Nägelé Square Piano

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Description (Brief)
This square piano is attributed to Jn. Nägelé in Paris, France after 1800. The inscription on the nameboard reads “Jn. Nägelé / Rue de la Tixérandérie en face du Mouton No 15 à Paris 1785.” It is doubtful that this piano was made by Nägelé as several factors about this instrument are problematic. Though the nameboard is inscribed with the date 1785, it was originally made for a smaller instrument and has been extended on both ends. There is also indication that the compass of the piano has been extended. 1785 is too early a date for a piano with this compass. This piano is serial number 15 and has a compass of FF-f4, single (Zumpe) action, leather hammers, double-strings throughout, first 12 notes are wound, tuning pins on the right, 2 knee levers: lute (missing) and dampers, wood frame, and a wood case.
Currently not on view
date made
Place Made
France: Île-de-France, Paris
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Hugo Worch
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Musical Instruments
Music & Musical Instruments
Data Source
National Museum of American History


"I recently found out about the existence of this piano by Nägelé in your collection and I think it is fantastic!I don't think you can say that it is not a piano by Nägelé. I have one piano myself of 1789 which has been "ravallé " in the same manner (by a maker just as little known as Nägelé), it was common practice in Paris especially in the 1790s as an influence from the larger and larger keyboards coming from England. I have just proven that the first 6 octaves forté piano I have found historical evidence for is an Erard in 1798; nothing before (I mean designed as a 6 octave piano from the start by its maker)What i mean is that the fact that the nameboard was originally smaller and that it was extended do not mean that this is a "fake " Nägelé.I'd love to see more photos of details of this piano and i could send you mine.Oh i was going to forget... My piano has been restaured by the best specialists, and i have done great research and now it plays beautifully all sorts of unknown composers of the period and the most demanding specialists love it precisely because there are very very few pianos like that whihc have survived (i mean extended early pianos) which in themselves are a living testimony of the evolution of mechanics but also of the musical tastes in those transitional years.Is it possible to exchange photographs of the details of the mechanism. It might useful for both of "us ". Did you restore it (do you intend to? is it possible?) Didier Girard"
"Thank you for your information. It will be added to the research files. This square piano attributed to Nägelé has not been restored. There are no current plans to restore it. The only images of this piano are on this web page. Further research will need to be done on this piano to determine its precise provenance, including comparing it to simiar pianos of the era. "

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