It was not until the 1890s that design reformers attempted a radical re-styling of the upright, or cottage, piano - a common piece of 19th-century domestic furniture. Despite manufacturers' carved embellishments, pianos were generally perceived as ungainly and over-complicated designs. M.H. Baillie Scott's innovation was to enclose the keyboard, music stand and candleholders behind broad doors that rationalised the shape of the instrument.
Critical praise of the Manxman piano did not translate into large sales for its London manufacturer, Broadwood & Sons, Great Pulteney Street, Soho, who only made an estimated 40 examples. This piano failed to sell until 1910 when it was bought at a discount by the piano dealer J.C. Shirwin & Sons of Hanley, Staffordshire. The designer, C.R. Ashbee, designed a very similar piano for Broadwood in about 1900.
Design & Designing
The piano's form most closely resembles a Spanish 17th-century chest on a stand, or vargueno. In 1901 the Architectural Review suggested that it was inspired by 'an old strong box of the Elizabethan period'. Both forms were inspiration to Arts and Crafts designers of the late 19th century.