Square Piano

Description (Brief)
This square piano was made by Alpheus Babcock, for William Swift, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania around 1833-1837. It is the only surviving Babcock from the period in which he worked as foreman at William Swift’s factory. Alpheus Babcock is best known for his invention of the one-piece metal frame for square pianos, patented December 17, 1825 in Boston. This piano is one of three known pianos with his patented iron frame. This piano is serial number 1517 and has a compass of FF-f4, Babcock patent action, leather top over layers of felt hammers (not original), double-strings, some wound, 2 pedals: moderator and dampers, Babcock’s patented one-piece cast iron frame, and a crotch mahogany veneered case.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Babcock, Alpheus
Physical Description
iron (strings: material)
leather (hammers: material)
iron (frame: material)
wood (case: material)
overall: 90.6 cm x 177 cm x 73.1 cm; 35 11/16 in x 69 11/16 in x 28 3/4 in
Place Made
United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
ID Number
serial number
accession number
catalog 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
Babcock Square Piano
Credit Line
Gift of Hugo Worch
Additional Media

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