I don't know about you guys? Perfect Ivory.

Posted by: accordeur

I don't know about you guys? Perfect Ivory. - 11/13/12 10:36 PM

I have a friend who owns a Steinway upright from 1879.

I tune it and have replaced the strings, most of the action. A big job.

I can swear that the Ivory keys on this piano are ALL original. No chips, beautiful grain, perfect fit. It almost makes me cry.

I don't want Ivory on new pianos, but I have to be humble when seeing such workmanship.

I miss that.
Posted by: Ed Foote

Re: I don't know about you guys? Perfect Ivory. - 11/13/12 10:41 PM

Originally Posted By: accordeur
I have a friend who owns a Steinway upright from 1879.
I tune it and have replaced the strings, most of the action. A big job.
I can swear that the Ivory keys on this piano are ALL original. No chips, beautiful grain, perfect fit. It almost makes me cry.
I don't want Ivory on new pianos, but I have to be humble when seeing such workmanship.
I miss that.


Greetings,
Yes, there were some real artists back then. I have a 1888 Steinway A with perfect ivory. There is no hint of a joint line on these keys, unless you get the light just right and notice the difference in the ivory pattern.
I have laid out and installed a complete set of ivory, but it showed the line after 10 years, so I am not sure what they did to keep the joint so clean. I have been told that it is the result of a three angle joint and certain pressure in installation, but I wasn't up to the skill level I wanted to be, ( and with the trouble involved in getting a tusk off a perfectly good elephant, I don't think I will have a chance to try, again...)
Regards,
Posted by: accordeur

Re: I don't know about you guys? Perfect Ivory. - 11/13/12 10:56 PM

Thank you Mr. Foote!!!

I have tried and tried, then tried again over the years to match old keytops with other sets. Sometimes with success, but never to my satisfaction. I had and still have access to a large amount of old key tops. Probably over a thousand.

What I learnt is that, no matter, you can't match it.

You can try with some success, but it will never be like the original.

Many sets were made from a single tusk.

Depending on the elephant, his diet etc... all the tusks are different.

Some are more opaque, others more translucid.

So how did these guys back in the 1800,s match them so well so that today they are still intact?

This thread could be a short, or long history of Ivory?

Greenhouses for ivory?
Posted by: BDB

Re: I don't know about you guys? Perfect Ivory. - 11/14/12 02:18 AM

I have seen ivory keytops which the owner had believed were original, but it was obvious to me that some had been replaced. I am not about to spoil their delusion.

Old Steinways had ivory fronts, which are a disaster. The wood and the ivory move at different rates, and the ivory cracks. That is why celluloid fronts were adopted so early on.

The piano for tonight's concert, a 1928 D, had one plastic keytop when I first worked on it. I found ivory that matched pretty well, glued the front to the tail, and then glued the entire piece onto the key. Then I filed it flat, and shaped it to match. I can still tell that it does not match exactly, but unless you point it out, nobody is going to notice. I always start with ivory from the same key. If it is a G, I find a front that came from a G, with a tail that has the proper width. As the dimensions of keys vary so much, it can take a long time to find one which is the proper size. Color is a problem, because they will usually lighten up as they are filed. Some ivory has a striped vein that has to be matched, too.

Ivory wears out. I have seen ivory worn so thin you can see through it. If you have really nice ivory, the piano has not been used much.

Probably the best ivory I have seen has been on Mason & Hamlins. Mine is still pretty good, but it is getting worn. My wife's Steinway has some ivory which was discolored from being lost under the keys, but she does not want me to replace it.
Posted by: pianolive

Re: I don't know about you guys? Perfect Ivory. - 11/14/12 06:55 AM

There were ivory of different quality, the cheapest could even be from walrus!
When the ivory was cut, it got sorted and packed in boxes, one box for each keyboard. Each piece of ivory was numbered on the back side so they knew on which key to glue each piece. All pieces in a box were like each other. That's why it is so difficult to match new ivory to the old pieces.
In exclusive pianos you can find ivory in one piece for each key.
There are different ways to glue ivory, using gauze over the glue is a common method. I use a white powdet glue mixed with water and heated in the glue pot.
Posted by: Withindale

Re: I don't know about you guys? Perfect Ivory. - 11/14/12 07:22 AM

Originally Posted By: BDB
Ivory wears out. I have seen ivory worn so thin you can see through it. If you have really nice ivory, the piano has not been used much.

When ivory wears out what are the best and most cost effective modern materials for replacing it?

Please let me know if this should be, or has already been answered, in another thread.
Posted by: CC2 and Chopin lover

Re: I don't know about you guys? Perfect Ivory. - 11/14/12 08:02 AM

Quote:
When ivory wears out what are the best and most cost effective modern materials for replacing it?


This stuff is excellent:

http://howardpianoindustries.com/simulated-ivory-piano-keytops.html