Vintage Bagpipe Archive

Photos and descriptions of all instruments featured
since October 2010

  • Henderson, engraved silver and ivory, hallmarked 1928-29, D.R. MacLennan’s bagpipe

    This is a pretty spectacular set of blackwood Hendersons. The engraved silver and ivory are in nearly pristine condition, and the pipes play beautifully.

    The ferrules and caps are hallmarked 1928, and the slides 1929. The stocks are perfect blackwood replacements with the original silver ferrules. There is a barely visible crack in the blowstick just above the projecting mount, so at some point the blowstick was bored out and a thin copper sleeve was inserted.

    There have been no repairs to the drones or silver. The ivory bulb has cracked at some point, but the crack was filled and the piece is stable. The bottom bass joint was replaced using the original mounts by Brian Donaldson in 1985.

    The Peter Henderson company was, of course the premier pipemaker of the 20th century, perhaps of all time. Their best pipes were made before 1950, and their pre-1930 pipes are the most sought after of all. Their tone is full and rich and they are renown for their remarkable steadiness. This set is no exception.

    UPDATE: Since this set was posted, they have been identified as set purchased around 1984 by Brian Donaldson of Inveran Bagpipes from Brigadier MacLennan, the son of D. R. MacLennan, the half-brother of G.S. McLennan. D.R. died that year, and the pipes were his. Donald Ross MacLennan was very prominent piper and piping figure in his own right. He is one of the few players to win the Gold Medals at Oban and Inverness in the same year (1956). You can read his biography here: D. R. MacLennan. Whether these pipes are the same as those in the photo or are the pipes with which he won the Medals with is not yet certain.

  • Henderson, circa 1900-1910, cocuswood/blackwood, full ivory, silver slides

    This very old set of Hendersons is a mix of cocuswood and blackwood. The two tenor drone bottoms are blackwood, and while makers at this time were known to mix woods, it is possible that these two pieces were later Henderson replacements. Visually, this is indiscernible.

    It is thought that the pipes date from between 1900 and around 1910. The ivory shows some spider cracking, none of which threatens the mounts. There is some staining and chipping on the ivory, consistent with a set of pipes that is over 100 years old. The slides are hallmarked silver, added in the mid-1970s.

    The Henderson stamp is visible in all the cord slots.

    One tenor top and the bass mid-joint had hairline cracking that has been invisible whipped. These repairs are indiscernible.

    The blowpipe and blowpipe stock are complete replacments and have been fitted with non-chip imitation ivory.

    The tone of this set is outstanding — great Henderson boldness and steadiness. The tuning chambers are very even and the drones are easy to reed, also a Henderson trait.

    Email me about this set.

  • Unknown cocuswood set, pre-1920s, ivory, nickel

    This set is an unusual visual misfit, but with an absolutely brilliant tone. I purchased it as an ebony set of unknown make. When the pipes were stripped to be refinished, they were found to be made entirely of very high quality cocuswood.

    Not all the pieces or mounts match up externally, yet the overall visual effect is good. The projecting mounts and rings are ivory, the ferrules are nickel, likely added later. There are some chips in the ivory and some small splits in a couple of the ferrules. One of the bass projecting mounts is clearly a retrofit. The bass drone mid-joint had a surface crack which has been invisible whipped. The blowpipe is a new poly stick with the mount that came with the pipes.

    Despite outward appearances, this set is tonally superior, very much in the Lawrie tradition:  robust, rich, steady and easy to reed. If you’re looking for an affordable vintage set with a high-end sound, these are your pipes.

    Email me about this set.

  • R. G. Lawrie, pre-1920, silver and ivory

    Here is a set of Lawries from the company’s prime, likely from the time when John MacColl managed the pipemaking. The silver is not hallmarked, but the small bead on the ivory and upper profiles suggest very early Lawrie, perhaps even earlier than WW1.

    It is difficult to tell what wood has been used since the lacquer finish hides it, but I suspect it is blackwood since the pipes appear to be free of cracks. The ivory has some minor dents, but overall the pipes are in superb shape.

    The make of the chanter is unknown, but it plays well and appears fairly modern. The lack of a maker’s name on it suggests it might be a “back-door” item, likely a Sinclair.

