Yet another what is it.

Posted by: Hermann Obereth

Yet another what is it. - 06/12/06 08:12 PM

It must be loathsome for a new guy to ask what kind of piano do I have. I stumbeled across this forum today and thought Hey I'll ask the pros.

About 1990 I bought a used 5 foot baby grand from Colton in the Bay Area. At the time the salesman said it was a Horner (like the hormonica) I didn't give it another thought. With no decal on the fall board who knows. I liked the fell.

So fast forward through a few tunnings and a move and I break a hammer shank.

(LSS) Horner never made a piano. I just wanted a couple parts not a "Unsolved Mystery"

It starts getting interesting. First the case is very high quality magogony the sides are 1,7/8 inch thick heavier than average. It ia branded on the inside left with 8649 no other markings except a crayon date in blue on the bottom of the pin board. March 1933. The piano has a great spruce sound board. Looks tight grained like a fine guitar. This is a well made insturment.

Here is the strange part. The action supports have a 1928 date. The whippens have coil springs on the repitition levers mounted next to the hooks. No hairpin springs. The whippens look a lot like Baldwin concert grand. But the flange is knotched like a regular Baldwin not contoured like the shank flange mounts etc..

The strangest part is conical wooden resonators press fit in the soundboard. The resonators come up through the holes in the harp like speakers. The harp has no markings or numbers. But the holes are in the shape of the Star of David.

So is it a mystery piano a prototype or is there someone that knows this as the famous ACME #123 that Wylie Coyote played.

Any suggestions would be appreciated I know I know "Doesn't anyone ever introduce themselfs anymore"

R M
Posted by: Jake Jackson

Re: Yet another what is it. - 01/11/15 11:56 AM

If the dealer is still around, try contacting them. They may have an old sales record that would tell you more.

Pictures would help. Upload some of the harp. (I want to see those wooden resonators, too. Are they instead horns, meant to function like the bell of a horn?)

Are you absolutely sure that there are no other markings on the harp? Did you look on both the top and the bottom under a bright light? Any text or markings may offer a clue, even if they do not directly state the maker. (Aeolians, for example, sometimes had text saying something along the lines of "American craftsmanship" or simply "Made in America")

My guess, a wild one, would in fact be that you may have an Aeolian. If it is an Aeolian, the 1928 date would be very good news. Their earlier pianos were usually better than their later pianos. They came to have one of the largest piano manufacturing plants in the US and put out many pianos under varying names. They thus did not print their own company's name on the inside, so that one of many brand names could be used on the label above the keyboard. They also bought up several piano makers, including Mason and Hamlin, and created pianos under the original name, while using their own manufacturing plant in New York. I should warn you that they are not a well-liked company. As their plant grew, they produced many mediocre or bad pianos, some with an aluminum harp, and got worse with time, and their versions of Mason and Hamlin pianos are said to be inferior to the original. (I've never played or seen one.) However, they also were capable of producing more expensive, solid, decent, and sometimes good pianos. It was such a large company, producing so many variations on the piano, that they sometimes got it right. They were never, remotely, Baldwin or Steinway and Sons, but even before they acquired patents from other companies, they often experimented. They more or less invented the self-playing piano, for better or worse. They started Vocalion records, a somewhat brave move at the time. Those resonators sound like something they may have tried.

(I own a much more recent, little, studio Aeolian that was originally sold by Riches, a well-known, large department store in Atlanta. Corners were obviously cut on the outside--boxy looking, plain, no music desk--just a curved strip of wood along the front to hold a few pieces of sheet music. Inside, it's plain, too, but fine, for a small piano. It's an instrument, not a toy--good hammer alignment, tuning pins that hold the pitch, etc. The tone reminds me of a Hamilton, or how a Hamilton would sound if it was a little bigger. Not wonderful or rich, but playable if its brightness is understood and acceptable. Given your description, your grand is probably much better. Do you like the tone? Does it play well?)

But, again, post pictures. Want to see those resonators or horns.

Posted by: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Yet another what is it. - 01/11/15 12:12 PM

It could be a Hornung and Moeller, the family was active in the Bay area until sometime in the late 1940's and I think only sold pianos in the bay area. I don't think they had any other dealers. The few I have seen have seen had some unusual features. Not one of them struck me as capable of being top quality sound. The scales were strange.