Dating your antique piano

How Old is Your Piano? - Pam's Bee Sharp Piano Tuning

dating your antique piano

Restoration can increase the performance value of an instrument, but Antique furniture is similarly categorized, but with the date hovering. Learn how to spot some common signs of damage to your piano, to your piano: the serial number, the manufacturer, and the date of manufacture. look at the soundboard, or check behind an upright/underneath a grand. Dating an instrument by serial number and brand name brand name and serial number of your instrument, email us at [email protected] and we.

The square piano, a more cost-effective and space-saving rectangular shape introduced to appeal to the rising middle class, first appeared in the mid- to late s as rather small instruments, and became wildly popular—and much larger—in the early to mids. By the s, most piano makers were using steel strings and some kind of iron in their structures, and had increased the keyboard compass to 85 notes. This resulted in much heavier pianos—some square pianos now called square grands were as long as seven feet and weighed over pounds—that required much more substantial cases and legs.

Restored Antique Peerless Player Piano

Massive pianos with very heavy legs are most likely from the late 19th century. The furniture expert may have little knowledge of the structural and mechanical aspects of pianos, and so may be unable to identify a historically important instrument.

Experiments with upright pianos began as early as the mids, mostly by turning grands on end. Very few examples of these instruments survive. The modern upright developed gradually throughout the s, and by the s had reached its final form and overtaken sales of square pianos.

dating your antique piano

BySteinway had made its last square piano; the upright reigned as its replacement. Uprights were preferred to square pianos because they were easier to manufacture, structurally more stable, took up less floor space, and produced a greater volume of sound.

Because of their more recent development, however, most uprights do not technically qualify as antique instruments or have historical value, though a few of the better-made and more ornate examples in good condition from the late s and early s may have some value due to their elaborate cases. The worth of these and other pianos valued for their cabinetwork will depend on a combination of brand name, rarity, condition, and which furniture styles are currently being sought by collectors.

A remaining challenge, however, was to provide the player with heavier hammers and a more reliable action that could meet the requirements of the new demanding repertoire and larger halls.

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The actions of early pianos were developed in many ways by various makers. The Viennese action was light and fast but lacked power, whereas the rival English action was heavier and more powerful but lacked speed.

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Pianos with actions that are not completely modern merit further research into possible historical value. A resource widely used by professionals in the field of early pianos is Clinkscale Online, at www. This is usually held in place by one or two simple clips at the top edge, unless someone has screwed it in.

Grand frames are easier to see, but they rarely have straightforward date-marks. Registered Design Numbers such as often appear in uprights, but do not help us with dates. Our files include original stock records for some retailers, and the following scenario is a realistic illustration of the kinds of problem that often occur when attempting to place a single date on a piano.

Antique Piano Bench

What is the date of this piano? Because of these delays, it was not good business practise to mark the original date in any obvious place on the outside of a piano, so if you see a year on it, it is usually either the year the firm was established, real or fictional!

dating your antique piano

Imprints will usually be from a factory or retailer, whereas hand-written information may not be reliable. DATE-MARKS ON KEYS By the mids, it was a common practise to date a piano on the side of the key of the bottom note with a pencil, as Ansell seems to have done in this example, but years with only two digits are always a little worrying, especially if they were done with a ball pen.

Oddly, I have rarely seen examples where any 2 or all 3 of these apply to the same piano, but I recently came across one which has a date on the iron frame, and on the keys, and pencilled inside the case. Most often, the date is written on the side of the bottom key as shown above. All of the cottage pianos shown here are dated on the side of the bottom key.

dating your antique piano

Grands are more difficult, with more risk of damage, so it is wiser to ask your tuner to help. Occasionally, this is done on the second or third key, so it is worth checking a few if you feel confident about removing keys safely.

Otherwise, ask your tuner to look. If you lift the top of an upright piano, you should see something like this, and the wrestpins tuning pins here are tapered to a square on their outer ends, like modern ones, but many antique pianos have the ends flattened to a crude oblong shape.

Some ill-equipped tuners use this as an excuse to say the piano is no good, without even attempting to tune it. This is a failure of the tuner, not the instrument. Although it is fair to say that many pianos become untuneable after 50 or 60 years, oblong pins do not necessarily mean that a piano is untuneable, our Challenger certainly challenges this idea, with oblong pins that are STILL tighter than some new pianos after years.

Antique Piano Values | LoveToKnow

In the picture above, there is no sign of an iron frame, so this suggests that it may be a purely wooden structure, although sometimes, the iron frame does not extend right to the top, it may be what is known as a THREE-QUARTER frame. There may be a brass covering, or the wood may be painted gold, but when in doubt, a magnet will tell you which bits are made of iron, although ironwork is more obvious below keyboard level, and usually painted black or gold.

dating your antique piano

In the early years, tuning was not necessarily done by professionals, and it was helpful to amateurs to mark the names of the notes against the wrestpins. Professional tuners have no need for this, they can see which notes they are tuning, and simply follow the relationships between notes, rather than their individual identities.

All notes are treated equally, so the practice of marking the notes died out in the late s, because as pianos improved, and tensions increased, piano tuning became almost impossible for amateurs.

If you have ever had trouble tuning a 6-string guitar, a string is much more of a problem, so imagine what it would be like to manage 35 times as many strings, 12 times the tension on each string, and a much less user-friendly tuning system.

dating your antique piano

Tuning a piano in an hour is a lot harder than you might think! Have a look at the steel wire used for the strings. Within a very few years of being made, the wire will often change from a silvery grey colour to almost black, this is normal. However, if the strings, or the tuning pins to which they are attached, are going rusty, this needs to be treated. My advice, though considered controversial among British tuners, is to spray the wrestpins and top bridge with WD I have been doing it since the seventies, it does nothing but good.

I have done extensive tests. It is free of blemishes, nicks, or scratches and shows little sign of use. It is in excellent mechanical condition. Excellent - This means that the piano needs no reconditioning.

It looks good, has a clean string compartment, and has no visible wear or defects. There should be no dents or rust.

Antique Piano Values

There may be tiny scratches or nicks in the wood. Very Good - The piano has no major problems. The finish may have a few minor blemishes but there will not be mechanical problems. The piano will be very clean.