    The pipes are classic Lawrie: big, bold, steady, and with a velvety richness that permeates the room.

    They appear to have lived their life in Scotland, and were played in the Muirhead & Sons band in Grade 1 during the 1960s and, more recently, the Boghall & Bathgate Grade 1 band.

    These are classic vintage Lawries at their best.

    Email me about this set.

  • David Glen, stamped, circa 1900, cocuswood, ivory, button mounts

    If you want a David Glen bagpipe, cocuswood is the way to go. This set is in great shape, and has a vivid “David Glen and Sons, Edinburgh” stamp on the bass drone stock.

    The pipes are mounted in ivory, with button projecting mounts. The caps are wood — cocus or ebony. The ivory is in supurb condition.

    The drones and stocks are in great shape with no cracks. The blowstick has at some point cracked, but has been sealed and fitted with a copper sleeve. It was bored before the sleeve was installed, so there is no blowing restriction.

    The chanter is original and was cracked, but has been completely restored. It plays well, albeit with a 1900 pitch.

    Glen pipes are known to be “mellow” — another way of saying quiet. This set isn’t as mellow as some, and the rich buzz Glen gets from his drones makes up for any lack of volume. Glen’s steadiness is legendary. Showing David Glen’s outstanding craftsmanship, this is an outstanding set of pipes, and they sit on your shoulder as light as a feather.

    Email me about this set.

  • Lawrie, circa 1900-1920, in ebony, ivory and celluloid mounted

    This set came from the estate of Captain John A. MacLellan in Edinburgh and is a lovely but curious instrument. The sticks are ebony, and the profiles are early Lawrie. The two tenors don’t match exactly. They certainly came out of the same shop, but maybe not quite at the same time. It’s possible at some point in its history, a number of the mounts were replaced, resulting in, for example, ferrules that are not typically Lawrie in design.

    As has been noted often on this page, celluloid was a brilliant ivory substitute, complete with a grain and the right hue. The projecting mounts on this set appear to be ivory, as do most if not all of the ferrules. It can be difficult to tell, such is the quality of celluloid as an ivory copy.

    It is possible that the chanter stock is a replacement, though the mount is original. The blowstick stock is also a replacement, including the mount.

    The projecting mounts were made in two pieces: a method used by early pipemakers in order to save the wider pieces of ivory only for the widest part of the projecting mounts. The seams are visible in the photos, though the joins are solid. This implies an earlier rather than a later date. John MacLellan purchased these pipes from the Glen shop in Edinburgh and was told they were circa 1900.

    The tone is rock steady, but not quite as full as the typical Lawrie. It is not a quiet sound by any means, but more toward the MacDougall than the Henderson/Lawrie sound. They may have been custom-bored for a client wanting a more refined sound. The pipes are quite distinctive in appearance and very lightweight to carry.

    They are free of cracks and needed no refurbishment.

  • Henderson, 1952, full ivory with plain silver slides

    This is a big, happy set of Hendersons made in 1952 and very well taken care of ever since. They are mounted fully in ivory and have hallmarked, plain silver slides. There are 1952 hallmarks on the plain silver slides.

    They were most recently owned by an American serviceman who played them in Iraq for some time before his retirement. He owned them since the early 1980s and originally acquired them from Jim McIntosh in Pittsburgh.

    One tenor top appears to be a replacement and does not bear the usual Henderson stamp in the cord guides. The pipes are in superb condition, though they have some slight staining on the ivory here and there.

    The sound is classic Henderson. They are very full and very steady and are easily reeded.

    They have been refinished.

  • R. G. Hardie, hand-engraved silver and ivory, hallmarked 1956

    Bob Hardie was a lovely, quiet, modest man and an icon of 20th-century piping. He was a leading soloist in the 1940s and 1950s, and his band, Muirhead and Sons Ltd., won five straight World Pipe Band Championships in the 1960s. In 1950 he and John Weatherston founded one of the most successful bagpipe making companies of the time. The company continued until 2005, though Bob died in 1990.

    This Hardie bagpipe was made in 1956. It is mounted in hand-engraved Sterling silver and ivory. All parts including the chanter are original except the mouthpiece bulb, which is an imitation ivory replacement. The blowpipe had a slight crack but has been glued and sealed.

