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This double piano was an innovative creation of the Parisian firm Pleyel, whose instruments were the favourites of composers and pianists such as: Chopin, Grieg, Debussy, Saint-Saëns and Stravinsky.

The first one was completed in c1890 and production continued until c1939.  It was patented as the Duo-Clave and in the c1920’s they produced a larger model.

The instrument can best be described as two overstrung grands in one rectangular case, measuring 5ft – the normal keyboard width by 9ft 7in, with a keyboard at each end, a combined soundboard and one large lid to reflect the sound of both pianos to the audience. 

There is an obvious logic behind the design as two piano frames create a simple rectangle and therefore take up much less space than two pianos.  An interesting side benefit is that the strings of one piano create resonances from the strings of the other piano.

Piano Auctions Ltd were delighted to be offering in our Auction Sale of the 12th December the renowned Orpheus and Bacchus Pleyel Duo-Clave, possibly one of the last made.  It was not completed at the factory – the frame and carcass were stored and then rescued by Maison Erard in the early c2000’s.  This Pleyel-Duo Clave then emerged as a superb restored example.  It has been played on by famous artists including:  Louis Lortie, Helen Mercier, Christopher Hinterhuber, Boris Giltburg and many others.

Lot 70  Pleyel the Orpheus and Bacchus Duo-Clave No 77990 (c1939)
A 9ft 7in rare double keyboard concert piano in an ebonised case.  This piano has been restored. 

Hammer Price:  £42,000


Piano keyboard


We frequently need to ask this question to comply with the law on selling pianos with ivory keyboards. It’s not always as easy to tell as you might imagine!

So if you are not sure how to tell if your keyboard has ivory keys we would recommend this very helpful video on YouTube. Simply Google ‘How To Tell If You Have Ivory Piano Keys?’ and you should be directed to a clear video presented by Robert of Living Pianos. (If you have any difficulty with this, cut and paste the following into your browser:- )

Current legislation states that if the piano is manufactured after 1946 an Article 10 Certificate is required by law to sell an instrument with an ivory keyboard. Here at Piano Auctions Ltd we are happy to apply for Article 10 Certificates on behalf of our vendors.

If you have any questions regarding ivory keyboards please do not hesitate to contact us.

For more information on selling ivory keyboards please visit the Animal Health & Veterinary Agency (AHVLA), UK CITES Management Authority at

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