It is not often a classic bagpipe such as that offered for sale on Piping Press today becomes available. The instrument is a 1908 Peter Henderson bagpipe in silver and ivory. It has a considerable pedigree.
Owner Neil Clark bought the bagpipe from Pipe Major Ian Duncan of the Atholl Highlanders a couple of years ago but since retiring from competing now feels that such a quality instrument should be getting played at the highest level.
Neil writes: ‘When I stopped competing I toyed with the idea of holding on to them, but they are spending five days a week above my wardrobe and coming out for weddings. I can do that with any ordinary set.
‘I am asking for offers over £5,500 ($7,000US approx.) and the price includes a good Naill chanter. Pipes are Peter Henderson 1908, engraved silver and ivory. Since buying them I haven’t played them all that much in competition but they took prizes at Balloch and Airth, beating two Gold Medallists.
‘The original box goes with them. It belonged to a pal of the owner, a William Ferguson, who didn’t survive the first war. The blowstick stock is not original but the blowstick is. The mouthpiece is an addition, and can be replaced by the buyer. The original silver chanter sole is included in the price. They can be sold ready to go, sheepskin bag, reeded with Ezeedrones, and the Niall chanter is set up.’
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Peter Henderson (pictured top) is one of the most revered names in the history of bagpipe making. Vintage sets of this firm’s instruments are among the most highly sought after in world piping. In her book, ‘Highland Bagpipe Makers’, Jeannie Campbell records that Henderson took over the workshop of Donald MacPhee in Glasgow circa. May 1880. As well as making top quality instruments he was a music publisher, producing his own tutor book and collections of tunes.
After various relocations the business settled at 24 Renfrew Street in the city centre and it was then it became a mecca for all pipers, not just those in the warm heart of the bagpipe universe. This was largely due to the presence, from 1908, of the manager, one P/M John MacDougall Gillies, a renowned master, revered in both the solo and pipe band worlds of the time.
His connection with the firm did nothing at all to harm its reputation and this respect continued right up until 1973 when it was bought over by RG Hardie & Co.
Jeannie’s book records this from an old Peter Henderson catalogue: ‘The late Mr Peter Henderson founded, in Scotland,…the firm in 1868. A piper of great ability, he set a standard in bagpipe manufacture that has never been surpassed. Ninety-five per cent of professional pipers all over the world are using Henderson pipes, while ninety per cent of the competing bands at all contests use our instruments in order to obtain a clearness and uniformity of tone that can only be produced from these pipes….
‘Among the orders received from all over the world have been requests for sets Full Mounted in Gold; completely in ivory and fully carved sets, all of which have been carried out in our own workshops.’