How Old is my Gaveau Piano?

Founded in Paris in 1847 by Joseph Gabriel Gaveau, this French firm was to gain an excellent reputation for high-quality harpsichords, and in particular small upright pianos.

By 1907, when Gaveau was passed to the founder’s son, Etienne, the firm was producing and selling over 1,000 pianos a year. Etienne Gaveau expanded the factory and had a 1,100-seat concert hall, Salle Gaveau, built in Rue la Boetie in Paris.

Between the 1910s and 1940s, the severe economic climate meant that Gaveau, now joined by his sons Marcel and Andre, had to diversify to compete with their main competitor, Pleyel. Production started of small unfretted clavichords and spinets, made possible by the short-term hiring of Arnold Dolmetsch, who designed these instruments for Gaveau between 1911 and 1914. On Dolmetsch’s return to England, Gaveau returned to producing uprights pianos only.

In 1960 Gaveau joined forces with Erard and a year later with their great rival Pleyel.

Dates and serial numbers when the pianos were manufactured 

1855 145
1860 2000
1870 7000
1880 10000
1890 21000
1900 33800
1910 51500
1920 66100
1930 88400
1940 95100
1950 102000
1960 110380
1970 115622
1980 121600
1988 122500

 

How Old is my Grotrian-Steinweg Piano?

Grotrian’s business interests took him to Moscow, where he established a successful retail concern. When he returned over a decade later to his native Germany, he founded a new piano-making partnership with Heinrich’s son, Carl Friedrich Theodore Steinweg. The moved production to Braunschweig and forged a successful business making quality pianos.

Heinrich Steinweg, meantime, have emigrated to America, change his name to Steinway and established his own company. In 1865, Heinrich died and Theodore Steinweg sold his shares and emigrated to America to run the now flourishing Steinway firm.

Dates and serial numbers when the pianos were manufactured 

1865 560
1870 1137
1880 4175
1990 7228
1900 12131
1910 24171
1920 38076
1930 61235
1940 65499
1950 67900
1960 85682
1970 104665
1980 124707
1990 141600
2001 154571

How Old is my Ibach Piano?

Ibach characterize their sound as being firm and transparent in the bass section, rich and warm in the tenor, and with a pearl-like singing tone in the treble, which is maintained at all volumes.

Producing a variety of upright and grand pianos, all Ibach instruments are made predominantly by hand. As well as producing a standard series of pianos, Ibach maintain their tradition of designing extraordinary cases.

In the 1980s, Ibach built pianos incorporating the Janko keyboard-a patented keyboard layout that enabled the player to cover a wider span of notes with each hand.

Dates and serial numbers when the pianos were manufactured

1820 464
1830 701
1840 1189
1950 1906
1960 2900
1970 3800
1980 7800
1990 20100
1900 38600
1910 63600
1920 82100
1930 96000
1940 98300
1950 98500
1960 103800
1970 117901
1980 136675
1990 147437
2000 150076

How Old is my Irmler Piano?

 Irmler had achieved a good profitable export business, particularly to North America, and they also had a steady home market. However, as other German makers were invading their home territories, Irmler quickly had to develop more aggressive tactics in selling their pianos and keep apace with the most advanced ideas of the time. In 1861 they introduced stream-driven works in their factory. Later that same year Otto died, leaving the running of the factory to his younger brother, Oswald. The success that followed marked Irmler as one of Germany’s finest makers of pianos and by the turn of  the century they had been honored by the courts of the emperor of Austria and the kings of Wurttemberg, Sweden, and Romania.

Oswald died in 1905, leaving the firm in the very capable hands of his sons, Emil and Otto. Irmler carried on producing pianos independently until the 1950s. Today they are made in Asia and European factories under the name Irmler Europe and imported into the United States by German Piano Imports.

Dates and serial numbers when the pianos were manufactured

1850 5100
1860 5500
1870 6500
1880 7500
1890 8500
1900 13250
1910 19000
1920 23000
1930 26000
1940 28000
1950 30900
1953 41000

How Old is my Kawai Piano?

In 1980 a 300,000-square-foot factory was built, capable of producing sixty grand pianos a day. In 1989 the company presidency was passed to Shigeru’s son, Hirotaka Kawai, who has since invested millions of dollars to introduce robotic technology into the production process. In the last ten years, production sites have been established outside Japan, in the U.S., and Malaysia.

Determined to find a stronger and more stable material for action parts, Kawai pioneered the use of the polymer composite acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, from which their action parts are made today.

Dates and serial numbers when the pianos were manufactured

1925 4200
1930 6000
1940 9600
1950 14200
1960 26000
1970 425121
1980 1126366
1990 1950000
2001 2410000

How Old is my Kemble Piano?

