Johannes Zumpe, London 1773
Zumpe was one of the instrument makers who came from Germany to London in the early 1750’s. He first started working for Burkat Shudi. In the early 1760’s he started working for himself, first making ‘English guittars’, then making little square pianos like this one. He is considered to be the first to make this kind of little piano in a time when the harpsichord was still in its golden age.
His earliest existing examples are from 1766. Some 60 instruments might still exist.
The little piano got so popular immediately that he couldn’t cope with the demand. Johann Christian Bach and Charles Burney were among his clients.
Many of Zumpe’s colleagues (and countrymen) started making them as well, Pohlmann, Beck, Ganer, Buntebart, Sievers, Schoene, all got into this successful business.
The instruments were exported all over Europe.
The miniature is of an unknown lady attributed to Richard Crosse, ca. 1775
The instrument is playable and was bought is this condition, restored at an earlier stage. Almost everything is original but maybe, unfortunately, it might have gotten a new soundboard at some point.