1913 Mason/Hamlin Model A

Posted by: ivanandarthur

1913 Mason/Hamlin Model A - 11/13/09 08:58 PM

I'm going to see this on Sunday; the owner is asking $3489.00 for it. He says it has been in his family for 66 years and not played much the last few. I have read in The Piano Book that M&H model A's are worth restoring, but I won't be able to restore it all at once, just a bit at a time, so whatever we get needs to be playable right away. We have an old upright that just won't hold a tune right now and the kids could use a decent piano - they are both somewhat serious students. Nothing in our house is new and we have no interest in a brand new piano, either, but a quality vintage is attractive. We would prefer a grand over another upright since the responsiveness is supposed to be so much better.

I know that no one can judge it without seeing and playing it but I wonder if the asking price is in the ballpark. I've seen a few other grands of about the same vintage for around the same price. Any thoughts?
Thanks much.

Oh, and I wouldn't buy any piano without having it inspected!
Posted by: Cy Shuster, RPT

Re: 1913 Mason/Hamlin Model A - 11/13/09 11:16 PM

I'd say that's a decent price in almost any condition. I'd double-check the serial number to make sure of the year.

When properly rebuilt, you'd get an instrument worth a whole lot more. The person that inspects it should be able to give you a value estimate as well.

--Cy--
Posted by: Keith D Kerman

Re: 1913 Mason/Hamlin Model A - 11/13/09 11:29 PM

A 1913 Mason & Hamlin A has the potential to be an extraordinary sub 6' piano. $3489 is a fair price even considering a piano of that age and quality deserves a first class and comprehensive rebuild.
The Masons from that period are among the greatest pianos ever made and when rebuilt properly are real works of art. Nothing made today is similar.
Posted by: pianobroker

Re: 1913 Mason/Hamlin Model A - 11/14/09 02:18 AM

In that you are investing in a near 100 year old piano,it probably is in your best interest to assess it's PRESENT condition as for meeting your IMMEDIATE needs taking into consideration you need a piano for that "somewhat serious student" A total "core" rebuilder may not be the route to go. A typical 1914 M&H A if all "original" will most likely be worn out. If you are gonna delay restoration and maybe proceed in stages.the piano's present condition might not cut it. As Keith mentioned ,it is a fair price for that core rebuilder but many in that era are unplayable.You have a good game plan in the future as for restoring a quality piano but be aware of your present needs.
The piano may have been somewhat refurbished 50 years ago upgrading it's playability level but you'll soon see.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: 1913 Mason/Hamlin Model A - 11/14/09 06:54 AM

You need to be sure how much it's going to cost to make "playable" and find out what "playable" will mean. It could cost many thousands not including refinishing the case and the case could easily be in very bad shape. Are you prepared to spend the money on a full or near full restoration restoration? Could be easily over 25K. If you just spend money to make it playable, it may not sound so good.

You need to hire someone who can answer all the above questions and not only evaluate what needs to be done but can give an accurate estimate of rebuilding costs in various stages. The piano could be anything from a great find(if in much better than average condition) to a piano that will only sound decent will a big investment and reach its full potential with a much bigger investmnet.
Posted by: fingers

Re: 1913 Mason/Hamlin Model A - 11/14/09 09:31 AM

Ditto what plover said.

fingers
Posted by: charleslang

Re: 1913 Mason/Hamlin Model A - 11/14/09 02:06 PM

Wow it seems like the market these days it pretty unbelievable when it comes to these pianos and also to some extent Baldwins, I think.

The case might not even be in bad shape if it was in one family for that long. It may well have just been sitting in one living room for decades and might have only gotten scratches from the kids running around the legs.

If you're not extremely familiar with the various brands of piano; what you often hear about Mason and Hamlin (usually from their owners) is that many think they are better than Steinways. I think on the M&H web site they say the A is widely thought to be the best piano under 6 feet, or something like that.

It might be a good deal but of course you can't be sure until you know the details.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: 1913 Mason/Hamlin Model A - 11/14/09 03:22 PM

Originally Posted By: charleslang
Wow it seems like the market these days it pretty unbelievable when it comes to these pianos and also to some extent Baldwins, I think.


I'm not an expert on prices for Masons that age, but I don't see anything unbeleivable about the price unless it's in much better condition than average for a piano that age. Keith, who should know, described the price as "fair".
Posted by: charleslang

Re: 1913 Mason/Hamlin Model A - 11/14/09 03:30 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: charleslang
Wow it seems like the market these days it pretty unbelievable when it comes to these pianos and also to some extent Baldwins, I think.


