Longman & Broderip square pianoforte, ca. 1790
This five octave pianoforte is inscribed Longman & Broderip Musical Instrument Makers, No.26 Cheapside & No.13 Haymarket, London on the nameboard. Henry Knox purchased a pianoforte from Thomas Dodds in New York in 1788, and a pianoforte was on the inventory of furnishings shipped to Montpelier in 1796. Local legend says it was the first such instrument seen in the District of Maine. Knox’s daughter, Lucy Flucker Thatcher, recalled playing it at a small gathering of 500 people when the General and his family first moved to Montpelier, and that it was a source of wonder for the townspeople.This pianoforte was in the auction following Lucy Flucker Thatcher’s death and was passed down among local families before being donated to Montpelier, but it is not certain this is the pianoforte Knox bought in New York. There is some indication in Caroline Knox Holmes correspondence that a second piano may have been at Montpelier during her marriage to John Holmes. In Lucy Flucker Thatcher’s will, she bequeathed the piano that belonged to my sister Caroline to one of her musically-inclined grandchildren, which is slightly odd if it was the same piano she herself played well before Caroline’s birth. Thomas Dodds was a piano maker from London, and began appearing in New York directories about 1786. He began aggressively competing with European makers once he formed the partnership of Dodds and Claus about 1792. However, it is possible Knox obtained this Longman & Broderip from Dodds; he did deal in second-hand instruments and may have also sold imported instruments.
Donated to Montpelier by Mrs. Helen Smith.
Accession number: A-8-03