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Technique & Instrument Related to techniques, to the instrument, to the components, to maintenance.

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Old 09-13-2018, 05:59 AM   #1
b4gp1p3r
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Default Robertson Identification

Hi all,

I was given a set of bagpipes to setup and I was given no information on them except that they belonged to a now defunct band. After some searching online, I believe they are Robertsons.



I was wondering if anyone could help me confirm the approximate age of these pipes. To my eye, they look identical to the pipes listed on this webpage: http://www.thebagpipemuseum.com/Robertson_1.html

I was also wondering if anyone could identify the material used on the drone tops. I recognize this material from other old sets of Robertsons and perhaps it could help to give an idea of the age. As seen in the image below, it has become full of hairline cracks.



Below are some other close ups of the pipes.







Thanks in advance for any help.
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Old 09-13-2018, 06:06 AM   #2
Milly
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Default Re: Robertson Identification

They are indeed Robertson Bagpipes. The caps are made from a material called Catalin. This material is very common on Old Robertson bagpipes. I wouldn’t venture a guess on their vintage
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Old 09-13-2018, 06:20 AM   #3
Søren E. Larsen
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Default Re: Robertson Identification

I think the material is casein instead of caselin?
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Old 09-13-2018, 07:11 AM   #4
Rooklidge
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Default Re: Robertson Identification

Post war blackwood Robertsons with casein drone rings/bushes. Very nice and solid pipe.
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Old 09-13-2018, 07:29 AM   #5
Patrick McLaurin
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Default Re: Robertson Identification

Catalin is the stuff that turns orange. Polymerized casein (milk protein) stays white-ish but gets chalky (and this is what was used on many old Robertsons).
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Old 09-13-2018, 12:11 PM   #6
Green Piper
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Default Re: Robertson Identification

The material is casein. It is made from milk protein and can be turned.

Robertson used this as did other makers in the early to mid-20th century. According to Ringo Bowen, Robertson made very high quality casein and it is more robust that that used by other makers.

My Robertson drones are mid-1930’s and there are some similarities between your drones and mine:

The ferrules are very similar as are the drone tops. The drones have a slight flair to them. Earlier drones had a much more prominent flair.

The casein on your look pretty beat up. Luckily (for me) mine are not as bad. The casein can be protected by coating with varnish containing a touch of cyanoacrylate. I have not yet had this treatment done, but it is something that bagpipe restoration experts can do.

Robertson drones are notoriously consistent from set to set as well as stable. I use Ezeedrone tenor reeds and currently a Kinnaird Evo bass. Sometimes people post about older drones not being able to tune as high as modern ones, but with my Robertson’s, this is simply not true.

The stocks (on mine) were slightly narrower-bored than my McCallums. When I replaced them with DroneDri stocks, the steadiness and robustness of the drones dramatically increased.

Send a few pics to Ringo Bowen. He can do a full appraisal via good quality photos for a small fee. I this is useful with my older pipes as it specifically states that they’re old, ivory-free, and not ABW should I ever travel across an international boundary.

Hope this helps.

Charlie
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Old 09-14-2018, 01:11 AM   #7
b4gp1p3r
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Default Re: Robertson Identification

Quote:
Originally Posted by Green Piper View Post

Robertson drones are notoriously consistent from set to set as well as stable. I use Ezeedrone tenor reeds and currently a Kinnaird Evo bass. Sometimes people post about older drones not being able to tune as high as modern ones, but with my Robertson’s, this is simply not true.

Charlie
I must say I have no problem getting the tenors to tune just above the hemp line either. I plugged in a set of Ezee tenors and a Henderson Carbon Bass and the tone is excellent. Very well blended drones with plenty of projection. You almost have to check both tenor drones are still going as they blend so well together.

They are also remarkable steady and easy to tune together. I would see no problem in playing these pipes up to a grade 1 level.
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Old 09-14-2018, 01:14 AM   #8
b4gp1p3r
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Default Re: Robertson Identification

Interesting to discover that the material is casein. I have seen material before on sets of Robertson pipes, often in a similar poor condition. I had always wrongly asumed it was a natural material due to the way it cracked and had the misconception it was some sort of bone or antler!
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Old 09-14-2018, 01:35 AM   #9
b4gp1p3r
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Default Re: Robertson Identification

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rooklidge View Post
Post war blackwood Robertsons with casein drone rings/bushes. Very nice and solid pipe.
Would you estimate late 1940s?
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Old 09-14-2018, 10:22 AM   #10
Rooklidge
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Default Re: Robertson Identification

Quote:
Originally Posted by b4gp1p3r View Post
Would you estimate late 1940s?


Into the 1950s because of the not too drastic convex (bulging) profile. Ringo could narrow the era, but we're only talking about a couple decades, and that's a pretty tight range in pipe dating. Either way, you have a very good pipe, and that is always a wonderful thing.
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