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Thomas Tomkison c. 1815


Date: 1815

Origin: London

Serialnumber: stamped: 4672 - inked: 1274

Thomas Tomkison was one of the most renowned piano makers in England in the early 19th century. Over the time, he was forgotten and companies like Broadwood, Clementi or Stodart became more famous and hid his work.  Over the past years one could recognise an increasing interest in his work. Little is known about Thomas Tomkison so far. His instruments prove their high level of craftsmanship and charming sound. There are currently two Thomas Tomkison square pianos in the Eric Feller Collection.


The case of the instrument is made of mahogany and rosewood with surrounding inlays in brass. The instrument rests on 4 turned legs. The keyboard is made of ivory and ebony and it has a compass of 5 ½ octaves (FF – c4) with a double action and single dampers. The hammers are covered with leather.

There is also a wooden pedal for controlling the dampers. The nameboard is made of rosewood with brass inlays and is signed in a cartouche with:

“Thomas Tomkison


There are two serial numbers. One is stamped on the left with: 4672 and the other handwritten number is: 1274. This numbers show that the piano was made around 1815.

Like other companies Thomas Tomkison produced different models of instruments. The prices varied depending on the version and the used materials and decoration. Using rosewood and brass inlays are clear signs of a high-priced instrument. The instrument impresses with an absolutely high-quality craftsmanship and a clear and charming sound.



For the time being very little is known about Thomas Tomkison. He was actively detectable from 1799 to 1851 and had his workshop in Dean Street Soho 55/77 in London. From 1778 he began his apprenticeship as a piano maker. Recent research shows that Tomkison emerged in late 1798 / early 1799 as the successor to bankrupt piano maker James Henry Houston and that there are remarkable similarities between the first pianos of Tomkison’s workshop and the surviving instruments from Houston. Within a few years, Tomkison became a serious competitor to the many major piano factories in London and his instruments were highly valued. Because of Tomkisons’ outstanding craftsmanship and business skills, a large number of his instruments have been exported to America, Australia and India. He died on November 10, 1853.



Further surviving instruments by Thomas Tomkison:

  • 1808 grand piano (No. 317) – University of Leipzig, Musical Instrument Museum, Leipzig Germany
  • c. 1816 square piano (No. 4202) – John R. Watson, Williamsburg, USA


Thomas Tomkison, London ca. 1815 (nameboard) - Eric Feller Collection

Thomas Tomkison, London ca. 1815 (nameboard) – Eric Feller Collection

Length: 169 cm

Width: 65 cm

Height: 23,5 cm

Circumference: 5 1/2 octaves, (FF - c4)

Mechanics: Double Action with single dampers

Pedals: 1 pedal - dampers

Signature: „Thomas Tomkison