The Powerhouse acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the ancestral homelands upon which our museums are situated. We respect their Elders, past, present and future and recognise their continuous connection to Country.
2003/168/1 Upright Piano, 'Hapsburg', timber / metal, made for Beale & Company, [Germany / Australia], 1882-1902.. Click to enlarge.

'Hapsburg' upright piano by Beale & Company

Beale and Company was the largest producer of pianos in Australia from the 1890s through to the early 1960s. Being a Sydney based firm they are of particular significance to the museum's musical instrument collection which has a strong collection of Australian made pianos including the earliest surviving Australian made piano by John Benham of Sydney dating from about 1835 through to the state of the art Stuart and Sons concert grand piano made in 1998-1999.

The Beale Company was founded by …


Object No.


Object Statement

Upright Piano, 'Hapsburg', timber / metal, made for Beale & Company, [Germany / Australia], 1882-1902.

Physical Description

Upright Piano, 'Hapsburg', timber / metal, made for Beale & Company, [Germany / Australia], 1882-1902.

Upright piano, with seven octave compass from A to A. Timber case with walnut veneer. Upper front panel features carved floral motifs within routed decorative border. Floral motifs also carved into fall board and lower front panel. The top most lid opens to reveal hammer and dampers. Overdamper action. No serial number is present. Candelabra is missing. An inlaid brass name plate is on the underside of the fall board above the music rest. The blackened iron frame is stamped with 'Hapsburg'. The piano has two pedals. It is on wheels.


Text on name plate, in gold 'HAPSBURG / BEALE & (castle) COMPANY.'

Stamped onto iron frame, within border 'Hapsburg'.



1190 mm


1390 mm


600 mm




The piano was probably designed in Germany to a standard industrial trade design of the late nineteenth century. The Hapsburg Beale piano was the early type of upright piano Beale imported from Germany and then sold in Australia, prior to them commencing actual piano production in this country.

The piano was possibly made in Germany between 1882-1902. The trade mark name "Hapsburg" was applied for by OC Beale in 1882. Newspaper advertisements for Beale from 1882 include several models of Hapsburg piano (both straight strung and obliquely strung versions) and state they were "manufactured expressly for the Australian climate" and imported only by Beale and Company. (eg. Sydney Morning Herald 20/5/1882, p.3).

A later newspaper article states that the firm initially tried to manufacture pianos in Germany which were made to suit the Australian climate which they then imported but later found that by manufacturing some of the parts in Australia, such as the case and soundboard and using Australian timbers, that the pianos were better suited to the Australian climate. Some parts of the mechanism were still imported from Germany. These were also known as Hapsburg pianos (SMH 12/12/1896 p.5). The article also states that; "For carrying out its operations the firm has a large establishment and much machinery, some of the machines in use being specially designed and made for their work, and being probably the only ones of their kind in Australia. They consist of moulding machines of various kinds, sandpapering, grooving, dovetailing machines, and machines specially constructed for turning out with mechanical regularity various parts of the mechanism which in Germany are laboriously made by hand." The article suggests more than 10,000 pianos had been sold by the firm since it started making the pianos in Australia (up to December 1896).

Michael Lea
Curator, music & musical instruments
November 2010.



The piano was bought by the donor's mother in 1947 from a local music store in Ashfield. The donor was training to be an infants school teacher and playing the piano was a requirement for the course. The piano was later used by the donor's daughter as a practice instrument and used for family sing-alongs. No work was done to the piano apart from it being tuned.


Credit Line

Gift of Mrs Heather Adams, 2003

Acquisition Date

27 October 2003

Cite this Object


'Hapsburg' upright piano by Beale & Company 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 17 October 2021, <>


{{cite web |url= |title='Hapsburg' upright piano by Beale & Company |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=17 October 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}