    Hardies were renown for using well seasoned, high quality wood. Even after 55 years, all pieces in this set are straight and true. The finish on the pipes has not been touched except for the bass bottom, which has been refinished to match.

    The drones are mellow, steady and easy to reed. The chanter is flatter pitched and a little more difficult to reed becasue of its age, but the Hardie chanter was the chanter for both top bands and soloists during the 1950s and ’60s.

    This is the loveliest Hardie instrument I have seen.

  • Circa 1880s Henderson, ebony, ivory, engraved German silver

    This is one of the most unique sets to come to McGillivray Piping in some time. The pipes are Peter Henderson, in ebony, thought to date from the 1880s. The projecting mounts and bushes are ivory. The drone ferrules, slides, caps and mouthpiece tube appear to be what has been called “German silver,” which was an alloy of copper (60%), nickel (20%) and zinc (20%). It was hand engraved (except for the turning slides) and then silver plated. The stocks are Sterling silver, likely cast, and quite ornate. Though the combination of two kinds of ferrules is unusual, other sets known to be from Henderson’s early years do exist like this, though in at least one other case it was the caps that were cast. For example, there are strong similarities in engraving between this instrument, and the one show on Ringo Bowen’s site as Calum Piobaire’s 1866 Prize Pipe. Of particular interest are the ornate caps:

    Calum Piobaire’s Prize Pipe

    The tuning pin on the middle bass drone joint and the chanter stock were cracked and both have been replaced with ebony reproductions. One tenor bottom had a hairline crack, so three combing sections were invisibly whipped to prevent spreading.

    While all bores ran perfectly true, some had shrunk slightly and were re-reamed to original Henderson specs by Dunbar Bagpipes.

    The drones are bold, steady, and blend beautifully with each other and with the chanter.

    This is a remarkable instrument and artifact in superb shape.

  • Henderson, hallmarked 1926, silver and ivory

    SOLD – This is one of the most stunning looking Hendersons to appear on this site, and their tone easily matches their appearance. The wood is African blackwood, mounted in ivory and Sterling silver with a gorgeous relief pattern. The silver hallmark dates the pipes to 1926.

    All pieces are original except for the mouthpiece bulb, which is an imitation ivory replica. The original bulb is still with the pipes, though it is cracked.

    The set is virtually pristine though hairline cracks in the bass top and bass stock have been invisibly whipped and are indeed invisible.

    The pipes play like a dream and even the original chanter plays well, though close to Bb.  If you’ve been waiting for THE set of Hendersons to come around, this is it!

  • Lawrie, 1950s, imitation ivory, nickel

    This African blackwood set was made by the R. G. Lawrie company, likely in the 1950s or a bit earlier. The drones are mounted fully in imitation ivory, while the stocks have classic Lawrie nickel ferrules.

    All pieces are original except for the blowstick, which is a blackwood mounted replacement. The blowstick stock had a small crack, which has been whipped, almost imperceptibly. The original chanter comes with the pipes — a thick old stick typical of 1940s or 1950s chanters.

     

  • Lawrie, circa 1920s, in ebony, nickel

    Lawrie drones of this ilk in ebony may be one of the most common vintage pipes available today, though it is uncommon to find one so free of major faults. They were likely made in the 1920s, though this dating could vary by a decade either way. The bells, cord guides, projecting mounts and tapered nickel ferrules are classic Lawrie.

    This set has been refinished and there is invisible whipping beneath the top three combs of the bass drone stock. A couple of the ferrule tenons showed some slight checking, so these were whipped under the ferrules and will cause no probelms. Blackwood hemp stops were added to all four tuning pins.

    –a big Henderson/Lawrie wall of sound. The ebony material provides a level of steadiness and richness unequalled by blackwood of the same era.

     

  • R. G. Lawrie, ebony, engraved silver and ivory, hallmarked 1914

    This is a stunning set of ebony Lawries from the midst of John MacColl’s career with the company. It displays the classic tapered ferrules and shallow bells typical of the make. They are extremely full, rich and steady.

    The previous owner was playing the pipes with hairline cracks in the bass stock, one tenor stock and the bass middle joint — not unusual for ebony pipes of this age. These have been invisible whipped to eliminate future problems.

