Hawkins Upright Piano

Description (Brief)
This upright piano was made by John Isaac Hawkins in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1801. Hawkins patented an ingenious small upright piano with a folding keyboard, of which the Smithsonian’s is an example. Other piano experiments were an upright instrument, the Claviol, which bowed the strings, a system of attaching the strings to a nut on a threaded rod, and the use of springs as strings in the bass. Only three of his instruments are known to survive. This piano is serial number 6 and has a compass of FF-f3, Hawkins upright action, felt hammers (originally leather), double-strings, 2 pedals: moderator and swell (which opens shutters in the case below the keyboard), wood frame with iron bars behind the soundboard, straight-strung, and a mahogany veneer case with metal carrying handles.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Hawkins, John Isaac
Physical Description
felt (originally leather) (hammers: material)
wood with iron bars (frame: material)
mahogany veneer (case: material)
overall: 109.85 cm x 90.17 cm x 38.6 cm; 43 1/4 in x 35 1/2 in x 15 3/16 in
Place Made
United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Music & Musical Instruments
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Musical Instruments
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Hugo Worch
Additional Media

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