           In the early 1980s Kemble came within the whisker of closing, but at the last minute won the biggest contract to build pianos in the U.K. industry, making the Dietman range of pianos for Ibach. In 1984 Kemble fund itself in difficulties once again and once more Yamaha heavily invested in the business, this time taking majority control. By 1986 Kemble was producing pianos under the Yamaha name for the European market and a large investment was made to increase production dramatically. In 1992 Kemble achieved the Queen’s award for exports, which had more than doubled in a three-year period. Output hits its high point in 1999, when nearly 7,000 pianos were maid. Production has now been  moved to Asia.
Dates and serial numbers when the pianos were manufactured 

1930 32100
1940 70900
1950 81700
1960 109700
1970 139100
1980 197980
1990 235000
2000 298201

How Old is my Kimbal Piano?

          In 1959 the Jasper Corporation, a manufacturer of office furniture, bought the company and later changed its name to Kimball International. Its staff had no previous experience of producing pianos, and this showed, with over half of all the piano produced being returned to the factory. Production techniques did improve and were further aided by the acquisition of the great Austrian piano makers Bosendorfer in 1966 and the American firm Krakauer in 1980.

Until 1996 Kimball International continued to produce large quantities of low-priced instruments. In 1995 Kimball stopped making grand pianos and production of uprights stopped the following year. Bosendorfer still operates autonomously.

Dates and serial numbers when the pianos were manufactured

1870 14000
1880 28000
1890 8500
1900 71000
1910 211000
1920 322000
1930 383000
1940 438000
1950 517000
1960 604000
1970 764200
1980 B65951
1990 R00001
1995 R20401

How Old is my Knabe Piano?

          Despite the takeover and the formation of the Knabe Brothers Company, Knabe continued to sell their pianos and by 1916 production had reached 3,000 pianos a year. The American Piano Company became part of the Aeolian Corporation in 1932, and continued to produce upright and grand pianos until Aeolian’s collapse in 1985, when the Knabe name, equipment, patterns, and unfinished pianos were all sold to Sohmer & Co. Today the Young Chang company produces pianos bearing the Wm. Knabe name in its Korean factory and KB Knabe in its Chinese plant.

Dates and serial numbers when the pianos were manufactured

1855 5900
1860 7400
1870 13000
1880 20000
1890 33000
1900 47000
1910 68000
1920 88000
1930 107300
1940 124000
1950 144620
1960 162750
1970 179259
1980 194164

How Old is my Knight Piano?

 The Knight iron frame offers twice the strength of those in an average piano. It is a full-perimeter frame built on a girder principle that is secured to a four-post beech back. The pin block is fitted in a pocket cast into the frame for exceptional tuning stability.

There is no treble stress bar in the K10 model. Several resisting bars are cast in the bottom left-hand corner of the piano to resist the strings’ tension, eliminating the possibility of weak-sounding notes.

Hard fiber plate bushing are used to support the tuning pins to enhance tuning stability. The bass strings are covered with extra heavy pure copper, giving a total weight of 7 lbs(3kgs) a set.

Dates and serial numbers when the pianos were manufactured 

1855 420
1860 960
1870 3200
1880 7900
1890 18500
1900 30000
1910 50800
1920 67500
1930 76000
1940 76400
1950 77100
1960 86000
1970 150000
1980 175000
1990 200000
2000 209960

How Old is my Leipziger Pianofortefabrik Piano?

   Ronisch prospered between the wars, but the company’s Dresden factory was destroyed in bombing raids in 1945, and production was moved to Hupfeld’s Leipzig factory. The following year Leipzig Pianofortefabrik was born, and by 1986 annual output stood at 8,600. Following German Reunification in 1990, the production process was reorganized and the range redesigned. Carl A. Pfeiffer bought Ronisch in 1997, and established Pianofortefabrik Leipzig GmbH, a new home where the creativity and quality of the Ronisch name lives on.

Dates and serial numbers when the pianos were manufactured

1855 420
1860 960
1870 3200
1880 7900
1890 18500
1900 30000
1910 50800
1920 67500
1930 76000
1940 76400
1950 77100
1961 86000
1976 150000
1980 175000
1990 200000
2000 209960

How Old is my Mason & Hamlin Piano?

      In 1985, after the demise of Aeolian, Mason & Hamlin was acquired by the Sohmer Company, which was in turn acquired by Falcone Piano  Company in 1989. In 1995, Mason & Hamlin Companies (including Knabe, Falcone, and Sohmer), which had emerged after the buyout in 1991, filed for bankcruptcy and was rescued by Piano Disc. Under new and committed ownership, every part of the company has been revitalized and, in 2002, Mason & Hamlin pianos are near-perfect reproduction of a very best early twenteith-century models.