    The R. G. Lawrie company was certainly the equal of Peter Henderson in both tonal and manufacturing quality during the early part of the century. The internal specs of their pipes were virtually identical, they jobbed out to one another, and they shared some of the same turners. Tonally, their pipes are identical, with a big, rich tone and tremendous steadiness.

    The number of top players who have won premier prizes with classic Lawries or Hendersons is remarkable.

    This set has been refinished.

     

  • Lawries, circa 1930s, ebony, nickel, imitation ivory

    Here is a very affordable but excellent Lawrie set in ebony, likely made in the 1930s.

    It is mounted mostly in nickel, with ebony projecting mounts. The bushes are celluloid, the rest of the caps are very good imitation ivory.

    The bass bottom joint is a replica in blackwood. Three of the stocks are ebony replicas. The replica pieces are all perfect matches to the set.

    The set is in very good condition and has been refinished.

     

  • R. G. Lawrie, ebony, ivory, nickel, circa 1920s-30s

    Lawrie pipes were among the best of the early part of the 20th-century, and this includes mid-range work-a-day sets like this one. This set is superb ebony with ivory projecting mounts and caps, and classic Lawrie tapered nickel ferrules.

    It can be difficult to date these models, but the use of high-grade ebony and the ivory patina on this set suggest late 1920s or early 1930s.

    These pipes came back to me from a previous customer who purchased them several years ago, has added to his collection and decided it was time to downsize. I don’t have a record of what work was done during refurbishment other than refinishing. The invisible whipping I have done on pipes now is almost imperceptible, but I have gone over these with a fine tooth comb and I can’t find any whipping. The blowpipe stock was cracked when I received the pipes back and that has been invisible whipped and the blowstick bored out.

    But for a couple of small age chips, the ivory and wood are all in excellent condition.

    The set is bold, rich and steady in the old Lawrie tradition.

    Email me about this set.

  • Robertsons, circa 1940, fully mounted in cocobola

    This set of Robertsons was originally mounted in casein, an imitation ivory material used in the early and mid-1900s. Casein unfortunately breaks down over time to acquire an unattractive chalky appearance. The casein on this set had deteriorated quite a bit, which would date them from the 1930s or 1940. The pipes themselves were in superb condition, so the casein mounts were removed and replaced with cocobola wood.

    The pipes were stripped and refinished when they were remounted.

    James Robertson made pipes from just before the Great War until he died in 1948. His company continued into the 1960s. His reputation for tonal and manufacturing consistency over this long period of time is almost unequalled. His drones are full, rich and steady, and this set is no exception.

  • Wm. Sinclair and Son, 1945, blackwood, ivory, engraved silver slides

    William Sinclair & Son has been a premier pipemaker since it was founded in 1931 in Edinburgh. Though the Sinclair chanter has been an iconic band chanter since the 1950s, Sinclair drones have gained an equal reputation for craftsmanship, steadiness and tonal brilliance. I won the Gold Medals at Oban and Inverness and the Clasp at Inverness on a set of silver and ivory 1948 Sinclair drones.

    This is an absolutely lovely set, in superb shape, with great lines and a lovely, bright sound like my set. The slides are engraved sterling silver, hallmarked 1945. The Sinclair practice of putting serial numbers on chanters has been followed here as well. Barely visible on the top of the slide on the bass bottom is “432201-945” — the last three numbers matching the hallmark date on the silver.

    A new blowpipe and stock were made with original mounts to replace the cracked originals. Both are lined with polypenco to prevent cracking.

    The wood and ivory on this set are gorgeous, and they sport the distinctive one-piece-full ivory caps typical of the Sinclair brand. The pipes play beautifully — steady, rich and bright. The chanter is original and looks like it has been broken and expertly put back together again. It plays beautifully.

  • R. G. Hardie, 1961, engraved silver and ivory

    Bob Hardie made pipes from the late 1940s until the 1980s. He was a careful craftsman and used excellent blackwood.

    His pipes are extremely steady, though they do not produce a big sound like the old Henderson or Lawrie sets. They are a very reliable and effective choice for a hobby piper wanting a stable, trouble-free silver and ivory set.

    This set is in superb condition, with no flaws on the wood or ivory. It appears that one tenor stock and the blowstick stock are newer than the rest of the set (original mounts), and were probably replaced at the Hardie shop at some point.

