An old type of piano
which was popular during the 18th and first half of the 19th century.
It combines the horizontal strings of a grand piano with the small size of an upright piano making it ideally for upper-class houses which lacked the space for a grand piano. When the lid is closed the piano forms a square table (hence its name). When opened it looks and sounds like a grand piano (only with fewer keys).
The precise origin of the square piano isn't entirely certain. Some claim it originates in Germany, others say it was invented in Great Britain. One thing is known: the origin of the square piano can be found in the clavichord. The first square pianos were actually clavichords with the pins replaced by hammers (the instrument no longer pulls a string, but hits it).
In time the square pianos evolved. They got bigger, some even needed six legs to support the piano! The sound got better, especially after the introduction of a metal frame. Metal is stronger then wood allowing more tension on the strings, which makes it possible to create more volume.
John Broadwood & Sons is one of the most famous factories in Europe where this type of piano was produced from 1775 until 1865. Their square pianos were ordered by many kings, queens and princesses throughout Europe. Therefore the following was added to the nametags on their piano's: "Makers to their Majesties & the Princesses".
Production of square pianos stopped soon after the mass-production of upright pianos started. The production of these pianos turned out to be much cheaper!
In America Steinway made its name with the production of square pianos. The model became quite popular in America, even after the production had stopped in Europe. Large scale production of square pianos stopped at the beginning of the 20th century in America.