This bagpipe surfaced recently in California. I had only heard of one other bagpipe so branded (back in 2002) and the owner was in Australia. When I saw the picture to the right I immediately wrote back "The mounts make me want to say Robertson, but I'm going on little information here. Can you send more pictures?" Later that evening I got the following email forwarded from Australia...
William Christie and his wife Norma owned and ran a Scottish shop in Sydney. They were primarily kiltmakers but also sold all manner of things Scottish as did William’s father Bill. I met Bill as a child of 11 and knew William and Norma well for many years until their departure from Sydney. Henceforth I will call William "Bill" as this is what I called him and how I think of him. They were lovely people and were great supporters of the Scottish Societies and bands in NSW.
Bill wasn’t a pipemaker. He was purely a retailer. There was a Scottish bagpipe maker living in Sydney just down the road from me. His name was James (Jimmy) Martin, he was foreman of the Robertson bagpipe business in Scotland until he emigrated to Australia. (see James Martin Bagpipe page) Essentially all pipes he made were Robertson sizes and sound.
Christie commissioned Jimmy to make bagpipes branded “Christie Sydney” for sale through his shop. Jimmy used African Blackwood as his primary timber but did manufacture a large number of sets from Australian Mulga which proved very successful. In addition, he used Catalin, Stirling Silver, ivory and a concoction of his own for mounting his pipes at various times and for a variety of price ranges.
Jimmy and I were good friends I often visited his backyard workshop to see what he did but all tools went down when anyone came into the workshop and weren’t taken up again until they left. He also has two daughters who were about my age and quite attractive which made the visits more worthwhile! I asked him to apprentice me but he said the business couldn’t afford to support him and an apprentice. I can see now that this was completely true. Eventually a neighbour complained and Jimmy was forced to move to a small first floor workshop in a neighbouring suburb. This suited me fine as I could spy on his techniques through the crack in the door, so he did eventually pass on his skills even if it was through espionage.
By the way, his pipe chanters were always crap but the drones were GREAT!!
Hope this helps.
Robert Pearce OAM
Bagpipe Services Australia