This much-published instrument, with a rosewood and cut brass case, can clearly be seen among the furnishings of the Entrance Hall in a plate from John Nash’s Views of the Royal Pavilion, 1826.
The original invoice from the London maker Thomas Tomkison for 225 guineas (well over twice the cost of a standard top-quality grand piano at the time) survives in the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle while a note inside the piano states simply For the King.
Born in London c.1764 and first recorded as a piano maker in 1802, relatively little is known of Tomkison.
However, from at least 1809 his nameboard cartouches declared him to be Maker to his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and, from 1811, Maker to the Prince Regent. He is renowned for his flamboyant approach to case decoration that doubtless suited George’s adventurous taste.
Until recently the piano – once played by a 13-yearold Franz Liszt at Windsor – had been on loan to the Colt Clavier Collection of early keyboard instruments assembled by CF Colt in the 1950s and housed at the village hall of Bethersden in Kent. The executors of his widow Lore Barbara Colt, who died recently, consigned it for sale along with four other pianos.
Specialist Richard Reason of Piano Auctions told ATG: “We had interest from collectors from around the world for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Valued at £30,000-50,000, a bidding contest at the Conway Hall, Holborn, was won by a representative of the Royal Pavilion and Museums Foundation.
Commenting on the acquisition, Alan Robins said: “Prince Regent’s piano has long been on our wish list so we’re thrilled to be bringing it back to its rightful home.
“The piano is playable but as it’s been dormant for 20 years will need some restoration. It would be amazing to be able to hear music of the period played on it.”