Dates and serial numbers when the pianos were manufactured

1885 1893
1890 5700
1900 11800
1910 19100
1920 29000
1930 39600
1940 48000
1950 57800
1960 65200
1970 74263
1980 85853
1990 90000
2000 90988

How Old is my Petrof Piano?

     New factories were built, first in 1970 to increase production of upright pianos, and then in 1989 a second plant to concentrate on the grand piano market. By 1990 serial numbers had reached 450,000.

Petrof currently produces  around 12,000 uprights and 1,750 pianos a year, and employs 1,000 people. Tovarna na piano, established in 1997, united with Petrof  in 2001, marking the climax of a privatization process that began in 1991.

Dates and serial numbers when the pianos were manufactured

1900 13000
1910 24000
1920 33400
1930 46500
1940 58000
1950 67280
1960 87200
1970 146900
1980 330000
1990 504500
2000 570000

How Old is my Pleyel Piano?

   In 1934 Pleyel acquired the firm of  Antoine Bord. In 1961, facing financial difficulties, the firm merged with the combined firms of Erard and Gaveau. This conglomerate was acquired in 1971 by the Shimmel Company, which produce a small number of Pleyel pianos each year. Then in 1994, the Rameau company bought the names of Pleyel and Gaveau, and two years later Pleyel took control once more, opening a state-of-the-art production and R&D unit in Ales in the South of France, where they continue to make superb pianos faithful to the Pleyel tradition.

Dates and serial numbers when the pianos were manufactured

1810 760
1820 2100
1836 5010
1843 10000
1854 2000
1861 30000
1870 47500
1880 77500
1890 100000
1900 122500
1910 149000
1920 168850
1930 188000
1940 197314
1950 202000
1960 206545
1970 210700
1980 227800
1990 241000
2000 261800

How Old is my Samik Piano?

Founded in 1958 by chairman Hyo Ick Lee, the company swung into full production of upright pianos under the brand name Horugel. This name would be used until the 1970s, when the Samik brand was introduced. A leading light in its domestic market, Samik became, in 1964, the first Korean company to export pianos, sending ten uprights to Hongkong. Output of uprights steadily grew and, spurred on by the Price of Piano Development awarded by the Korean Ministry of Trade and Industry in 1970, Samik became the first Korean manufacturer of grand pianos.

         The following years were to be spent securing a position on the world stage, and resources were focused on expanding the company’s exports. Samik opened a branch in West Germany in 1980 and later entered a joint venture with the American Baldwin Piano and Organ Company.

The company has worked tirelessly since its founding to expand its production facilities. By the 1990s, after several changes in factories, the company could boast separate plants for upright, grand and digital piano production, all incorporating the latest development in machinery. In 1996 Samik opened a factory in Indonesia incorporating its own wood processing plan, were both uprights and grands are now built. With a new line of pianos for the millennium-and after just forty-four years producing musical instrument-Samik have come a long way in a short time, and look set to play a significant role in the future.

Dates and serial numbers when the pianos were manufactured

1960 28017
1970 29109
1980 33444
1990 HIKO 0001*
2001 KJKA 0001*

How Old is my Sauter Piano?

The company’s reputation was firmly established by the time Carl Sauter III took charge in the 1960s. But he was dissatisfied with the notable differences in repetition speeds between the upright and grand actions, and he led the development of an improved action known as the R2, for the upright range. A new factory was opened in 1984, in which machines were installed to speed production, but the company insists that many parts are still made by hand in the traditional way.

Carl Sauter’s son, Ulrich, is now a prominent member of the firm, ensuring that the family tradition lives on into a new century, and 2001 has already seen the unveiling of a new Sauter concert grand after years of development.

Sauter developed the “2 Double Escapement Action” for upright pianos to even out the differences in touch between an upright piano action and that of a grand. The action includes an extra jack spring to aid repetition.

A grand piano was made by Sauter for the Paris Conservatory to help a pianist to perform music written for a prepared piano. It was decorated with inlaid lines on the dampers and colored lines on the soundboard to identify the keyboard layout on the strung back and also to indicate where to touch the strings to produce harmonics. This piano has now been integrated into the Sauter line.

Dates and serial numbers when the pianos were manufactured 

1840 900
1860 1624
1870 2500
1880 3300
1890 4100
1900 5000
1910 6002
1948 11150
1960 22100
1970 46200
1980 73600
1990 97400
2000 108304

How Old is my Scheidmayer & Sohne Piano?

A reputable clavichord maker, Balthasar Scheidmayer is reported to have made his first grand piano in 1735 at Erlangen in Germany.

To the end of the century both Schiedmayer firms would continue to build on their  success of their forefathers, independently achieving recognition for their fine instruments.

In 1969 the two branches merge and produced small upright and grand pianos.

