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#1576023 - 12/13/10 04:23 PM Not Alot of Information on Layton Bros. Pianos
CDR Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/12/10
Posts: 22
Loc: Buffalo, NY
Hello everyone. I am new here. Thank-you for reading. I rescued an old piano from being put to the curb by my neighbor. After a little TLC, some dusting and polishing, and having it tuned it sounds great. My little daughter loves it.

I like to know the history of old items, and this piano is proving difficult. Here is what I know:

It's a "Layton Bros" upright piano.
Serial number 17791.
The action was made by the Otto Higel Co.
On the back of the action was stamped the date of Feb 7, 1929.

From what I gather, Layton Bros manufactured pianos in Montreal and Toronto from the late 1800's to around 1950's, when they became Layton Audio. I contacted Layton Audio to find out more on the piano, and they do not have records of their pianos anymore as the Layton family sold their interest about 5 years ago.

The Otto Higel co. made piano actions and player pianos in Toronto, but in their prime opened up a secondary plant right here in Buffalo, NY.

Long story short, there is hardly any information on Layton Bros. Searching the internet over, I somehow got onto a thread here that was from way back in 2002, and hence, here I am. A couple of pianos for sale in Canada on craigslists, and a brief decription from a Canadian version of wikipedia and thats it. I believe that the Layton name that is currently in Canadian Parliment is a grandson of the original Layton Bros.

Does anyone here own or know or known someone who owned a Layton Bros piano ? The little bit of history I uncovered is fascinating to me and I would love to know more about this wonderful piece that almost went to the dump. Thank-you.
_________________________
1929 Layton Bros. Studio Upright

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#1576110 - 12/13/10 07:06 PM Re: Not Alot of Information on Layton Bros. Pianos [Re: CDR]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Welcome to these forums!

First of all, thank you for doing your own research as far as you could go before asking here. This helps to avoid the same old questions being answered over and over...

Generally speaking, the longer a piano company was in business, the more pianos they built, and especially, the higher the quality of these instruments, the more is known today about the brand.

Conversely, the opposite holds true as well. There is a book on the Canadian piano industry, and the information in that book is much less than what you were able to find.

So that makes you an expert on Layton pianos!

Higel was a maker of high quality actions and keyboards. You have already dated the piano by the stamp on the action, I don't know if anyone can add more information to that.

Old pianos can have a lot of history and stories, but they are mostly locked up and unavailable to us today.
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#1576173 - 12/13/10 08:56 PM Re: Not Alot of Information on Layton Bros. Pianos [Re: CDR]
Dara Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/18/09
Posts: 1034
Loc: west coast island, canada
Here is a link to an article/copy of an original brochure about Layton Pianos.

It includes pictures of individual models they manufactured, the Montreal and Toronto factories, their main showroom, and the Layton brothers- check out the picture of Philip and his 'cool shades'.

Some very interesting information in this link.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/32031975/1900-Layton-Brothers-Pianos-Organs-Players-Wholesale-and-Retail

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#1576204 - 12/13/10 09:53 PM Re: Not Alot of Information on Layton Bros. Pianos [Re: Supply]
CDR Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/12/10
Posts: 22
Loc: Buffalo, NY
Originally Posted By: Supply
Welcome to these forums!
So that makes you an expert on Layton pianos!

Higel was a maker of high quality actions and keyboards. You have already dated the piano by the stamp on the action, I don't know if anyone can add more information to that.

Old pianos can have a lot of history and stories, but they are mostly locked up and unavailable to us today.


How funny, I'm the expert, thanks for words of encouragement !

It seems to me that the Otto Higel Co. is more well known than Layton Bros, as I have found alot of references to player pianos and player piano rolls from them.

I found this little article since I first posted about Otto Higel Co.
http://www.arcade-museum.com/mtr/MTR-1915-60-10/MTR-1915-60-10-59.pdf

A question I have is, is it common to have a manufacturer like Layton Bros. make the piano and then a different manufacturer make the piano action ?

This history is really neat. Frustrating, but neat. Finding the date of Feb 7, 1929 stamped on the action was the coolest thing. I love to think that the action in the piano might have been manufactured right here in Buffalo where I live.

Spending so much time cleaning this piano and researching it, I've already become attached to it even though it has some minor blemishes.

