1986 NY Steinway D with ONE-PIECE ivory keytops

Posted by: bosendorfer1

1986 NY Steinway D with ONE-PIECE ivory keytops - 12/12/12 11:45 PM

I am working with a client in San Diego who owns a 1986 Steinway D.

The piano has an original set of ONE-PIECE ivory keytops. I heard comments about New York Steinway having built a number of pianos in / around 1986 with ivory keytops.

Does anyone have specifics on how many or for how long New York Steinway added such a valuable bonus on their new pianos (I assume Model Ds only?).

Thank you in advance for your input.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: 1986 NY Steinway D with ONE-PIECE ivory keytops - 12/13/12 01:17 AM

No idea, but my alma mater has such an instrument (A NY model D), and the serial number dates to 1987-1988.
Posted by: BDB

Re: 1986 NY Steinway D with ONE-PIECE ivory keytops - 12/13/12 01:33 AM

I doubt Steinway has put ivory on their keys in the past 50 years, but they may have someone else do it as a special order. They stopped using ivory because it is a lousy material for key tops. I certainly would not expect them to cover it with a warranty.
Posted by: Karl Watson

Re: 1986 NY Steinway D with ONE-PIECE ivory keytops - 12/13/12 08:59 AM

Only someone who can't play and has no experience with concert giving would assert something sooooooo false. Have you forgotten that your technical work is done for a purpose, an artistic end ?

Belligerent, opinionated, abusive. It's always the same.
Posted by: Ed Foote

Re: 1986 NY Steinway D with ONE-PIECE ivory keytops - 12/13/12 10:06 AM

Originally Posted By: BDB
I doubt Steinway has put ivory on their keys in the past 50 years, but they may have someone else do it as a special order. They stopped using ivory because it is a lousy material for key tops. I certainly would not expect them to cover it with a warranty.


Greetings,
They stopped using ivory because it was too expensive. Then, the CITES treaty sealed the deal. It is the best material for key tops that any of my customers have ever seen. If one hasn't the tactile sensitivity to distinguish between the two, plastic is a lot better.
Regards,
Posted by: Tuner X

Re: 1986 NY Steinway D with ONE-PIECE ivory keytops - 12/13/12 11:07 AM

I was working at a S&S dealership at this time, as I remember it was a $4000.00 option. Two D's were sold with Ivory and one of the C&A pool D's had Ivory. All one piece and thicker than any NY two piece. They may have been some of the first KLUGE boards? Renner stacks on the B's and D's started coming from the factory around the same time as standard.
All the Best!
Posted by: BDB

Re: 1986 NY Steinway D with ONE-PIECE ivory keytops - 12/13/12 11:37 AM

Originally Posted By: Karl Watson
Only someone who can't play and has no experience with concert giving would assert something sooooooo false. Have you forgotten that your technical work is done for a purpose, an artistic end ?

Belligerent, opinionated, abusive. It's always the same.


I suspect that I have a lot more concert experience than most of the people on this board. In any case, my statement was paraphrased from an interview with Henry Z. Steinway, which you can probably find online somewhere.
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: 1986 NY Steinway D with ONE-PIECE ivory keytops - 12/13/12 11:50 AM

Originally Posted By: BDB
They stopped using ivory because it is a lousy material for key tops.


If this was the opinion, as you assert, of Henry Steinway, please provide the documentation. A vague reference is not definitive.

Since ivory is such "a lousy material" for keytops, why do manufacturers strive to attain the "touch and feel" of ivory?
Posted by: BDB

Re: 1986 NY Steinway D with ONE-PIECE ivory keytops - 12/13/12 12:04 PM

If you wish to hire me to do research, make an offer that makes it worth my while.
Posted by: Rickster

Re: 1986 NY Steinway D with ONE-PIECE ivory keytops - 12/13/12 12:39 PM

I always hate to see snarkiness in a thread. I guess it can be human nature to an extent.

Let’s try not to get bent too far out of shape here…

Rick
Posted by: masonfan

Re: 1986 NY Steinway D with ONE-PIECE ivory keytops - 12/13/12 01:26 PM

There is an abstract of an article from the New Yorker referring to an interview with Henry Steinway, from Jan. 25th 1958, that is available online. Although I don't have access to the full interview, it seems to support what BDB was stating.

Edith Iglauer and Brendan Gill, The Talk of the Town, “Change of Keys,” The New Yorker, January 25, 1958, p. 25

Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/archive/1958/01/25/1958_01_25_025_TNY_CARDS_000255790#ixzz2ExRPxgBQ
Posted by: bosendorfer1

Re: 1986 NY Steinway D with ONE-PIECE ivory keytops - 12/13/12 01:48 PM

Tuner X - thank you for your valuable insights. They ring true. Other than me imposing on David Kirkland (bless his heart) would you know of anyone else who may have further facts in regard to the original Steinway ivory installations in / around 1986? Thank you in advance.
Posted by: Rich Galassini

Re: 1986 NY Steinway D with ONE-PIECE ivory keytops - 12/13/12 02:57 PM

Louis,

I have understood it to be an option for a Steinway in the early to mid 1980's. It was also available on Falcone and Bosendorfer grands at that time, and I would imagine on others as well by special order. It was an expensive option, to be sure, but not really at all rare.