    The pipes were recently refinished.

    Email me about this set.

  • Engraved silver and ivory Lawries in blackwood and ebony, 1951-52

    This Lawrie set is hallmarked 1951-52. Two of the pieces (including the chanter sole) are hallmarked 10 years later, but are perfect matches. The pipes were apparently bought new in 1952. The wood appears to be a mix of blackwood and ebony.

    All pieces are original and there are no cracks. The ivory blowtick bulb has been lost, though the orignal engraved mouthpiece sleeve remains. One of the ivory ferrules on the bass has some age cracks on the bottom, but the ferrule is still solid.

    The hand-engraved silver is outstanding, as evidenced by the photos of the chanter sole and the three ferrules.

    The pipes play with great power and steadiness — typical Lawrie attributes.

    The chanter doesn’t appear to be original to the pipes. Where the bulb meets the stock is not a perfect match in diameter, which it would be if it were the original Lawrie chanter. This may not be a bad thing. While Lawrie drones are top-of-the-heap, the chanters… not so much. This chanter has no maker’s name. It is quite good, though I can’t say for sure who made it. If I were guessing I would say Sinclair.

  • Circa 1940s Starck in blackwood, full ivory, nickel slides

    This set of 1940s Henry Starck pipes comes from the estate of Captain John MacLellan, who purchased them in Edinburgh in the 1970s. Henry Starck came from a German woodwind making family that immigrated to London in the early 1800s. Henry began making pipes in 1889 and the company continued into the mid-1900s. The company was renown for its meticulous craftsmanship and instruments that can stand up against the best pipes in the business.

    This set is blackwood, and all of the mounts are ivory. The tuning slides are nickel. It is very likely that the pipes underwent a cosmetic refurb just before Captain MacLellan purchased them, and it’s possible that the ivory ferrules were added at that time as the ferrules do not look as old as the projecting mounts and ring caps. The pipes were probably refinished then as well.

    All pieces are original. One projecting mount broke in transit, but the break was perfectly clean and it has been glued back into place with just a light line visible at the join.

    The tone is full and steady and similar to a set of modern Naills. This may be no coincidence, as Naill founder Les Cowell trained at Starck’s in the 1950s. The pipes are in virtually new condition.

  • Circa 1890s Henry Starck, cocuswood, full ivory

    Henry Starck was part of a woodwind-making family that came to London from Germany in the early 1800s. Henry Senior began making pipes in 1889 after William Ross, the Queen’s piper, convinced him there was a good market. His pipes would eventually became renowned and sought after for their tone and for a level of craftsmanship at which modern makers still marvel.

    Starck stamped many of his sets. This cocuswood set is not stamped, but the projecting mounts are turned in Starck’s very distinctive style, and these drone bottoms are identical in every respect (including the combing) to two drone pieces I have that are stamped “H. Starck” just below the upper projecting mount. These pipes are not as meticulously crafted as later Starck sets and are thought to be a very early example of Henry’s work.

    The pipes are all original, except for one replaced tenor drone bush, and they are in immaculate shape but for some slight staining on the ivory.

    The tone is superb cocuswood: steady, buzzy and full, though not as robust as a Henderson set. The tuning chambers are perfectly even and the tenor drones tune in a perfect position above the hemp line.

    The cocuswood gives the pipes a deep, reddish-brown hue with great old-school character.

  • Henderson, circa 1910, ivory, nickel

    This very old Henderson set is in superb shape for its age.

    Dating is difficult with a set like this, but the shape and patina of the ivory suggest pre-Great War.

    The nickel ferrules are original. The slides were added by the previous owner and are a perfect match.

    All pieces are original and unrepaired, except for the chanter stock that had a slight crack that has been invisible whipped. The ivory drone caps have some normal age chipping. One projecting mount has had a piece of ivory about a quarter-inch square surgically inserted into what was undoubtedly a chip. The seams are visible but the ivory is a perfect match. The tuning chambers are perfectly even.

    The tone is lovely: robust, but not overpowering; rich, with the deep, luxuriant Henderson bass and locked-in steadiness.
    This is a prime, vintage Henderson set that would hold its own against any bagpipe in the world.

