This square piano is thought to have been made by Collard and Collard of London and bears a decorative nameplate stating: "Manufactured expressly for F. Ellard, Sydney". Francis Ellard, one of the first dealers of musical instruments in Australia, was part of an extended family that comprised singers, musicians, composers and teachers; this family had a significant influence on musical life in Sydney from the 1830s to at least the 1850s. The piano is especially significant as it was purchased, presumably from Ellard, by a Bathurst family in 1838 and remained in the same family and homestead until it was purchased by the donor in 1999.
Ellard arrived in Sydney with his wife Joanna and two children aboard the "Lavinia" on 6 December 1832. This ship sailed from Liverpool via Hobart Town. Ellard is described in the shipping list and SMH (10/12/1832) as a merchant from Ireland. He is listed in W O'Shaughnessey's Australian Almanack and Sydney Directory for the years 1834 and 1835 as a musical instrument maker and music seller at Hunter Street (p.286 & p.424 respectively). In Ford's Commercial Directory of Sydney in 1851 he is described as a "musical instrument maker, and Pianoforte tuner and repairer" situated at 52 Pitt Street south. Despite being described as an instrument maker, he is mainly regarded as having been a dealer and agent for imported instruments. There appears to be no evidence to suggest that he was a maker, and most surviving instruments bearing his name indicate they were sold rather than made by him. Ellard died in Sydney in 1854 aged 56.
Ellard was a contemporary of John Benham, who is credited as being Australia's first piano maker. Benham's only extant piano, dating from about 1835, is also in the Powerhouse Museum's collection, as is an organ by Australia's first organ builder, William Johnson dating from about 1845. Another square piano in the museum's collection, made by Robert Wolf of London, also bears an internal label stating it was sold by F Ellard, Sydney on 22nd March 1841. Ellard was at one time also listed as an agent for Wolf pianos.
Curator, Music & Musical Instruments