J Leir Sewing Table with Concealed Fortepiano


J Leir,
Germany (1846)
Sewing Table Fortepiano

This instrument is a very special edition to the ANU Keyboard Institute. The keyboard is hidden within a decorative sewing table, and the lid is held open with a mirror panel for the performer to admire themselves as they played. The central unit contains many sewing storage cases, and a pincushion. The entire body of the instrument is ornamented with ivory and mother of pearl inlay, with a rosewood case.

Little is known about this instrument, apart from the recent history of its ownership. Kurt Albrecht found and owned the instrument in his antique dealership in Melbourne. In 1995, the instrument was given to his niece, Mrs Elizabeth Walden, who had the instrument restored in 2009 by Mr Carey Beeb (a harpsichord technician based in Sydney). Beeb suggested the instrument be donated to the ANU Collection, and with the help of Dr Geoffrey Lancaster, the instrument was loaned to the Keyboard Institute in 2011. 

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Updated:  12 June 2013/Responsible Officer:  Head, School of Music/Page Contact:  Development Officer