    The slight shine in the photos is the not-quite-dry remnants of a 4-day almond oil bath.

  • Henderson, circa 1930, cocuswood or Brazillian kingwood, nickel, ivory

    Several of these Henderson sets have come up on the site in the last few years. They are either cocuswood or the lighter and more variegated Brazillian kingwood, or a mix of both. It seems to have been a fairly common Henderson configuration in the 1920s and 1930s: cocuswood or kingwood with ivory projecting mounts and ring caps, and nickel ferrules.

    They are tonally superb sets, with a sweetness to the Henderson sound that is different from the more robust blackwood sound.

    The set has no original chanter (the chanter in the photographs was included by mistake). All five stocks are replacements with matching ferrules, as there were no stocks with this set. The blowstick stock is poly, the rest are blackwood.

    The pipes have been refinished.

  • Circa late 1800s stamped David Glen in cocuswood

    David Glen was a giant of piping. He was a prolific and significant compiler and publisher of pipe music, and the leading Edinburgh maker of bagpipes. His pipes are prized for their rich, steady tone, and stamped sets are historical icons. His meticulous craftsmanship is the envy of pipemakers even today.

    This set is cocuswood with button mounts and nickel ferrules and rings. The David Glen stamp appears at the top of the bass drone stock.

    The tone is vintage Glen: rich and remarkably steady. This set is more reserved than the Henderson or MacDougall sound, but is fuller than most Glens, perhaps due to the cocuswood.

    This set is flawless but for one very effective repair in one tenor top. A crack that begins under the ferrule and extends above it has been ‘whipped’ under the ferrule with the addition of a brass ferrule under the nickel ferrule. The crack has been sealed with glue. This repair existed when the previous owner acquired the pipes in 1986, and the pipes have been played ever since with no change in the status of the repair. The seam of nickel ferrule opened at some point, but it too has never budged.

    The finish in light varnish is also the pre-1986 finish and is in immaculate condition. No refurbishment was required on this bagpipe. This set was recently removed from an almond oil bath, resulting in some reflection in the photographs.

    This is a lovely David Glen set with a sweet sound, and with no concerns for travellers or buyers worried about ivory mounts.

  • WW1-era ebony Henderson, ivory caps, nickel ferrules

    If you’re looking classic ebony-Hendersons without all the expensive bling, this may be your set.

    This Henderson set is ebony, likely made between 1910 and 1925, with nickel ferrules and and new ivory caps. The caps were originally worn and chalky casein, but it was just been replaced with elephant ivory from a 1950s ornamental tusk.

    The pipes play a robust, rich and very steady Henderson tone.

    All drone pieces are original and in perfect shape. The stocks are all replacements, made with ebony and with matching nickel ferrules. Though the stocks may look brown in the photos, they will darken up to match the wood in the drones.

    The pipes have been refinished. This is a very sweet set of early Hendersons.

  • Duncan MacDougall, circa 1890, ebony, full ivory

    Many pipers believe that of all pipemakers, Duncan MacDougall, in his prime, displayed the greatest combination of tonal excellence, craftsmanship and style. He began making pipes around 1858 and died in 1898, leaving the firm to his son Gavin. Duncan MacDougall’s pipes are prized above almost all others.

    This set likely dates from about 1890, later in Duncan’s career. They are likely ebony, though a hint of red through parts of the finish might suggest cocuswood. All mounts are elephant ivory.

    The pipes came from an estate disbursement and had not been played since 1929. I acquired them from pipemaker Blue MacMurchie, who buffed the ivory and the wood, but did no other work on them. There was a barely visible crack in the top of the blowpipe stock near the ferrule, which I had invisibly whipped. You cannot tell this work was done.

    I have played the pipes since last fall, and they are spectacular: steady, rich and full. There are no cracks or major blemishes. The tenor caps are slightly different, suggesting work may have been done sometime in the past, but the two tenor tops are certainly original.
    One curiosity is the two-piece blowpipe stock equipped with a built-in brass watertrap, which I found quite useful used in combination with my McGillivray Piping tube trap. I’ve seen this on only two other sets, including a silver and ivory MacDougall set I now own that is replacing this set as my #1 pipe.

    If you’re looking for a prime, full ivory Duncan MacDougall pipe, I doubt you will do better than this!

