Steinway & Sons is one of the most recognized piano brands in the world throughout its history. It has been in business for about 150 years. In 1880, Steinway factories produced 2,000 pianos per year. The production was increased to 2, 500 in year 1890 and was doubled in 1900. This total number of piano productions has been maintained up to the present.
The first piano produced by Steinway were square pianos that caused a sensation and was awarded a gold medal at the 1855 fair of the American Institute. The firm continued the improvements and produced upright and grand pianos that has been acknowledged in the world as the finest even in this century.
Each piano of Steinway was hand-built and it took a long process to build one. It received many awards in the past because of the quality of the sound and the instrument itself. It graced many homes, institutions and concert halls since it was presented in the market in 1853. It was the piano of choice for many members of royal family and world renowned musicians and the dream piano of both professional and amateur pianists.
Some people believed that the early productions of Steinway pianos have better quality than Steinway pianos of 21st century. Henry E. Steinway, a person that established the Steinway firm aimed a quality hand-craftsmanship and innovative techniques and that was followed by his skilled workers in the early years of productions and up to the time when his family was still running the business.
However, because of the World War II, all piano companies halted from manufacturing pianos including Steinway. After the war, they decided to return to business, but the labor and material cost increased and decided to sell the Steinway Hall to cover the costs. The company kept on operating and producing quality pianos, however, the cost of labor and material never declined but continued to soar. More competitors were selling cheaper pianos in the market. Because of this, the family decided to sell the company and finally sold it to CBS in 1972. CBS then sold it to Boston groups in 1985. After 10 years of operating the business, Boston also sold Steinway to Selmer Co. in 1995. Recently, the biggest purchaser of stock of Steinway is the Samick Musical Instruments Co., Ltd, one of the world’s largest producer of musical instruments in the world from South Korea.
The “sell-out” created rumors that the companies were more concerned of the profits compromising the quality of the pianos. Whether this rumor was true or not, what matter is the fact that Steinway still survived until this time. Those who are interested in purchasing a Steinway piano are given a choice to either buy pianos that were built more than a century ago or pianos that were made in this modern time. There are many old pianos that were restored and rebuilt in the market today. One could choose the age of a piano that he or she wanted to purchase.
How to know the age of Steinway pianos? Well, each Steinway piano has serial number to identify the year it was produced. It is 4 to 6 digit number located on the cast iron above the keyboard between the tuning pins for grand pianos and on the top of the wrestplank above the cast iron plate when you open the lid of upright pianos For example, if you see number 1000 on your piano, your piano was produced in year 1856 and it is about a century and a half years old. Four and five digit serial numbers were pianos created in the middle to the end of the 19th century while the 6-digit serial numbers were pianos produced in the beginning of 20th century up to the present.
Steinway pianos survived World War I and II, the Great Depression and even the present time of electronics. It is still considered as the world finest piano and every musicians’ dream. Knowing the age of your piano can give you the idea of its quality and worth.