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#1561676 - 11/21/10 10:31 AM Info on Chickering box grand from 1833...Now with Pics
Keyguy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/05/07
Posts: 20
Loc: Tallahassee, FL
A good friend of mine's mother has the Chickering box grand in the photos. He said they have documents that say this piano was built in 1833 for Andrew Jackson's wife and there is only one other like it in existence, and the other one resides in a Museum. His mother has apparently received an offer for the piano and he has asked me to try and find out anything I can about it. I thought here would be a good place to start. Google was not helpful. If additional information is needed, I will try and get it. Thanks for the assistance! Picture are here Pictures Link
Jim Wells
Tallahassee, FL


Edited by Keyguy (11/21/10 12:37 PM)
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#1561699 - 11/21/10 11:31 AM Re: Info on Chickering box grand from 1833... [Re: Keyguy]
Cy Shuster, RPT Offline
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Registered: 12/18/05
Posts: 3448
Loc: Albuquerque, NM
Jim,

Your link asked for a Windows Live login. I logged in, but it told me that the album wasn't shared publicly.

For 1833, the serial number should be about 1,000.

--Cy--
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#1561707 - 11/21/10 11:52 AM Re: Info on Chickering box grand from 1833... [Re: Cy Shuster, RPT]
Keyguy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/05/07
Posts: 20
Loc: Tallahassee, FL
PM sent.
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#1561762 - 11/21/10 01:44 PM Re: Info on Chickering box grand from 1833... [Re: Keyguy]
Cy Shuster, RPT Offline
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Registered: 12/18/05
Posts: 3448
Loc: Albuquerque, NM
Thanks... I can see the pictures now.

It appears to have had some work done on it; the damper felt looks new. The condition doesn't look bad. It seems completely typical of squares of that time.

Any historic value would have to be assessed by someone in that field. Generally squares today go for less than $1,000.

--Cy--
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#1561818 - 11/21/10 03:53 PM Re: Info on Chickering box grand from 1833... [Re: Keyguy]
Steve Jackson Offline
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Registered: 03/02/07
Posts: 634
Loc: Toronto

I suspect it may be from 1870 or so, as it has 88 notes.

Arwcw
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#1561825 - 11/21/10 04:04 PM Re: Info on Chickering box grand from 1833... [Re: Keyguy]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

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Well, no, it has 85 notes, 7 octaves c-c. That would be pretty early.
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#1561931 - 11/21/10 07:36 PM Re: Info on Chickering box grand from 1833... [Re: Keyguy]
Brandon_W_T Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/10
Posts: 1940
Loc: Omaha, Nebraska
To me the styling and the fact it has 85 notes makes me think it is also 1870s/80s. The plates on earlier squares were not like this on the ones I have seen. The style it has seems to be far more common in the 1880s.


According to Shaffer pianos, 85 note squares became almost standard in the 1880s.

Although it does have 2 strings per treble note, which can indicate it may be older.
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#1562219 - 11/22/10 09:08 AM Re: Info on Chickering box grand from 1833... [Re: Brandon_W_T]
Keyguy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/05/07
Posts: 20
Loc: Tallahassee, FL
Where is the serial# located on this piano? I'll try and find it and report back. Thanks!

Jim Wells
Tallahassee, FL
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#1562224 - 11/22/10 09:14 AM Re: Info on Chickering box grand from 1833... [Re: Keyguy]
Brandon_W_T Offline
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Registered: 01/18/10
Posts: 1940
Loc: Omaha, Nebraska
They tend to stamp serial numbers in several places on these. On the 1855 erard, just for similar age sake, they stamped the serial number on the pin block, on the innar rim of the piano, near one of the legs, and on one of the supports under the instrument (the large square poles you see under the soundboard, always forget the term)


Check there, those are pretty standard placements on grands. Ive never had experience with a square grand though.
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--NEW!--- 1964ish Conn 640 vacuum tube theatre organ! (with leslie!) smile

Grandmas- New Hyundai petite baby grand

Church (the organ I practice on)-
1998 Bedient (Built about 45 minutes from me!) 2m/pedal 24 rank Cavaille-Coll style pipe organ

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#1562251 - 11/22/10 10:10 AM Re: Info on Chickering box grand from 1833... [Re: Keyguy]
Dale Fox Offline
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Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 1054
Loc: Nor California Sacramento area
It's not that old. Too many notes. One piece casting. (Though Alpheus Babcock did cast the first unified/one piece casting for an earlier square in 1825) Wrong design. It's not unusual for pianos to get older and more rare/valuable with each retelling of the story.