Today Kawai make a range of pianos with the Schiedmayer name.

Dates and serial numbers when the pianos were manufactured

1880 11000
1890 15150
1900 20005
1910 28611
1920 35321
1930 45037
1940 49600
1950 53100
1961 54135
1970 124870
1980 126640

How Old is my Schimmel Piano?

Nikolaus Wilhelm Schimmel’s succession to the company’s leadership in 1961 saw the traditions of this fine German house pass on seamlessly to the third generation. A new factory was built in 1966 and a decision was taken to erect a new plant containing a concert hall and exhibition area; this grand project was finally completed in 1980. In that year, Schimmel made 10,000 pianos in its new facility, 1,000 of which bore a names Erard, Gaveau, or Pleyel (which they made under license between 1970 and 1993).

In tradition to its emphasis on quality or traditional skills, Schimmel has continued to innovate, and in 2001 premiered a sophisticated new range of pianos to delight players and piano technicians alike. Schimmel is now in bankruptcy.

Dates and serial numbers when the pianos were manufactured

1894 1000
1900 3500
1910 9000
1921 13900
1930 19350
1940 22100
1950 22900
1960 50000
1970 118200
1980 292000
1990 319400
2000 330000

How Old is my Seiler Piano?

 

  The company is still owned by members of the Seiler family, Ursula and Manuela, who are dedicated to preserving this make’s individual sound. Over the last five years, Seiler have re-analyzed their range of pianos to improve the quality of sound and the manufacturing process.

Seiler’s Membrator System (a specially tapered soundboard) and Tonal Volume Stabilizer (equalized tension across the bridges) increase the resonance of the soundboard and the volume of sound.

Dates and serial numbers when the pianos were manufactured

1870 2000
1880 7291
1890 15335
1900 27799
1910 43419
1920 53671
1930 71725
1940 81100
1952 82700
1960 86100
1973 100005
1980 116880
1990 145200
2000 160000

How old is my Steinway & Sons Piano?

 

             The Steinway family sold the firm to C.B.S. in 1972. In 1985 it was sold to Steinway Musical Properties, Inc., who brought in engineers from non-piano-making backgrounds to find the right balance between modern engineering and traditional handcrafted methods, in an effort to streamline the manufacturing process. This has not resulted in any evident modifications to the design of the pianos.

Dates and serial numbers when the pianos were manufactured

1860 3000
1870 21000
1881 45000
1891 70000
1900 95000
1910 140000
1920 200000
1930 271000
1940 300000
1950 332600
1960 365000
1970 418000
1980 468500
1990 516600
2000 549600

How old is my Steingraeber & Sohne Piano?

Heinrich Hermann, Burkhard’s son-in-law, became head of the firm in 1920 and his nephew Heinrich Schmidt took the reins in 1951. The Schmidt-Steingraeber family still runs the company today. In 2002 Steingraeber & Sohne unveiled a new concert grand, in celebration of their 150-year jubille, with the serial number 44000.

Steingraeber & Sohne make custom-made pianos including ecologically freindly instrument. The firm specializes in using only organic materials such as natural paints and glues in the case, and the keys are covered with cattle bone. The makers are also able to build a new instrument into existing casework, if it is no longer feasible to repair an old model.

Dates and serial numbers when the pianos were manufactured 

1860 760
1870 2100
1890 5010
1900 10000
1910 2000
1920 30000
1930 47500
1940 77500
1950 100000
1960 122500
1970 149000
1980 168850
1990 188000
2001 197314

How Old is my Stuart & Sons Piano?

All Stuart pianos are custom-made by Piano Australia Pty Ltd, who also manage the sales and the service. With each handmade piano taking about a year to complete, output is small, and most of the instruments are built to order.

Production of Welmar upright pianos continued at the London factory until 2000, when the Whelpdale, Maxwell & Codd group- making pianos with the names Welmar, Knight, Bentley, Broadwood, and Marshall & Rose – merge with the Woodchester Piano Company to form the British Piano Manufacturing Company. Today all these pianos are produced in one of the most famous piano factories in England, Woodchester Mills near Stroud.

Dates and serial numbers when the pianos were manufactured 

1925 13000
1930 16500
1940 23500
1950 50000
1960 60000
1970 70000
1980 80000
1990 108000
2000 111000

How old is my Yamaha Piano

 

                  In 1987, to celebrate its centennial, Nippon Gakki change its name to the Yamaha Corporation. Today it is the largest musical instrument manufacturer in the world, producing about 130,000 pianos a year.

Dates and serial numbers when the pianos were manufactured 

1920 2100
1930 10163
1940 31900
1950 44200
1960 122000
1970 980000
1980 3030000
1990 4820000
2000 5860000
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