Vintage Bagpipe Archive

Photos and descriptions of all instruments featured
since October 2010

  • Robertson, full ivory, 1941

    James Robertson set a high standard for pipemaking throughout his long career, and pipemakers without exception speak in reverential terms about his craftsmanship. His design and manufacturing standards were so consistent that it can be difficult to attach dates to his pipes. However, this set at one time had a bill of sale that dated them 1941, though the previous owner (only the second in the life of the instrument) has since lost it.

    This set is blackwood, fully mounted in ivory, and shows James Robertson’s unmistakable mushroom-shaped projecting mounts and his characteristic scribe lines and beads on the ferrules. They are in pristine condition after refinishing, though the original blowstick has been replaced with a new delrin-lined blackwood one (original mount). Some of the mounts have some slight staining.

    The set is classic Robertson – a full, rich sound and very steady.

  • 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. They spent several days in an almond oil bath.

  • Thow 3/4 set in ebony, 1920s, nickel ferrules, ivory ring caps

    Thow made pipes out of Dundee from 1853-1953, and though not common, Thow pipes from the early 1900s are highly respected. The date of this set is unknown, though the patina of the ivory might suggest the 1920s. It is difficult to tell if they are blackwood or ebony, but they appear to be ebony.

    The set is almost complete, including a superb, stamped chanter that plays close to Bb. There is no original blowstick or stock. Instead, the set has a regular-sized poly blowstick stock with a nickel mount, and a large-bore poly blowstick.

    The ferrules are nickel and the ring caps and chanter sole are ivory.

    The set comes with cane reeds that go very nicely, though a set of Ezeedrone 3/4 drone reeds are available for an extra $95. The pipes are equipped with a regular-sized hide bag in excellent shape. It also comes with what is likely its original wooden case.

    The set plays beautifully at around Bb with a nice, easy reed. Great set for a child or as a ceilidh or indoor instrument.

  • Circa 1920s Duncan MacRae 3/4 set, cocuswood, nickel ferrules, ivory caps

    Duncan MacRae was a superb and innovative maker who made pipes from 1897 until his death in 1930. The company continued on until the early 1950s. He worked closely with P/M Willie Gray, a great thinker and piping innovator himself.

    The cocuswood would suggest that this 3/4 set or “reelpipe” was made in the 1920s or earlier. The original tuning pins on the pipes were “hempless.” This was a MacRae invention that used expanding vertical nickel bands to maintain constant pressure on the tuning chambers so the pins didn’t need to be hemped. The sliding action on this set had deteriorated over the years, so the bands were removed and the tuning pins were threaded and hemped. The lower parts of the slides are original and still show the patent number MacRae had stamped on each to protect his invention.

    The set is in great shape, with no cracks.  There was no chanter stock with the pipes, so a cocobola chanter stock with a matching nickel ferrule has been made to match the set. The satin finish is in great shape and was not touched

    There was no chanter with the pipes, so it comes with a cocobola 3/4 chanter made by Roddy MacLellan in Bb. The set comes with a Ross extended small bag and Ezeedrone 3/4 drone reeds. The drones are steady and buzzy. Set up with an easy reed in Bb, a set like this is great for a small child or for your own entertainment and playing with concert pitch instruments.

  • Larwrie, 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.

  • R. G. Hardie, 1963-64, hallmarked engraved Sterling silver, ivory

    SOLD – Bob Hardie and partner John Weatherston always used superb, well-seasoned wood. Their pipes are well made, steady, and easy to reed.

    This set is mounted in ivory and engraved silver, hallmarked 1963-64. It is in superb shape. The only repair required to the wood was to seal a crack in the blowpipe stock. The ivory blowpipe bulb was cracked beyond repair and has been replaced by an artificial ivory bulb. The engraved silver sleeve is original.

    The set was stripped and refinished and comes with the original Hardie chanter and silver sole. The chanter may well be beyond going well with today’s reeds, but its presence is a reflection of how well the pipes have been cared for.

    Hardie pipes are sought in many circles for their mellower tone. They do not have overpowering volume but they are extremely steady.

    This is a beautiful set in great condition, perfect for a hobbyist who would like a sparkling and steady high-end bagpipe.


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

    This is a slightly unusual Henderson set. It appears to be a mixture of cocuswood and Brazillian kingwood. This was not an uncommon Henderson configuration in the 1920s and 1930s. The ferrules are nickel, and the mounts and caps are ivory.

    This is a tonally superb set, with a sweetness to the Henderson sound that is different from the more robust blackwood.

    There are a couple of very slight dings in the projecting mounts, one on the blowstick, and a smaller one on the bass bottom.

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

    The pipes were refinished some years ago and the finish is still in excellent shape. The unusual wood configuration and replacement stocks result in a superb price for the classic Henderson sound.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks only
    CAD $3,650 plus shipping

    Set up to play – Ross Bag, ‘JMcG’ or MCC2 solo blacwood chanter, Kinnaird Evolution or Canning drone reeds, bag cover, cords.
    CAD $4,295 plus shipping

  • Robertson, hallmarked 1953 silver and ivory

    This is an absolutely lovely Robertson set made in Edinburgh in silver and ivory, hallmarked 1953. They are in beatiful shape with a gorgeous thistle silver pattern. The ivory is immaculate. The blowstick is a delrin replacement, though the ivory mount and thistle sleeve are original. The ivory bulb may or may not be original.

    The pipes come with the original Robertson chanter and silver sole. It’s not the kind of chanter one would play, as modern reeds don’t suit it, but it’s nice to have the original piece and the silver sole can be put onto another chanter.

    The set required only polishing on the lathe, shortening of the blowstick, and a gentle reaming of the tuning chambers to even up the tuning action again.

    The tone is as typically Robertson as the appearance — big, bold, and very steady.

    One thing to note is that the stocks are tapered, which Robertson did frequently before the mid-1950s. This means that if you employ a moisture control system with these pipes, it it will need to be a suction-cup type rather than a stock-insertion type as the latter will just fall out.

    The pipes also come with a “Certificate of Authenticity and Opinion of Value” done by Ron Bowen in 2016.


    Kris Test Continually myocardinate extensive technology before virtual “outside the box” thinking. Holisticly scale global interfaces before timely communities.

    Kris Test Continually myocardinate extensive technology before virtual “outside the box” thinking. Holisticly scale global interfaces before timely communities.