I've got a blank wall in my living room over the piano, and I would love to get this picture blown up and framed to go over it....

http://www.wnyheritagepress.org/photosofweek/main_south_chippewa/main_south_chippewa.htm

....notice the date in the bottom left, Feb 10th, just 3 days later. What a great story/visual the photo and piano would tell! (the first link above says plant was at 1036 main st, which would have been just north on the same street)
_________________________
1929 Layton Bros. Studio Upright

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#1576209 - 12/13/10 10:06 PM Re: Not Alot of Information on Layton Bros. Pianos [Re: Dara]
CDR Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/12/10
Posts: 22
Loc: Buffalo, NY
Originally Posted By: Dara
Here is a link to an article/copy of an original brochure about Layton Pianos.

It includes pictures of individual models they manufactured, the Montreal and Toronto factories, their main showroom, and the Layton brothers- check out the picture of Philip and his 'cool shades'.

Some very interesting information in this link.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/32031975/1900-Layton-Brothers-Pianos-Organs-Players-Wholesale-and-Retail


I forgot to mention in the original post that I did see this too, but it was from a different website. I think I read that Phillip was blind, I read that somewhere, but I've been trying to research this for a week now so I don't remember where I saw it or have a link to it.

I also saw a website that had an Otto Higel booklet scanned from the mid 1910's, but I could not open it.

I'm assuming that since the serial number is 17791, that there is at the very least 18,000 Layton Bros pianos made, I would just think ther would be more info or you would see more for sale, right?
_________________________
1929 Layton Bros. Studio Upright

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#1576228 - 12/13/10 10:55 PM Re: Not Alot of Information on Layton Bros. Pianos [Re: CDR]
Dara Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/18/09
Posts: 1034
Loc: west coast island, canada
Yes, I did some more research and found out that Philip indeed was blind. So my apologies to the deceased Philip on my comment about his shades. He even initiated and started up the Montreal Association for the Blind.

And yes Philip was the great grandfather of the current leader, Jack Layton, of the federal NDP party here in Canada.


Originally Posted By: CDR

A question I have is, is it common to have a manufacturer like Layton Bros. make the piano and then a different manufacturer make the piano action ?


Most piano manufacturers outsource the action, hammers, strings, often the soundboard and some other components of a piano.

Does your piano look like any of the 3 different ones shown in their old catalogue from the link I posted ?

We love photos here, so when you have a chance, you'll have to post one or more.

Best wishes with your new/old piano.

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#1576300 - 12/14/10 12:47 AM Re: Not Alot of Information on Layton Bros. Pianos [Re: CDR]
Cy Shuster, RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/18/05
Posts: 3448
Loc: Albuquerque, NM
You might also contact the piano program at UWO in Toronto:
http://www.pianotech.uwo.ca/

--Cy--
_________________________
Cy Shuster, RPT
505-265-4234
www.shusterpiano.com
www.facebook.com/shusterpiano
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Registered Piano Technician
Dampp-Chaser Certified Installer
PianoDisc Certified Service Technician

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#1576462 - 12/14/10 09:50 AM Re: Not Alot of Information on Layton Bros. Pianos [Re: Dara]
CDR Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/12/10
Posts: 22
Loc: Buffalo, NY
Originally Posted By: Dara

Does your piano look like any of the 3 different ones shown in their old catalogue from the link I posted ?

We love photos here, so when you have a chance, you'll have to post one or more.

Best wishes with your new/old piano.


I wish ! Those pianos in that old catalogue are beautiful. The cabinet and size of mine is similar in general to those shown, but much, much less ornate, the front legs are squared, as opposed to the fancy column-like ones in the catalogue, and the front panels both above and below the keys are just flat and do not have the raised in-lays as shown. Just based on the simple cabinet and the abuse it looked like it had, I have a feeling it might have been in either a bar or school at some point in it's life.

I would love to show a picture, but 1.) I'm still cleaning it up a bit, I'd like to put another coat of tung oil on the outside and 1A.) all of the pictures of the pianos in the holiday thread are georgeous, this piano was 12 hours from being picked up from the garbage men. Without knowing anyone here, some of you might scoff at the pictures and be like "thats a pile of junk" and I really don't want anyone to rain on my parade.

Some of you look like you have pianos that are worth thousands of dollars...this piano sitting in my living room might not be worth anything but the happiness it is giving my daughter playing it.

heck, you Canadians will get a kick out of this, I've got a hockey puck under each of the front legs as support because it is missing the casters. (which probably was going to be another question down the road, what type of casters would I need, how do I measure what size, etc)
_________________________
1929 Layton Bros. Studio Upright

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#1576862 - 12/14/10 11:11 PM Re: Not Alot of Information on Layton Bros. Pianos [Re: CDR]
Dara Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/18/09
Posts: 1034
Loc: west coast island, canada
Originally Posted By: CDR

Some of you look like you have pianos that are worth thousands of dollars...this piano sitting in my living room might not be worth anything but the happiness it is giving my daughter playing it.