  • Duncan MacDougall, circa 1890, restored, full ivory

    This is a classic MacDougall from Duncan’s later career, but it has undergone a substantial restoration at some point. A number of pieces are replacements, some with original ivory, some without.

    First, a warning: the set was acquired from a frequent ebay seller who maintains a website called Vintage Bagpipes out of the UK. Though promoted on ebay as ‘all original,’ stamped, and with some restoration, the set proved to be beautifully made and with a great sound, but not ‘all original’ at all. Further research into the seller’s website revealed that almost none of the sets being offered are what they appear to be: makers are unauthenticated and guesses at best. The seller refused to compromise on the sale or provide a refund, so products offered on the ‘Vintage Bagpipes’ site or by this seller on ebay are best avoided.

    The good news is that only one replacement piece (the bass middle) is modern and blackwood. The rest are ebony and quite old, so the bagpipe is by no means a modern reproduction. All stocks and the complete bass drone are replacement pieces. Most of the ivory is original, though some pieces appear more pristine than others and may be replacements, albeit very good ones. In the bottom-right photo below, you will see a ‘D. MacDougall Aberfeldy’ stamp right below the ivory mount. The letters are clearly askew, indicating that the stamp is a forgery produced with individual letter stamps, rather than with a true maker’s stamp.

    Good news part 2, is that they fooled me. I was initially very impressed with the tone and look of the pipes. It was only through Dave Atherton’s generous offer to examine them that I learned of the discrepancies. So, while not original, the bagpipe is still of a very high quality, both tonally and aesthetically, and is a first-class instrument. The same bottom-right photo shows the bass top (old replacement) and tenor top (original) side by side, and clearly the match is excellent. This same cohesive appearance marks the entire instrument, as shown in the photos.

    The tone is full, rich, and extremely steady. They went beautifully with the first set of reeds I put in them. Despite the questionable pedigree, the sound of this bagpipe still says Duncan MacDougall.

    If you’re looking for a great 100% original, stamped Duncan MacDougall set, save up about $7,500 and continue your search. If you’re looking for a superb set of ebony/ivory pipes in the Duncan MacDougall tradition with a mix of original and old replacement pieces at an affordable price, this one will fit the bill quite nicely.

  • Gavin MacDougall, circa 1900, in ebony, ivory and nickel mounts, brass slides

    This Gavin MacDougall set was made in the first decade of the 1900s. They are ebony, with ivory projecting mounts and nickel ferrules

    The tone is rich and very steady — really a classic Gavin MacDougall look and tonal quality.

    The tuning chambers are fitted with brass slides — a well known MacDougall trait. The bass mid-joint and one tenor top have at some time in the past cracked over top of the brass slides, which is a fairly common occurrence with brass slides. They were sealed many years ago and have not budged since. The projecting mount on the bass mid-joint has a moderate-sized chip.

    When I acquired these pipes they were without a bass stock and a blowpipe. A new ebony bass stock has been made with a matching nickel ferrule. A new blackwood blowstick lined with polypenco has also been made and an old ivory projecting mount was turned down to match the other projecting mounts. I’m pretty sure the ivory projecting mounts were put on a lathe and skimmed at some point to return the ivory to their original whiteness.

    This is a superb set of MacDougall pipes at an affordable price.

  • 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 and has been played steadily in the  US up until the past few months.

    The wood has been refinished.

  • Ebony Roberstons, nickel, ivory, circa 1920s

    James Robertson’s pipemaking exhibits a quality of wood and craftsmanship almost unequalled from the 1920s to the 1950s. This flat-combed set is made in ebony, allowing his Henderson-like tonal qualities and steadiness to shine through in what was at the time one of his lower-end models.

    All wood pieces are original. The drone caps were originally chalky old casein, but these have just been replaced with elephant ivory from an ornamental tusk from the 1950s. Two ferrules which have been replaced with period matches. Tiny cracks under two ferrules have been lightly whipped and covered by the ferrules. Invisible whipping has been performed on one combing section on one tenor top.

    Ebony is tonally superior to blackwood and produces a richness and steadiness blackwood cannot equal. These ebony Robertsons are a great choice for someone on a budget looking for a big, classic tone that would fare well at any level of piping.