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Object Name Piano, Square
Date 1840s or earlier
Description Square piano in an unusual style. The nameboard has an incised inscription on a square of gold leaf: "O. [2 unidentified initials] Whittlesey / Makers / New York". The case has mahogany veneer, with massive 4-sided legs. The interior is rosewood veneer around the keyboard, with a slightly curved nameboard; the keys are recessed from the front of the case. The range is FF - f4 (6 octaves). The lock is stamped "LEWIS MCKEE & CO."
Ownership and History This piano shows an unusual expression of the Empire style; it is a rare and possibly unique example with remarkable veneering.

The"Whittlesey" inscription indicates that this piano was made by the Whittlesey brothers, John, Henry, and Orramel, who were active mainly in Salem, Connecticut. Orramel Whittlesey is also noted for having founded the Music Vale Seminary in the 1830s; it is considered to be one of the first music conservatories in the country. There is some evidence that Orramel Whittlesey spent time in Newark, New Jersey in the 1840s, and that an apprentice, Henry J. Newton of New York, may have used the Whittlesey name on some pianos before establishing his own firm around 1850.
Earliest Date 1820
Latest Date 1850
Maker Whittlesey
Subjects Pianos
Musical instruments
Lexicon Sub-category Musical T&E
Catalog Number X93.0748
Support Acknowledgment Online Collections Database record made possible by the Staten Island Historical Society, October 2015.
Legal Status Images and text in this database are copyrighted by the Staten Island Historical Society unless otherwise noted. Items represented here are from the collections of the Staten Island Historical Society. Materials reproduced for personal non-commercial use must credit the Staten Island Historical Society. Commercial licensing is available.