Helen’s Holbein upright


Holbein illuminated

Holbein illuminated

There is no way to get to Craigleith Hill Rd., according to its neighbours.  But I am glad I persisted through Craigleith Hill Mews,Craigleith Hill Avenue,Craigleith Hill Street.,Craigleith Hill Close andCraigleith Hill Path; those McCleods are worth the odyssey.  And their piano.  Another English-with-a-German name or German birdcage upright in immaculate original condition from the early 20th century.  Another wonderful Scot, Helen looks kind of like me – shoeless, wild bandana and all.  But she’s not so much a hippie as a lovely retired schoolteacher who recently beat back cancer via chemo.



Hepburn Brothers of Paisley solf the Holbein upright piano way back

Hepburn Brothers sold the Holbein in the 1930s

Malkin mould on keys behind Holbein ivories

Mould on keys behind ivories

The Holbein was bought new by a relative, eons ago in Paisley.  Now it sits in Edinburgh beneath the 5th-grade masterpiece by her daughter, now in her 20s, of a lion with soulful eyes (the girl became a dentist).

The keyboard wood behind the ivories is covered in mould because of a moisture rod the dealer Allan Makin sold her, not sure why, while he was there tuning a decade ago.  That mould is something. And a wee creature or two has moved into the action.

When we relocated from NYC almost a year ago, I thought I’d hate tuning in the UK.  I thought it would be like England was for me in the 80s: ill-tempered Lady Shmuckface letting me in through the servants’ entrance to tune her horrible wrecked piano for the price of tube fare and a pot of tea.  Scotland’s the opposite.   Now I can’t live elsewhere.

McCleod Holbein P5 amazing artistry

P5 amazing artistry


Peter Smith of PS Pianos, 2nd Hand Pianos, Grand Pianos, Upright Pianos, Paisley, Scotland, says of this piano:

From the pictures….There was never to my knowledge an manufacturer named Holbein; I would assume it was a name used for marketing purposes.  I would assume from the style of the serial number that the manufacturer would be Kemble.  I would place the piano’s year of manufacture to be some time during the 1930’s.  Possibly the late 1930’s…..just about the time of the 2nd world war.  The cabinet would also lean towards that thinking.

One thought on “Helen’s Holbein upright

  1. David Boyce

    Oh, I see so much old “arrested” mildew! I suppose the humidifier bar is better than the jar of water in the base of an upright piano. But are either ever really necessary in Scotland? i;ve got a few mould pics on the ‘jar of water’ page of my website. And pics of pianos just like that on the Birdcage Pianos page.

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