Vintage Bagpipes

Scroll down to see vintage pipes available.

There is something in the mystery of the old instruments that captivates and motivates us. Is the old wood really better? Did the old makers know something we don’t? Do musical instruments improve with age? Why do so many great players play vintage pipes? Who was the greatest maker of all time?

Jim McGillivray playing an ebony and ivory set of circa 1850s pipes thought to be made by Duncan MacDougall’s father, John. Photo by Paul Mosey.

These questions and others continue to occupy the thoughts of vintage bagpipe aficionados. I take pride in acquiring great old pipes. I take great care in their refurbishment and in playing them to determine their musical worth.  I also go to great lengths to make sure vintage bagpipe buyers know exactly what they are getting in terms of make, quality and any repairs that have been undertaken.

If you’re looking for an old instrument, I hope you’ll trust me to help you. If you’re not looking for an old set, check out my new offerings or just take the time to enjoy the photos and descriptions of bagpipe history below.

If you have an old set you would like to part with, please email me.

Coming Soon or Currently in Refurbishment

Watch this space for instruments on their way to the vintage page.
~Robertson, silver and ivory, hallmarked 1955
~circa 1915 Henderson, ebony, nickel, blackwood projecting mounts
~circa 1890 Duncan MacDougall, ebony, ivory, German silver SOLD
~1957-58 silver and ivory Sinclair – NOW POSTED
~circa 1855 Alexander Glen, ebony, marine ivory
~1918 hallmarked plain full silver Hendersons, ebony SOLD

 

 

Vintage Pipes Currently Available

 

  • William Sinclair, silver and ivory, hallmarked 1957-58

    This Sinclar set came to me in superb condition. The only work needed was to even out the four tuning chambers. There is one small chip on on projecting mount, visible in one of the photos below.

    The set displays a thistle pattern and every piece but one is hallmarked 1957-58, including the chanter sole. The exception is the silver mouthpiece sleeve, whihc is a different pattern and hallmarked 1963-64. The ivory mouthpiece bulb probably came with the sleeve. The silver sole now resides on a very old Hardie chanter which, along with the second-place Sinclair, was the chanter of the day when this bagpipe was made.

    I played a set of 1949 silver and ivory Sinclairs through the 1980s, winning with them the Gold Medal at Oban and the MSR at the Glenfiddich championship.  There were bold, bright and beautiful — quite cheery — and this set is just like them. Great tone, steadiness, and high manufacturing quality.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks and original chanter only
    CAD $6,250 plus shipping

    Set up to play by Jim McGillivray with Ross or Bannatyne bag, polypenco chanter of choice, Ezeedrone drone reeds, Highland Gear bag cover, plain coloured silk drone cords, plastic chanter cap. (To add Ross or Bannatyne Canister system and Ross valve/watertrap, add CAD $165) (For an African Blackwood chanter instead of polypenco, request add-on price.)
    CAD $6,995  plus shipping

  • Henderson, circa 1920, full ivory

    This is a Henderson bagpipe from the 1920s with two major alterations and two minor ones. One tenor drone bottom is not a Henderon but a Lawrie in imitation ivory from the 1930s. The bottom joint is a modern replica with the original mounts. The Chanter stock, blowpipe and blowpipe stock are replacement pieces mounted in imitation ivory. The  blowpipe and stock are polypenco-lined.

    One odd feature about this set is that the two tenor top ferrules are quite different, yet the wood pieces are absolutely identical.

    These pipes played very well for me with the robust, steady and seamless sound characteristic of Henderson bagpipes of this period.

    The pipes are priced with the above-mentioned compromises in mind.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks only
    CAD $3,150 plus shipping

    Set up to play by Jim McGillivray with Ross or Bannatyne bag, polypenco chanter of choice, Ezeedrone drone reeds, Highland Gear bag cover, plain coloured silk drone cords, plastic chanter cap. (To add Ross or Bannatyne Canister system and Ross valve/watertrap, add CAD $165) (For an African Blackwood chanter instead of polypenco, request add-on price.)
    CAD $3,895  plus shipping

  • Chisholm (Robertson), circa 1940, African blackwood, nickel, imitation ivory

    The company “Chisholm and Hunters” or just plain “John Chisholm” was listed as a bagpipe maker from 1901 until 1949, according to Jeannie Campbell’s expert book “Highland Bagpipe Makers.” The company carried sundry non-piping-related items as well, and quite likely bought pipes from other makers. Vintage expert Ringo Bowen believes, on the strength of a former Robertson employee, that many of the early Chisholm sets were made by Lawrie, and later sets by the James Robertson company. This set falls into the latter category, and is in fact one of the sets pictured on Ringo’s Bagpipe Museum “John Chisholm” page.

