick and chip in the wood again suggest a set that has seen long usage. There are no visible cracks or repairs and all pieces appear to be original.
The tone is typically big Henderson — full, vibrant, steady and easy to reed. For someone looking for a great old set free of ivory fears but with classic old-time tone, this could be the set for you.
Duncan MacDougall, circa 1890s, German silver and ivory
This lovely Duncan MacDougall set appears to date from the 1890s. The pipes are ebony, the mounts engraved German silver and ivory.
The drones are free of cracks. One small crack appeared on the bass drone stock under the ferrule and extended a half-inch below that. It has been invisible whipped. The finish that was on the pipes when they were acquired is in reasonable shape and it was elected to leave it is. The blowstick and blowstick stock are replacements made of polypenco, but with the original mounts affixed.
This set was played extensively in competition during the 1980s and 1990s, and was played to win, among other prizes, the Silver Medal at Inverness.
The tone of this set is classic Duncan: rich, steady, and with a room-filling bass.
There are some minor nicks in the wood as one would expect from a set of this age, but overall it is a magnificent tonal and historic set, made by one of the great bagpipe makers of all time.
Though not pictured, the original chanter sole does come with this set.
Update: this set was sold almost immediately after it was put up on this page. The buyer has opted to have the set stripped and refinished and to have the blowstick stock replaced with a poly-lined blackwood replacement.
Lawries, silver and ivory, 1952
This silver and ivory mounted Lawrie set is in superb shape, with the silver hallmarked 1951-52.
There were no cracks in the wood when they were acquired. They have been stripped and refinished, and there were no cracks under the original finish either. The tuning chambers have been gently reamed to even out the tuning action.
Some of the ivory has turned a cream colour, a little darker than the off-white of the rest, but the overall effect is still quite appealing. The ivory bushing of one tenor drone has some staining that couldn’t be removed and is visible in the photo of the drone caps.
The mouthpiece is not original. It is recent imitation ivory and engraved nickel.
The pipes play very nicely, displaying the usual robust and steady sound that Lawrie pipes maintained well into the 1950s. It’s a vibrant sound with lots of chanter blend.
Full ivory Henderson, circa 1905
This Henderson set was purchased as circa 1900-1910. The profiles, and particularly the wide projecting mounts suggest that this is a fairly accurate dating. They are blackwood, and were they any earlier than this they would likely be ebony or cocuswood.
The tone and steadiness are superb, with the deep and cradling bass sound is what one would alway hope for in a classic Henderson set. The pipes locked into tune quickly and solidly.
The finish appears to be original. One tenor stock had a hairline crack running much of its length and this was invisible whipped. A couple of the ferrules had hairlines underneath them and these were whipped as well. These repairs are permanent and you would be hard-pressed to see where any of this work was done. The ivory ferrule on the blowstick stock was a mess. A matching period replacement was found in much better shape, despite a small crack that has been sealed.
There are some minor nicks in the wood, but overall the pipes are in excellent shape for 110 years old.
Though not pictured, the original chanter does come with this set. It’s nice to have, but it is not really playable.
Silver and ivory Henderson, circa 1920
This set is a real beauty: silver and ivory Hendersons thought to date from the early 1920s. They appear to be blackwood and are free of cracks. The only flaw, as you’ll see in the photos, is that one tenor drone projecting mount has a piece broken off the side. Someone with good sense had the break sanded straight and polished, so, while visible, it is not unsightly.
The blowstick is a poly-lined blackwood replica by Dunbar Bagpipes, with an ivory mount that is not original to the set but was taken from the previous cracked blowpipe. The mount matches the rest of the set fairly well; it just doesn’t look quite as old. The finish has been left on the set as is, though the wood, silver and ivory were all polished on a lathe. A hairline crack under the ferrule on one tenor stock and the bass stock have been whipped.
The chanter is a Henderson, and the fact that it has an ivory sole would suggest it is not original to the pipes, though it may be.
Like the pipes directly below, this is a first-class old Henderson set. The tone is full and steady, and the pipes went brilliantly with both sets of reeds I tried.
Henderson, cocuswood, 1932, ivory, nickel ferrules
This lovely cocuswood Henderson set was made in 1932. We know because it had only one owner, and the widow recorded the year the pipes were bought from the Henderson shop in Glasgow. The Henderson stamp is clearly visible on all four cord guides.
The pipes are in superb shape, save for some slight staining on some of the ivory mounts. The blowstick stock had a couple of slight hairlines under the ferrule. These have been whipped and are not visible. The pipes still have the original Henderson chanter. It is not compatible with modern reeds and probably couldn’t be played, but its presence maintains the original integrity of the set.
The tuning chambers required some slight evening out and the tuning action is now smooth and easy. The tone of the pipes is superbly Henderson. They locked into tune immediately in the proper tuning positions and with the bold richness of vintage Henderson in cocuswood.
The original finish was in excellent condition. The wood, ivory and nickel ferrules were professionally polished. The blowstick was rebored to open it up to modern preferred standards.
Hard to beat this classic Henderson for tone and simple elegance….