A complete ban on ivory happened sometime in the late 1980's that basically stopped these options from being offered, but we have done a few special ordered ivory keyboards since then. You just have to be able to certify where the material came from.

Posted by: Rickster

Re: 1986 NY Steinway D with ONE-PIECE ivory keytops - 12/13/12 07:07 PM

Though perhaps indirectly related to this thread, I have three acoustic pianos in my home (Yamaha, Kawai and Baldwin). Two of them have the real, one piece ivory key tops (the Yamaha and the Kawai).

The ivory does feel different than the plastic… it seems to have a better grip and less slippage. However, it does seem to attract dirt easier and needs more frequent cleaning. I’m thinking the real ivory wears faster than plastic as well.

Rick
Posted by: ando

Re: 1986 NY Steinway D with ONE-PIECE ivory keytops - 12/13/12 07:14 PM

Originally Posted By: Rickster
Though perhaps indirectly related to this thread, I have three acoustic pianos in my home (Yamaha, Kawai and Baldwin). Two of them have the real, one piece ivory key tops (the Yamaha and the Kawai).

The ivory does feel different than the plastic… it seems to have a better grip and less slippage. However, it does seem to attract dirt easier and needs more frequent cleaning. I’m thinking the real ivory wears faster than plastic as well.

Rick


Are you sure your Yamaha and Kawai have real ivory, Rick? I highly doubt it unless you bought pianos that had it retrofitted at some point (I don't know why anybody would that however). Both Yamaha and Kawai have their own proprietary composite materials that are designed to simulate ivory. They give them names like "ivorite". There is no ivory in them though. Also, almost all ivory keytops are two piece. There is a fine line at the join where the sharps end.
Posted by: Ed Foote

Re: 1986 NY Steinway D with ONE-PIECE ivory keytops - 12/13/12 07:38 PM

Greetings,
Henry Steinway may have said that ivory was a lousy material, but he had reasons that had nothing to do with playing the instrument. He was a manufacturer, and ivory was less profitable than plastic, thus it was "lousy".

However, there is a property of ivory that performing pianists understand. On a molecular, or slightly larger level(cellular?), the 'tooth' of ivory's surface is greater than the film thickness of human skin oils. This means that no matter what is on the surface, there are still "peaks" sticking up through it, so there is still a direct physical contact between skin and piano. Plastic surfaces are far flatter; when there is a film of oil on its surface, the finger never actually touches the plastic.
This has a bearing on performance, as the ivory provides a more unchanging grip from start to finish, whereas bone-dry plastic is worlds away from a keyboard that hands have just played a couple of sonatas on. This is what performers have mentioned to me, the ivory stays the same. It feels better to me, without question.
Regards,
Posted by: Rickster

Re: 1986 NY Steinway D with ONE-PIECE ivory keytops - 12/13/12 07:38 PM

Originally Posted By: ando
Are you sure your Yamaha and Kawai have real ivory, Rick? I highly doubt it unless you bought pianos that had it retrofitted at some point (I don't know why anybody would that however). Both Yamaha and Kawai have their own proprietary composite materials that are designed to simulate ivory. They give them names like "ivorite". There is no ivory in them though. Also, almost all ivory keytops are two piece. There is a fine line at the join where the sharps end.

Hi Ando,

All I can say is that you are welcome to come and inspect the pianos yourself... I'm no expert and I could be wrong, but I think my pianos have real one-piece ivory key tops. The Yamaha is a 1978 model C7 and the Kawai is a 1969 model K48A. They have the color and they have the grain. If it is a composit simulation, they did a great job duplicating the look and feel of real ivory.

Of course, I've been wrong before, but not very often... smile

Rick
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: 1986 NY Steinway D with ONE-PIECE ivory keytops - 12/13/12 07:51 PM

The CITES listing of elephant tusk ivory took place in 1989. The ban on international shipping of elephant ivory products was enacted in 1990.

The earlier imports from both Kawai and Yamaha used ivory keytops and did so until that time.

I agree with ya Rick, if you have the original keytops on your pianos, they would most certainly be ivory based on the dates.
Posted by: accordeur

Re: 1986 NY Steinway D with ONE-PIECE ivory keytops - 12/13/12 07:54 PM

Originally Posted By: Rickster
Originally Posted By: ando
Are you sure your Yamaha and Kawai have real ivory, Rick? I highly doubt it unless you bought pianos that had it retrofitted at some point (I don't know why anybody would that however). Both Yamaha and Kawai have their own proprietary composite materials that are designed to simulate ivory. They give them names like "ivorite". There is no ivory in them though. Also, almost all ivory keytops are two piece. There is a fine line at the join where the sharps end.

