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#2053702 - 03/24/13 09:06 PM Can't find any history on our piano
laker28 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/24/13
Posts: 2
Loc: Ontario Canada
I bought this baby grand for my wife recently. I'm guessing it is from the the 1940's ...int that era.....anyway the decal on the inside says Francis S Matthews, with a serial number of 51183. Can someone shade any light on this piano. It has beautiful tone , and we would just like to know a little history on it. The previous owner tried as well with no luck.

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#2053803 - 03/25/13 04:22 AM Re: Can't find any history on our piano [Re: laker28]
miscrms Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/29/12
Posts: 187
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Is there any name cast into the iron plate anywhere? If not there is a good chance that you have whats known as a "stencil piano." These pianos were mass produced with no name on them, and sold in bulk to various resellers to put their own names on. Pretty much anyone that could buy them in quantity could buy them wholesale and put whatever name they wanted on it, so there was a huge number of these names many of which will have no traceable history. If you know the area that the piano originally came from, you might research the piano dealers in the area at the time. Sometimes the dealers would put their own name on the pianos as a sort of "house brand" to give the impression that they made or commissioned their own pianos. One source for this kind of info can be newspaper advertisements, or city directories / phone books of the era. There were also a ton of small piano makers back in the day, some of whom likely bought generic cast frames and other parts and assembled their own pianos. This was probably more true earlier in the century though, by the 1940s the depression and the war had wiped out most of the small makers.

Good luck!

Rob
_________________________
1874 Steinway Upright "Franken" Stein

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#2053926 - 03/25/13 10:48 AM Re: Can't find any history on our piano [Re: laker28]
Cy Shuster, RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/18/05
Posts: 3458
Loc: Albuquerque, NM
You can contact the Pierce Piano Atlas people directly for a history search:

http://www.pianoatlas.com

--Cy--
_________________________
Cy Shuster, RPT
www.shusterpiano.com
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Director, PTG Norfolk 2016 Technical Institute
http://convention.ptg.org

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#2053937 - 03/25/13 11:00 AM Re: Can't find any history on our piano [Re: laker28]
fishbulb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/01/13
Posts: 50
I think Rob has got it. Probably a stencil piano.

Take a look at this Google Books search result

Francis S. Matthews was the proprietor of "Matthews Piano Warerooms" in Brooklyn, NY from as early as 1902 to at least 1915. Another possibility, besides a stencil piano, is that this piano started as a different brand, and the Matthews company refinished it and put their name on it. According to the advertisement, the company offered repair, refinishing, and rebuilding services.

Regarding the quality of the piano, it may still have been a very fine instrument - many good pianos were build during this era - but an inspection from a professional piano tech will tell you a lot more.

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#2053965 - 03/25/13 11:44 AM Re: Can't find any history on our piano [Re: laker28]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Fallboards and soundboards are quite patient - anyone can stick any decal onto them and they won't complain. Unless there is a name cast into the iron plate (and not applied with adhesives or screws) the instrument in question is probably a stencil piano. The vast majority of these were entry level and lower quality instruments, often assembled by furniture makers in an effort to diversify to stay in business. They were cheap when they were new, and not many have improved by seven or nine decades of aging. This is not to say that you can't have fun with one, but there is not much value there.
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#2054095 - 03/25/13 03:55 PM Re: Can't find any history on our piano [Re: laker28]
miscrms Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/29/12
Posts: 187
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Good find fish, looks like a very likely candidate. If the piano is now in Ontario, then it hasn't wandered too far from home smile

Rob
_________________________
1874 Steinway Upright "Franken" Stein

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#2054139 - 03/25/13 05:28 PM Re: Can't find any history on our piano [Re: miscrms]
JohnSprung Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/11
Posts: 3633
Loc: Reseda, California
Originally Posted By: miscrms
There were also a ton of small piano makers back in the day, some of whom likely bought generic cast frames and other parts and assembled their own pianos.


Indeed, there was a foundry called O.S. Kelly located in Indiana that specialised in piano plates. If the plate says O.S. Kelly, it's a stencil piano. Steinway bought Kelly in 1999.
_________________________
-- J.S.



Knabe Grand # 10927
Yamaha CP33
Kawai FS690

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#2054475 - 03/26/13 10:01 AM Re: Can't find any history on our piano [Re: JohnSprung]
AndyJ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/29/12
Posts: 225
Loc: Near Dayton, Ohio USA
Originally Posted By: JohnSprung
Originally Posted By: miscrms
There were also a ton of small piano makers back in the day, some of whom likely bought generic cast frames and other parts and assembled their own pianos.


Indeed, there was a foundry called O.S. Kelly located in Indiana that specialised in piano plates. If the plate says O.S. Kelly, it's a stencil piano. Steinway bought Kelly in 1999.

Actually the O.S. Kelly foundry is about ten miles up the highway from me, in Springfield, Ohio. Steinway bought the company in 1999 and as far as I know, O.S. Kelly still casts the plate for every US-made Steinway. There used to be another piano-plate foundry in Springfield, and I remember being told the two companies supplied nearly all the plates for the entire US piano industry for many years.

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#2054478 - 03/26/13 10:04 AM Re: Can't find any history on our piano [Re: laker28]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 24457
Loc: Oakland
The other plate factory was Wickham.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2054576 - 03/26/13 02:18 PM Re: Can't find any history on our piano [Re: BDB]
laker28 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/24/13
Posts: 2
Loc: Ontario Canada
Thanks everyone for all the information....I went looking for the mark to indicate it is a stencil piano, but all I can see is K5 on the metal plate near the back of the piano.

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#2054588 - 03/26/13 03:00 PM Re: Can't find any history on our piano [Re: laker28]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Originally Posted By: laker28
...I went looking for the mark to indicate it is a stencil piano, but all I can see is K5 on the metal plate near the back of the piano.
I think you have it turned around - if you don't see an un-alterable mark of a specific brand, then it is, for all purposes, a stencil piano.
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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