I'm not an expert on prices for Masons that age, but I don't see anything unbeleivable about the price unless it's in much better condition than average for a piano that age. Keith, who should know, described the price as "fair".


I didn't mean it wasn't fair in this market. But it is a low price. Even among the low-priced M&H A's you see come up on craigslist.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: 1913 Mason/Hamlin Model A - 11/14/09 04:03 PM

Perhaps, but I would assume if Keith described the price as "fair", this means neither too high nor particularly low. The few A's of similar vintage on Pianomart were about the same price.
Posted by: charleslang

Re: 1913 Mason/Hamlin Model A - 11/14/09 04:07 PM

As you wish!
Posted by: ivanandarthur

Re: 1913 Mason/Hamlin Model A - 11/15/09 06:28 PM

Thanks to everyone who weighed in on this subject. I just returned from looking at the piano and found it to be in almost unbelievably good condition. The case has very few scratches and still has a nice polish to it, the ivories were all there and faded, but felt good. The hammers have VERY little wear, the strings appeared dusty - not rusty, A4 sounded good to the tuning fork, and although some of the unisons were obviously in serious need of tuning it was otherwise in "playable" condition. There was no sign of reconditioning anywhere, and the owner stated that there had not been any work done to it in the last 66 years. We were amazed.

And, despite my previous assertion that I wouldn't without buy anything without having it inspected, I bought it. I did take a class in piano tuning earlier this year, so even though I'm a complete novice in the business, I believe I know a little bit more than the average piano buyer. I'm quite certain that someone else would have snatched this up and I didn't want to take that chance. (Okay, I'll take my scolding now....!)

I'll post some photos when we get it if anyone is interested.

Thanks again for your responses and sharing your expertise. Very much appreciated!
Posted by: BDB

Re: 1913 Mason/Hamlin Model A - 11/15/09 06:39 PM

You probably did fine.
Posted by: ChasT

Re: 1913 Mason/Hamlin Model A - 11/15/09 06:51 PM

Congratulations! It sounds like you got exactly what you were looking for. Maybe better.

So, how does it play and sound? It sounds like you may be able to enjoy it as is for a while and begin restoration on your schedule rather than the piano's. Since you seem to have a good original finish, you might even consider leaving that as is.

By all means, post pictures, inside and out.

Charles
Posted by: ivanandarthur

Re: 1913 Mason/Hamlin Model A - 11/15/09 07:18 PM

Thanks! It sounds great to my ears. The bass sounds lovely, deep, and not at all muddy. I'm not great at description, (nor am I an accomplished pianist), but the whole thing sounded rich and full. Our big upright sounds thinner in comparison.

My piano instructor has the same piano; not sure exactly what year but it must be close to this one. The touch and tone seemed the same to me. I'm so excited to tell her about it on Tuesday. Her tuner is also a rebuilder and these are some of his favorite pianos. When we get it I'll contact him to see what he recommends as far as a rebuilding schedule. I know that he has worked with her on rebuilding her's in stages.

Can't wait, can't wait. This is incredibly exciting.
Posted by: charleslang

Re: 1913 Mason/Hamlin Model A - 11/15/09 07:27 PM

Congratulations! I have to be honest - I envy you a little for that deal!

Do post pictures!

I wonder if the hammers are original or were replaced before the family got it 66 years ago. It will be interesting to see what a technician has to say regarding doing work on it, as you say, after seeing it.
Posted by: ivanandarthur

Re: 1913 Mason/Hamlin Model A - 12/12/12 02:38 PM

kelle green photography

Well, several years later....

I thought that maybe people might still be interested in seeing this. It turned out to be an "AA" instead of an "A".
Posted by: Rich D.

Re: 1913 Mason/Hamlin Model A - 12/12/12 03:07 PM

Very very nice. I'm sure you and your family love playing it.

Rich
Posted by: Steve in Cincy

Re: 1913 Mason/Hamlin Model A - 12/12/12 11:33 PM

Wow, that is very beautiful. The pictures and the restoration job look spectacular.
Did you ever post any of the "before" pictures? I would have loved to have seen those, too.
Posted by: Steve Chandler

Re: 1913 Mason/Hamlin Model A - 12/13/12 01:31 PM

I would suggest that the direct sunlight will in the long run be deleterious to the piano. I hope it lives behind blinds almost all the time.