    Likely made by either James Robertson himself or James Martin — perhaps Robertson’s best turner — the set displays some differences from Robertson sets, but the wood projecting mounts, the stocks and the tapered tuning chamber externals display a distinctly Robertson flavour. The instrument is beautifully turned.

    Any doubts about the make evaporated when I played the drones with my own Canning reeds. They were robust, seamless and steady very much like scores of Robertson’s I’ve played.

    The pipes are in great shape. The ferrules are nickel and the caps are what appears to be imitation ivory. The imitation ivory may not be original. The blowstick stock had a small crack that was been repaired. There is one rice-grain sized chip on the bead on the plastic bass ring cap.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks only
    CAD $4,150 plus shipping

    Set up to play by Jim McGillivray with Ross or Bannatyne bag, polypenco chanter of choice, Ezeedrone drone reeds, Highland Gear bag cover, plain coloured silk drone cords, plastic chanter cap. (To add Ross or Bannatyne Canister system and Ross valve/watertrap, add CAD $165) (For an African Blackwood chanter instead of polypenco, request add-on price.)
    CAD $4,895  plus shipping

  • Henry Starck, circa 1940, African blackwood, full ivory

    SOLD – Henry Starck was born to a German woodwind maker who immigrated to London around 1810. In the 1880s, the Queen’s Piper, William Ross, asked Henry Starck to make bagpipes for him. Starck did so, and then carried on its own pipemaking company, which lasted until 1962. Les Cowell, founder of David Naill and Company, trained and worked there for some years.

    This set was likely made in the early 1940s, beautifully turned in the distinctive beading style the company maintained through much of its time. At some point there was a small crack in the bass top that was poorly repaired, but this has been properly fixed and is not at all visible. The original Starck, ivory-soled chanter comes with the pipes, but is not pictured.

    The ivory is pristine save for one pepper-grain size nick in one drone stock ferrule.

    Tonally this set was booming:  voluminous and rich with my Canning reeds. This set is a visual and tonal treat.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks only
    CAD $4,150 plus shipping

    Set up to play by Jim McGillivray with Ross or Bannatyne bag, polypenco chanter of choice, Ezeedrone drone reeds, Highland Gear bag cover, plain coloured silk drone cords, plastic chanter cap. (To add Ross or Bannatyne Canister system and Ross valve/watertrap, add CAD $165) (For an African Blackwood chanter instead of polypenco, request add-on price.)
    CAD $4,895  plus shipping

  • David Glen, circa 1895, ebony & cocuswood, nickel, ivory caps

    David Glen worked in the pipemaking business with his father Alexander beginning in his teens. Alexander was the brother of Thomas MacBean Glen, whose mid-19th-century pipemaking firm would eventually become J&R Glen.  Alexander’s shop became David Glen in 1873 when Alex died and David took over at the age of 23. Those were the two Glen firms operating in Edinburgh in the latter part of the century.

    David’s firm would produce a remarkable body of work before his death in 1916. David Glen would also become the most prolific publisher of pipe music in the history of the instrument.

    This is is a typical low-end David Glen offering:  button mounts, nickel ferrules and stylized ivory caps in a mix of cocuswood and ebony.  The set was in excellent shape on acquisition. A short crack in the bass mid-joint needed invisible whipping.  There are a couple of small dings in the wood, but nothing obvious. The finish is excellent.

    David Glen’s pipes play with a rich, steady, relatively quiet sound.  The are a great piobaireachd pipe and great for anyone not wishing an overpowering drone sound.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks only
    CAD $4,150 plus shipping

    Set up to play by Jim McGillivray with Ross or Bannatyne bag, polypenco chanter of choice, Ezeedrone drone reeds, Highland Gear bag cover, plain coloured silk drone cords, plastic chanter cap. (To add Ross or Bannatyne Canister system and Ross valve/watertrap, add CAD $165) (For an African Blackwood chanter instead of polypenco, request add-on price.)
    CAD $4,895  plus shipping

  • McCallum, 2009, full-silver

    Not exactly a vintage offering, this set came into the shop for a very good price, and is being listed here at an equally good price.

