Anonymous ca. 1780 "John Sellers" square piano, replica

This piano was built by the Connecticut Chapter of PTG in 1975 on the occasion of the American bicentennial celebration. It loosely copies an instrument in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, thought at that time perhaps to have been made by John Behrent or James Juhan in Philadelphia, who supposedly built some of the earliest American pianos. The piano’s original nameboard had been replaced with one from a later John Sellers piano. In any case, the replica represents an early American square piano, modeled after Germanic types, with an action that was the predecessor to those referred to nowadays as "Viennese."

Range of four and a half octaves, C2 to F6.

There are no dampers. 

The tuning pins are on the right. The lowest ten strings are single-strung, the remainder bichord.


The leather-covered hammers pivot on center pins that pass through upright wooden forks attached to the keys. The hammer shank has a beak that protrudes behind the center pin and catches on an overhanging rail , or Prelleiste, when the key is depressed. This catch causes the hammer to be propelled toward its strings.

The knee lever operates a "moderator," or buff stop, which lowers a strip of felt (possibly leather originally) onto the strings, muting them somewhat. 

The original in the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History. The lowest ten bass strings of the original were loosely wrapped as in our Buntebart, with the wrappings crossing the bridge.