Brunk Auctions
Live Auction

Premier Auction - Session II | November 12, 2022

Sat, Nov 12, 2022 09:00AM EST
Lot 690

Very Fine Classical Rosewood and Bronze Pianoforte, Sack Provenance

Estimate: $6,000 - $9,000

Bid Increments

Price Bid Increment
$0 $25
$100 $50
$1,000 $100
$2,000 $200
$3,000 $250
$5,000 $500
$10,000 $1,000
$20,000 $2,000
$50,000 $5,000
$100,000 $10,000

brass plaque inscribed "Made by A. Babcock for G. D. MacKay, Boston", circa 1825, highly figured mahogany and rosewood case with ebonizing, brass inlay and moldings, gilt mounts and hardware, original playing mechanism, 34 x 68 x 24 in.

?This lot contains animal or plant material that may be restricted under federal, state and/or local law. Prospective bidders should check all applicable government wildlife restrictions prior to placing a bid. The buyer is solely responsible for obtaining any necessary licenses or permits from federal, state and/or local authorities applicable to their purchase or transport of the object. Please note that bidders in New Jersey may not bid on any lots containing elephant ivory, mammoth ivory, or rhinoceros horn.


Illustrated in American Antiques from Israel Sack Collection, Volume VII, pp. 1810-1811, P5029. Sack notes that the piano is also illustrated in Old Time New England Bulletin, 1978, "Pianoforte Manufacturing in 19th century Boston", Nancy A. Smith, figure 4. Sack notes that the original instrumentation is intact.

Babcock was a leading piano maker and his instruments had some of the most sophisticated cases made in the period. Similar Babcock pianos are in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (2001.364A,B) and the Smithsonian (1982.0434.01). Identical Babcock pianos are in the collection of the MFA Boston (1971.1130) and Winterthur (1989.0064). A third identical piano at Historic New England (2005.23.1) is discussed as part of the furnishings prepared in 1824 for Lafayette's visit to Boston (Mussey and Pearce, Rather Elegant than Showy, The Classical Furniture of Isaac Vowes pages 192-193).

Identical examples:

MFA Boston (1971.1130):

Winterthur (1989.0064):

Historic New England (2005.23.1):

Related Babcock examples:

The Met (2001.364a, b):

Smithsonian (1982.0434.01):

Background on Important Private Collection from Boston:
I have been working with this collector for over 25 years, both in the initial acquisition of the objects and overseeing their conservation as needed. With a keen eye for quality and design, and a deep passion for all things classical, he has quietly amassed a top-notch collection of American furniture and decorative arts. The collection encompasses outstanding examples from the leading cabinetmakers of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, representing excellence in form and proportions, condition, wood quality, and carving. It also includes rare objects that are among the best of their kind. Now, with the downsizing of one of his properties, the offerings in this catalog are coming to market to find new owners who share a love for this remarkable period in American furniture history.
Clark Pearce,
Advisor and Consultant to Collectors and Institutions

Provenance: Israel Sack; Property from an Important Boston Collection


works are original and have been restored (not tested for functionality), finely crafted and in excellent condition overall, some minor sun fading and color variation, restorations and/or re-gilding to some mounts, very minor lifting at some brass inlay, other scattered minor veneer flaws, some small banding losses, minor lifting at ivory keys

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