John Center

Photographer & Bagpipe Maker

Portrait of John Center, photographer and bagpipe maker, taken in the studio of James Howie, 3 Princes Street, in 1888.


Bagpipes for Sale

The photographs below are of bagpipes made by John Center & Son, following John's emigration from Edinburgh where he was  'Photographer and Bagpipe Maker' to Melbourne, Australia in 1908.  They are reproduced with acknowledgement to Craig Kimberley McLernon of Perth, Western Australia who is currently [October 2004] selling the bagpipes and describes them as:

"In all my years of piping I have never seen a set of John Center bagpipes (they are very rare).  I was so impressed with the workmanship on this vintage set that I sent them over to one of our top piping authorities (a champion piper and pipe maker based in NSW who has received an Order of Australia Medal for his work in bagpiping).

He was also very impressed with the tonal quality and craftsmanship of the pipes.  He completed a full assessment on the pipes and I have his written report.

I checked with some overseas contacts and discovered that John Center was a highly respected bagpipe maker and a very passionate piper (there was at least one piping tune written about him).  I also have some history on John Center from Jeannie Campbell's book on (vintage) bagpipe makers.

His bagpipes are very rare as he did not mass produce his pipes but took his time in handcrafting each set he made.

The story goes that this set was made soon after he emigrated to Melbourne from Edinburgh in 1908.  However from the chanter which is engraved 'J Center Melbourne' it can only be surmised that these pipes were made sometime between 1908 and 1914 (when he passed away).

From my experience with handling vintage bagpipes, I am confident that these are an all original set (a credit to the owner/s in maintaining the pipe), the workmanship is definitely from a master craftsman and the tonal quality is one of the best I have heard.

Below is a copy of the advert that I have recently placed on the major international bagpipe classified sites."




John Center & Son,  Cocus wood and ivory bagpipe (c 1908-1914).

This is a unique opportunity to own a very rare vintage bagpipe that is in mint condition for its age.

This magnificent pipe (which comes with the original ivory soled chanter) is a fine example of the quality workmanship produced by this highly respected bagpipe maker.

The internal bores are smooth and clean. The external finish is in original condition (excellent French polish finish). The ivory is also in pristine condition considering its vintage.

The drones have a beautiful ring to them and depending on the reeds used can produce a rich mellow tone or a strong vibrant tone. They chord beautifully with a true chanter and have excellent overtones suitable for piobaireachd performance.

The complete set includes a new Ross zippered bag, Ross reeds, new velvet bag cover and silk cords. They also include a written evaluation from one of our top piping authorities.

They are a prize winning pipe and are priced to sell at US$2,995 obo (we pay postage and insurance to most places).

Further information and detailed photos are available. Serious enquires only please.

Craig Kimberley McLernon, Perth, Western Australia


Bagpipes Sold

Thank you to Craig Kimberley (Kim) McLernon for emailing me on 1 November 2004 to tell me that the bagpipes above had been sold to a buyer in Western Australia.  Kim wrote:

"The bagpipes have been sold. They went to one of our State's leading pipers.

The sound these pipes produce is so incredible they give me goose bumps!  I am glad they have gone to such a high calibre player.

In some ways it is a shame they didn't go to a Center descendant as they are a very rare bagpipe."

John Center & Son

Photos of the Bagpipes

John Centre Bagpipes  -  Deteil

Reproduced with acknowledgement to Craig Kimberley McLernon, Perth, Western Australia

John Center Bagpipes  -  Parts

Reproduced with acknowledgement to Craig Kimberley McLernon, Perth, Western Australia

Bagpipes manufactured by John Center & Son

Reproduced with acknowledgement to Craig Kimberley McLernon, Perth, Western Australia


John Center and the Senter Family

Most of the family were named Senter. John used the name Center.

George was Center (marriage records), but Centre (christening records).


John Center                    Jane                     Willie and Amy

Family Tree                   Leaving Scotland                   Today


John (Aberdeen)         John (Edinburgh)          Family (Edinburgh)

Cartes de Visite

John Center                  By John Center:   1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8


Bagpipe Maker                        Bagpipe Photographs



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