February 12, 2024

Historic swansong Duncan Campbell R.G. Hardie pipes up for sale

The last set of R.G. Hardie pipes that famed turner Duncan Campbell made in 2011 to conclude his 49-year career with the Glasgow bagpipe maker are up for sale by the original Alberta, Canada-based owner.

The pipes were purchased by Michael McLetchie, who, until recently, has played the full-silver-mounted pipes nearly every day.

McLetchie said that, at age 80, it’s time to find the historically important instrument a new home. “It’s truly a beautiful instrument, but they aren’t getting the time they deserve,” he said. I’d like to see this special instrument go to a piper who will appreciate it, play it, and give it a good home.”

Duncan Campbell was the head bagpipe turner with R.G. Hardie & Co., where he made exceptional instruments for nearly 50 years. He made his final set of pipes in 2011, and the instrument was auctioned and ultimately purchased by McLetchie.

[Read our 2011 feature story on Duncan Campbell]

He asked the well-known piper, pipe-major and piping judge Sean Somers to help him with the sale.

“As can you see from the pictures, it’s a beautiful instrument made from some of the deepest, dark colour of African blackwood I’ve seen,” Somers said. “They include the perfection and attention to detail you’d expect from a high-end instrument. They are fully mounted in hallmarked sterling silver, and hand engraved with a ‘thistle’ design.”

The pipes include two blowpipes, a silver mouthpiece, an original blackwood chanter with a sterling silver sole, and an engraved commemorative plaque on the bass drone stock. Somers said the set is in excellent condition.

A Scottish emigrant from Inverness, Michael McLetchie moved to Canada in the mid-1960s. He’s been a stalwart and familiar face on the Alberta piping scene, and he and his wife Marion have contributed greatly to piping in the province, teaching countless students and leading the Innisfail Legion Pipe Band for decades.

“I have had these pipes at home over the last several weeks, and have had the pleasure of playing them a few times,” Somers remarked. “They are incredibly stable and easy to tune. They have that ‘lock-in’ character of quality instruments.”

Somers recorded a video of him playing the drones, using his own chanter and stocks with a sheepskin bag, reporting that it was “a seamless transition, with the pipes being very easy to reed.”

A new full-silver set of new pipes from R.G. Hardie today carries a list price of £7,500. Somers said that “all reasonable offers will be considered,” and interested prospective buyers can email him directly. Somers will work with Michael McLetchie about prospective offers.






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