...what type of casters would I need, how do I measure what size, etc


You can always ask technical questions over on the Tuner/Technicians Forum.

Your piano has already brought joy to you and your daughter, started you both on a whole new adventure.... and introduced you to PW.
That would seem to have lots of worth.

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#1577053 - 12/15/10 08:56 AM Re: Not Alot of Information on Layton Bros. Pianos [Re: Dara]
CDR Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/12/10
Posts: 22
Loc: Buffalo, NY
I'm taking a crash course in piano knowledge this week.

I measured it from floor to top and it's 46" high. From reading that book on pianobuyer.com that someone mentioned in another thread, it sounds like I have a studio upright based on this description from the book:

Studio pianos, from about 44" to 47", are more serious instruments. They are called studios because they are commonly found in the practice rooms of music schools. Manufacturers make them in both attractive furniture styles for the home and in functional, durable, but aesthetically bland styles for school and other institutional use. If you don't require attractive furniture, you may save money by buying the school style. In fact, many buyers prefer the simple lines of the institutional models.

http://www.pianobuyer.com/fall10/16.html

That pretty much nails what I originally thought. The very basic cabinet leads me to believe it was from a school. From a furniture perspective, I personally like both the fancy cabinets and the simple style this one has. For me, it's not so much how fancy it is as it is more the condition it is in.

This one needed some work to put it mildly, but it is really coming along. A real good cleaning and the coat of tung oil I put on the outside really made the wood come alive.

This thread might be boring to most but pianos are all of a sudden fascinating to me. The history, the complexity of the piano action that the average person probably never knew, the woodwork and designs. If anything, this free piano is a good starter for me and my family so when/if I ever upgrade to a better piano, I'll have a little more knowledge at my disposal.

But truthfully I'm starting to become attached to this ole bugger...some people take in a free dog or cat from the nighborhood for the family...I took in a piano!


Edited by CDR (12/15/10 09:10 AM)
_________________________
1929 Layton Bros. Studio Upright

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#1577063 - 12/15/10 09:22 AM Re: Not Alot of Information on Layton Bros. Pianos [Re: CDR]
Strings & Wood Offline


Gold member until Dec. 2012


Registered: 05/22/08
Posts: 1838
Loc: USA
Quote:
I would love to show a picture, but 1.) I'm still cleaning it up a bit, I'd like to put another coat of tung oil on the outside and 1A.) all of the pictures of the pianos in the holiday thread are georgeous, this piano was 12 hours from being picked up from the garbage men. Without knowing anyone here, some of you might scoff at the pictures and be like "thats a pile of junk" and I really don't want anyone to rain on my parade.


Most here are about touch & tone. If an ugly duckling turns into a swan when played...all is good.
_________________________







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#2043658 - 03/05/13 11:46 PM Re: Not Alot of Information on Layton Bros. Pianos [Re: CDR]
Urabus Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/05/13
Posts: 1
I have a Mason and Risch upright from 1939 and there's a layton bros. insignia under the Mason and Risch logo. So I'm assuming layton bros. put together the piano. Kind of like when GIbson guitars ship Epihpne the pieces and have that plant build it.

But everyone knows the in house Gibson line is better. Is that the case for my piano?

Because Mason & Risch also produced pianos under - Canadian Piano Company, Cameo, Cecilian, Chopin, Classic, Eaton, Gerhard, Ennis, Haddon Hall, Henry F Miller, Henry Herbert, Harmonic, Homer, Kreisler, New Scale Williams, Mozart, Schubert, Steinbach and Sterling. They also distributed Hallet & Davis, Harrington, Kranch & Bach, Mehlin & Son, Preston and Wadsworth.


SO did layton invest in M&R how does that work? And are all M&R pianos assembled parent companies?

Thanks

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#2203089 - 12/26/13 11:26 AM Re: Not Alot of Information on Layton Bros. Pianos [Re: CDR]
dbnigadoo Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/22/13
Posts: 1
Hi, I have a Layton Bros Piano which my grandfather gave my grandmother as a wedding gift in 1906. Its serial # is 18209. Over the years we painted it white so as to blend in with our contemporary furniture and decor. It plays wonderfully and stays tuned very well. It has been moved on numerous occasions over the years. Its a family heirloom. Denise in New Brunswick, Canada.

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