Hi Ando,

All I can say is that you are welcome to come and inspect the pianos yourself... I'm no expert and I could be wrong, but I think my pianos have real one-piece ivory key tops. The Yamaha is a 1978 model C7 and the Kawai is a 1969 model K48A. They have the color and they have the grain. If it is a composit simulation, they did a great job duplicating the look and feel of real ivory.

Of course, I've been wrong before, but not very often... smile

Rick



Rick, how about putting up pictures of those.

Being here in Canada, and having worked with many Yamahas and Kawais of those years, I have never seen one piece Ivory on them.

I could be wrong, but I am genuinely curious.

Regards
Posted by: Silverwood Pianos

Re: 1986 NY Steinway D with ONE-PIECE ivory keytops - 12/13/12 08:13 PM


Jean,

I have a 1966 Kawai KG5 (6’6”) that I service with genuine one piece ivory. This is an interesting machine with 3 inch cheeks, and a huge cabinet rim.

I also have a set of one piece Steinway ivory I rescued years ago. I will take some photos of both and send you a link. Ivory is difficult to photograph to see the grain and seam if there is one.
Posted by: accordeur

Re: 1986 NY Steinway D with ONE-PIECE ivory keytops - 12/13/12 08:18 PM

Thanks Dan, I would love to lay my hands, literally on those. Pictures would be great!

Thanks again.
Posted by: Silverwood Pianos

Re: 1986 NY Steinway D with ONE-PIECE ivory keytops - 12/13/12 08:27 PM


I am at that instrument next Monday.
Posted by: Tuner X

Re: 1986 NY Steinway D with ONE-PIECE ivory keytops - 12/13/12 09:49 PM

Hi Louis, Robert Snyder posts here often and could confirm the Ivory keyboards. Michael Mohr at the factory and any salesman working during these years. I would order one piece Ivory blanks from Renner into the early 80's for approx $300.00, the paperwork weighed more than the package. I would have to pick up the package at customs. But no problems. Renner would apologize that they had only #2 grade. After that I would use Yamaha Ivorite blanks, but they started asking why I needed Qty of 88 of note #88.
Back at the store in the 80's a child walked through the door and announced at the top of her voice "If you killed Elephants to build any of these pianos we are leaving" and then started her inspection. 8yrs old my guess.
All the best!
Posted by: BDB

Re: 1986 NY Steinway D with ONE-PIECE ivory keytops - 12/13/12 11:35 PM

Originally Posted By: Ed Foote
Greetings,
Henry Steinway may have said that ivory was a lousy material, but he had reasons that had nothing to do with playing the instrument. He was a manufacturer, and ivory was less profitable than plastic, thus it was "lousy".


No, he was talking about the propensity of ivory to chip, crack, yellow, and come loose.

Quote:
However, there is a property of ivory that performing pianists understand. On a molecular, or slightly larger level(cellular?), the 'tooth' of ivory's surface is greater than the film thickness of human skin oils. This means that no matter what is on the surface, there are still "peaks" sticking up through it, so there is still a direct physical contact between skin and piano. Plastic surfaces are far flatter; when there is a film of oil on its surface, the finger never actually touches the plastic.
This has a bearing on performance, as the ivory provides a more unchanging grip from start to finish, whereas bone-dry plastic is worlds away from a keyboard that hands have just played a couple of sonatas on. This is what performers have mentioned to me, the ivory stays the same. It feels better to me, without question.
Regards,


There are any number of other materials that either have the same property or can be made that with it, without the problems of ivory.
Posted by: master88er

Re: 1986 NY Steinway D with ONE-PIECE ivory keytops - 12/14/12 12:38 AM

We were importing Bechstein, Sauter and Feurich pianos in te 80's, all with one piece Ivory, and we also purchased ivory sets from Kluge, so this doesn't surprise me. I also sold numerous Kawai kg-6 pianos with ivory in the early 80's.
Posted by: Rickster

Re: 1986 NY Steinway D with ONE-PIECE ivory keytops - 12/14/12 02:49 AM

Originally Posted By: Accordeur
Rick, how about putting up pictures of those.

Being here in Canada, and having worked with many Yamahas and Kawais of those years, I have never seen one piece Ivory on them.

I could be wrong, but I am genuinely curious.

Regards

Again, I could be wrong, but that bold grain (different on each key top) is hard to ignore. Here are some pics in an old PW thread from 2010. Like Dan said, it is hard to see the grain in the photos.

Pictures of Yamaha C7 one piece ivory key tops

Not sure what else I can do or say to prove it... but you too are welcome to come and check it out for yourself.

Hope we are not drifting too far off topic.

Rick