Edited by Dale Fox (11/22/10 10:20 AM)
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#1562257 - 11/22/10 10:20 AM Re: Info on Chickering box grand from 1833... [Re: Dale Fox]
Keyguy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/05/07
Posts: 20
Loc: Tallahassee, FL
Originally Posted By: Dale Fox
It's not that old. Too many notes. One piece casting. Wrong design. It's not unusual for pianos to get older and more rare/valuable with each retelling of the story.


I suppose I need to get a copy of the documentation and post it. This has not been in the family since it was built. How old do you think it is? Is there a specific picture I could take that would help? Thanks again for all the help. BTW, supposedly, this piano has been consistently maintained and tuned.
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#1562262 - 11/22/10 10:28 AM Re: Info on Chickering box grand from 1833... [Re: Keyguy]
Dale Fox Offline
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Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 1054
Loc: Nor California Sacramento area
Jackson owned a "T. Gilbert piano. Just a fun fact.
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#1562270 - 11/22/10 10:39 AM Re: Info on Chickering box grand from 1833...Now with Pics [Re: Keyguy]
Brandon_W_T Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/10
Posts: 1940
Loc: Omaha, Nebraska
for reference here is what an 1838 square grand would typically look like.

Note the pedals.

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--NEW!--- 1964ish Conn 640 vacuum tube theatre organ! (with leslie!) smile

Grandmas- New Hyundai petite baby grand

Church (the organ I practice on)-
1998 Bedient (Built about 45 minutes from me!) 2m/pedal 24 rank Cavaille-Coll style pipe organ

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#1562271 - 11/22/10 10:40 AM Re: Info on Chickering box grand from 1833... [Re: Dale Fox]
Keyguy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/05/07
Posts: 20
Loc: Tallahassee, FL
Originally Posted By: Dale Fox
Jackson owned a "T. Gilbert piano. Just a fun fact.


I had read that. This one was supposedly owned by his wife, Rachel.
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Tallahassee, FL

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#1562279 - 11/22/10 10:59 AM Re: Info on Chickering box grand from 1833... [Re: Keyguy]
Dave Horne Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5261
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
I assume since they are not made anymore, that particular style I mean, what are the drawbacks to such a design ... or the advantages? Is it more difficult to tune, to work on the action?
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#1562280 - 11/22/10 11:01 AM Re: Info on Chickering box grand from 1833... [Re: Dave Horne]
Keyguy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/05/07
Posts: 20
Loc: Tallahassee, FL
Hi Dave! Happy Thanksgiving...
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Jim Wells
Tallahassee, FL

www.pureplatinumband.com

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#1562290 - 11/22/10 11:19 AM Re: Info on Chickering box grand from 1833... [Re: Keyguy]
Dave Horne Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5261
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
Hey Jim, we don't don't celebrate Thanksgiving over here, but my brother in law's birthday is the 4th of July. smile

How's it going?
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#1562298 - 11/22/10 11:47 AM Re: Info on Chickering box grand from 1833... [Re: Keyguy]
lilylady Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 4974
Loc: boston north
That is one beautiful piano!

A white elephant in most cases but if I had the room, I would own one with a beautiful cabinet like this along with a beautiful pump organ with the high ornate tops and many stops as well!

Love the workmanship as well as the beautiful wood cabinetry.
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#1562315 - 11/22/10 12:17 PM Re: Info on Chickering box grand from 1833... [Re: Keyguy]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5065
Loc: Olympia, Washington
While Jonas Chickering had been using metal—including iron—string plates in the early 1920s, I don’t think he used one-piece frame castings until relatively later. And this piano appears to have a single-piece cast gray iron frame (though it is hard to tell for sure from the one photograph showing the frame).

Chickering partnered with John Mackay in 1830 and Mackay had earlier been working with Alpheus Babcock so by 1833 Chickering would certainly have been familiar with Babcock’s iron plate technologies. Besides, both Babcock and Chickering had worked simultaneously in Boston for a time and they must have known of each other’s work. But I don’t think it was until 1837 after Babcock actually came to work for Chickering that the company started to work with one-piece castings. Soon after Babcock came to work with him Chickering tried to patent a full cast iron frame for squares. Although the 1837 application was initially denied on a technicality it was finally granted in 1840 and it was then that Chickering started building squares with full cast (gray) iron frames.

As Chickering continued to build flat strung squares into the 1840s I would guess—and it is only a guess—that this piano was probably built in the early 1840s. It would take further examination and some actual research work to tell for sure.

ddf
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#1562494 - 11/22/10 05:32 PM Re: Info on Chickering box grand from 1833... [Re: Keyguy]
Brandon_W_T Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/10
Posts: 1940
Loc: Omaha, Nebraska
Squares were deemed as technical-wise a mess.

From a pianist standpoint, they were odd to play usually (most squares have the lower and higher keys rounded off to create a vertically curved keydesk look.

Also the actions were sloppy. If you were a beginner sure it would be a nice piece. But as an intermediate, you soon realized they lacked the expression and overall, good touch.



