This costly showpiece of Renaissance and Rococo Revival eclecticism, an obvious status symbol perhaps intended for display at New York's Crystal Palace exposition, elevated the reputation of the English immigrants Robert Nunns and John Clark, partners in New York since 1833; they had exhibited an equally ornate piano in London in 1851.
Built on the scale
of a billiard table, this massive rosewood instrument stands on
elephantine legs surmounted by lush carved bouquets. Slips of
mother-of-pearl, tortoiseshell, and abalone embellish the seven-octave
keyboard. Within, a lacquered iron frame reinforces the case.
felt-covered hammers could have been made by machines invented by
Rudolph Kreter, who assigned his patent to Nunns & Clark in 1853. At
that time, some eighty employees, including members of the Steinway
family, were producing about three hundred instruments annually at Nunns
& Clark's factory in Setauket,Long Island.