Gordon Duncan’s smallpipes for sale / Ian’s ivory chanter donated to Museum of Piping


A set of smallpipes that belonged to the late virtuoso piper, Gordon Duncan is being offered for sale. The proceeds raised will go to the Gordon Duncan Memorial Trust, the registered charity that funds and supports young traditional musicians.

The pipes, pictured, are in the key of D and were made by Jimmy Anderson in the 1980s. They are in good working order and have been re-fitted with cane drone reeds, a Heriot and Allan chanter reed, and a new bag and valve made by renowned bag maker, Lawrence Thomson.

The instrument comes with a bag cover and a set of bellows is included in the sale. The bellows need refurbished. An asking price of £850 (+ postage) is sought.


The instrument has been refurbished by Iain MacInnes, the well-known piper who produced BBC Radio Scotland’s Pipeline programme for many years.

Iain, pictured, said: “I’ve re-reeded the pipes on behalf of the Trust. The chanter reed was made in April 1990 by Anne Sessoms of Heriot & Allan (according to the date on the back of it), and suits the chanter nicely. It’s one that I bought at the time, but never got round to using – a collectors’ item in its own right!

“If anyone would like to learn more about the pipes or are interested in buying them, please get in touch via the Bagpipe.News site in the first instance. I can supply a recording – made this month – that will demonstrate how the instrument looks and sounds.”

• Meanwhile, Ian Duncan, has donated a rare ivory pipe chanter to the Museum of Piping at the National Piping Centre. The chanter belonged to Archie Osborne, a pipe maker and reed maker from Crieff in Perthshire who gave it to Ian in the mid-1970s, a time when Ian taught mathematics at the local high school.

Finlay MacDonald accepts the ivory pipe chanter from Ian.

Ian said: “I got to know Archie very well during those years. He taught piping at the school after hours and, in fact, had quite a lot of good pupils, including Andy Renwick and James Bayne. Archie was the Pipe Major of the Strathearn band until 1976.

“Archie’s workshop was nearby. I spent a lot of time with him and learned a lot about reed-making and reed manipulation from him. This served me well when I took over at the Vale of Atholl. I’m not sure where Archie got the chanter although I suppose he could’ve made it himself.

“It’s elephant ivory and I actually competed with it a few times. Older readers will recall the Eagle Pipers’ competitions held in the Grand Royal Arch just off the Canongate in Edinburgh in those days. I came second to Pipe Major Angus MacDonald MBE at one of those contests and I was playing the ivory chanter. It has a lovely sound and, in fact, its pitch is pretty much what we hear in piping today; it’s quite a ‘modern’ pitch.”

• Listen to Ian play the chanter:

Finlay MacDonald, said: “On behalf of the National Piping Centre I’m delighted to accept this generous donation from Ian. It is a fascinating piece and will sit well with the other historical artefacts we have in the museum.”

• The chanter is not the one that was owned by Peter MacLeod Jnr. and which appeared on the cover of the June 2014 edition of the Piping Times:

Left: Peter MacLeod’s ivory chanter and, right, detail of the one Archie Osborne gave to Ian Duncan.

A close look shows MacLeod’s chanter has an ivory ring at the top whereas Ian’s does not.

Peter MacLeod worked in Rhodesia for many years and this is presumably where he obtained his ivory chanter.

The international trade in ivory was banned in 1990.