    The silver pattern is zoomorphic.  The blowpipe had been lined in brass to compensate for a crack that has been subsequently repaired but it was still visible. So we made a replica blowpipe, polypenco-lined, using the same mount.  The rest of the pipes are in like-new shape. They had one elderly owner, and it looks like they weren’t played much.  There is a silver plaque with the pipes, and if your name happens to be Justice William H. Stewart, the pipes will be perfect for you!  If that’s not your name, the shield slides right off the stock.

    They play with a solid, steady tone, not quite as voluminous as the MacRae models, but bold and vibrant.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks only
    CAD $6,150 plus shipping

    Set up to play by Jim McGillivray with Ross or Bannatyne bag, polypenco chanter of choice, Ezeedrone drone reeds, Highland Gear bag cover, plain coloured silk drone cords, plastic chanter cap. (To add Ross or Bannatyne Canister system and Ross valve/watertrap, add CAD $165) (For an African Blackwood chanter instead of polypenco, request add-on price.)
    CAD $6,895  plus shipping

  • Lawries, circa 1930, nickel and ivory

    This is a classic late 1920s-1930 Lawrie set distinguished by large beads on the ivory projecting mounts.

    The set was in very good condition, and a complete strip revealed no cracks. The set was refinished, and fissures in the ivory bass ring and the blowstick projecting mount were filled and stabilized.  The blowpipe stock is a poly replica with the original mount. The tapered nickel mounts are in mint condition.

    The set played with a rich, steady sound that locked nicely. The tenors tune a touch low.

    Email me about this set.

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

    Set up to play by Jim McGillivray with Ross or Bannatyne bag, polypenco chanter of choice, Ezeedrone drone reeds, Highland Gear bag cover, plain coloured silk drone cords, plastic chanter cap. (To add Ross or Bannatyne Canister system and Ross valve/watertrap, add CAD $165) (For an African Blackwood chanter instead of polypenco, request add-on price.)
    CAD $4,395  plus shipping

  • Center, circa 1900, blackwood, ivory, nickel

    SOLD -This set came to me as a John Center set. The styling and workmanship are superb; this pipe was made by an experienced maker.

    A crack in the bass top has been invisibly whipped. The set came with no blowstick stock, so a replica was made and a matching ferrule found. The blowstick has also been invisible whipped to seal a crack.

    The pipes displayed a very ‘mellow’ tone — rich, subdued, much in the Edinburgh tradition.  They locked nicely and maintained a gentle but resonant sound with my Canning drone reeds.  There is lots of character here and an elegant looking instrument with refined tone.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks only
    CAD $3,450 plus shipping

    Set up to play by Jim McGillivray with Ross or Bannatyne bag, polypenco chanter of choice, Ezeedrone drone reeds, Highland Gear bag cover, plain coloured silk drone cords, plastic chanter cap. (To add Ross or Bannatyne Canister system and Ross valve/watertrap, add CAD $165) (For an African Blackwood chanter instead of polypenco, request add-on price.)
    CAD $4,195  plus shipping

  • Donald MacDonald, circa 1830s, cocuswood, marine ivory

    SOLD – This is the oldest and one of the most significant sets we’ve had on the site. Donald MacDonald made pipes from approximately 1800 until 1840 and his influences are still apparent today.

    This set was owned for many years by a piper in Victoria, British Columbia, who purchased them as a set of MacDougalls. Though the set was not stamped, the visuals checked out with known MacDonald sets, convincing at least three vintage bagpipe experts that these are indeed Donald MacDonald pipes.

    As might be expected of an instrument that is nearly 200 years old, there have been some repairs.  Invisible whipping has been done on the bass top, one tenor top, and the lower portion of the bass middle.

    All pieces appear to be original except for the blowpipe, which is a poly-lined replica with a nicely matching holly mount. The tenor rings appear to be elephant ivory, as does one bass projecting mount, and these are likely replacements.

    The tenor bottoms have at some point had brass sleeves installed, almost certainly to make the drones tune higher.

    Tonally, the drones are marvellous: quite robust, rich and steady.

    To see a video on this instrument and to hear it played in studio conditions, please click here.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks only
    Offers over CAD$13,500 plus shipping

    Set up to play by Jim McGillivray with Ross or Bannatyne bag, polypenco chanter of choice, Ezeedrone drone reeds, Highland Gear bag cover, plain coloured silk drone cords, plastic chanter cap. (To add Ross or Bannatyne Canister system and Ross valve/watertrap, add CAD $165) (For an African Blackwood chanter instead of polypenco, request add-on price.)
    Purchase price plus $700,  plus shipping