Personally, I would absolutely love to have a square grand, especially a chickering, but not before I have a suitable upright or grand for real playing.


They are also obsolete nowadays. No parts are really available for them like a standard grand or upright. Things like soundboards, pins, action parts, etc.
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Home -
1905 Story and Clark Art Case smile

--NEW!--- 1964ish Conn 640 vacuum tube theatre organ! (with leslie!) smile

Grandmas- New Hyundai petite baby grand

Church (the organ I practice on)-
1998 Bedient (Built about 45 minutes from me!) 2m/pedal 24 rank Cavaille-Coll style pipe organ

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#1562671 - 11/23/10 12:39 AM Re: Info on Chickering box grand from 1833... [Re: Brandon_W_T]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5065
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: Brandon_W_T
Squares were deemed as technical-wise a mess.

From a pianist standpoint, they were odd to play usually (most squares have the lower and higher keys rounded off to create a vertically curved keydesk look.

Not at the time, they weren’t. Inventers such as Babcock and Chickering were brilliant, competent men; they weren’t wasting their time on something they considered to be junk.


Quote:
Also the actions were sloppy. If you were a beginner sure it would be a nice piece. But as an intermediate, you soon realized they lacked the expression and overall, good touch.

Depends on what you’re comparing them with. You’re comparing instruments that are now over a century and a half old with instruments several generations down the line. Most technicians today haven’t a clue about how to go about regulating one of these things. That’s not the piano’s fault. Bring in a specialist and they can be made to perform quite nicely. To simply say their “actions were sloppy” is a bit like comparing the drivability of a ’32 Ford roadster with that of a contemporary Mustang. Unfair comparison. Go back and compare the ’32 Ford roadster with a Model T. It was a step forward in the evolutionary chain but, of course, it wasn’t the end.

Quote:
Personally, I would absolutely love to have a square grand, especially a chickering, but not before I have a suitable upright or grand for real playing.

They are also obsolete nowadays. No parts are really available for them like a standard grand or upright. Things like soundboards, pins, action parts, etc.

In their day technicians would have been accustomed to their idiosyncrasies. I daresay they kept these things playing pretty well. We struggle with them today because most of us only see one occasionally. There are a few technicians who still specialize in these things. Their opinions of them are not the same as, for example, mine. Or yours.

Hammers are available from Ronsen. Pins haven’t changed all that much. Action parts, when needed, can be fabricated. Soundboards and bridges are fabricated to fit anyway—there are no “standard” replacements.

ddf
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#1567879 - 12/01/10 01:29 PM Re: Info on Chickering box grand from 1833... [Re: Del]
Keyguy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/05/07
Posts: 20
Loc: Tallahassee, FL
It is instrument#1427. It was shipped on May 28, 1833 TO William P. Winchester of 20 Franklin Place in Boston. Its twin belonged to Sam Houston's wife and is in the museum by the same name in
Huntsville, TX. Does this help?
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#1567998 - 12/01/10 03:54 PM Re: Info on Chickering box grand from 1833... [Re: Keyguy]
Keyguy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/05/07
Posts: 20
Loc: Tallahassee, FL
Looks like it to my untrained eye...
Sam Houston Museum
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#1568913 - 12/02/10 08:37 PM Re: Info on Chickering box grand from 1833... [Re: Keyguy]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5065
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: Keyguy
It is instrument#1427. It was shipped on May 28, 1833 TO William P. Winchester of 20 Franklin Place in Boston. Its twin belonged to Sam Houston's wife and is in the museum by the same name in Huntsville, TX. Does this help?

With respect, I still think some additional research might be in order. I've checked with a couple of other people to verify what I wrote earlier. These folks spend a lot more time that I working on and with pre-1850 instruments and the consensus is that, based on the style of the legs, the size of the instrument and the plate casting it looks a whole lot more like the pianos Chickering was building in the early 1840s.

It is conceivable that Jonas might have built a one-off (or in this case, a two-off) instrument like this in 1832/33 but it’s not likely. He would have had to start work on the thing in 1831 or 1832 and that plate casting would have been highly advanced foundry work. It doesn’t seem conceivable to me that he would then have simply sat on the technology for another seven or eight years before starting series production.

ddf
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#1569595 - 12/03/10 09:09 PM Re: Info on Chickering box grand from 1833... [Re: Keyguy]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5065
Loc: Olympia, Washington
One last comment:
I just heard from my friend Ted Good, author of "Giraffes, Black Dragons and Other Pianos—A technological history of the piano,” who generally agrees with my comments above. However he also gave me the name of someone you might contact at the Smithsonian who might be able to give you more definitive information. With Chickering anything is possible! If you’re interested please contact me privately at my e-mail address below.

ddf
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