Did You Know This About Pianos?
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© The Pierce Piano Atlas Anniversary Edition, Reprinted with the permission of the author. All rights reserved.
Interesting tidbits from the world of pianos brought to you by Piano World.
- Yamaha, established in 1887 was the first piano manufacturer in Japan.
- Link and Son’s of Binghampton, N.Y. built automatic pianos in 1916, but later became famous for building the Link Trainer for pilot training.
- Nickelodeon is a general term used to describe electrical coin operated pianos (Put another Nickel in, in the Nickelodeon (old song))
- Estey obtained patents on Vox Humana Tremolo, June 27, 1865 (a special effect in their reed organs, said to simulate a human voice).
- “With Tear in Eye” the latest record we have heard for smashing a piano in the quickest time and passing it through a nine inch ring was set in 1968 by six men representing Ireland who did it in two minutes and twenty six seconds. “Let’s hope that ends the practice”.
- “No” chuckles the “Schnoz” that’s an Optrikal delusion. I never smashed pianoers, I just had stage hands put dem togedder so loosely the audience would think I did it”. For those too young to remember, the “Schnoz” was entertainer Jimmy Durante (1893-1980)
- About 1870 Daniel F. Beatty advertised 3 string rosewood square grands for $255.
- Meister piano advertised in Etude Magazine of 1912, a new piano at $175, $1 per week or $5 per month.
- Piano player was developed in 1863 with push up cabinet, with wooden felt covered fingers that depressed keys. R. W. Piano was probably the first to build a pneumatic self playing piano, a 39 note self contained player for Needham & Sons in 1880.
- Charles Fuller Stodart invented the Ampico player for the American Piano Co.
- J.C. Stoddard, Worcester, MA invented the Calliope in 1855 (a steam driven instrument that became a staple of circuses).
- During 1869 the United States produced 25,000 pianos valued at $7,000,000. During 1910 production was 350,000 pianos, valued at $100,000,000.
- In 1851, at the London Worlds Fair, Chickering exhibited the first American made pianos shown in Europe, and took highest honors.
- Pianos were the first meaningful brand names in the U.S., the first status symbol, and the first major items sold on an installment basis, which was the cornerstone of several major banking institutions of today.
- The Thermin, of the mid 1930’s is the only musical instrument that is played without touching it. Simply speaking, it relied upon oscillation of vacuum tubes. It was a cabinet with two arms resembling the upper portion of a shepherds crook, one for the right hand and one for the left. Tonal response depended upon varying the distance of your hands from the arms that protruded up from the cabinet.
- Sears Roebuck & others sold a pretty fair Parlor Organ for as low as $19, so called Cabinet Home Organs for around $34, and folding organs at $27 about 1906.
- In 1830 Jonas Chickering entered into a partnership with Captain John Mackay, master of a fine seagoing clipper ship, which was frequently loaded with sweet toned Chickering pianos that were sold in various ports of call. Homeward bound the hold was filled with fragrant Rosewood, and richly grained mahogany for Chickering piano cases. In 1841 Captain Mackay perished in a tropical storm that destroyed his ship.
- The first Hammond organ, No. 1, with which Bob Pierce Barn-stormed back in 1935, is now in the Smithsonian. This model A bears No. 1 plate of the Hammond Clock Co., stating “licensed only for amateur and experimental use.” By the time the Hammond organ was introduced to the nations dealers at the trade show later that year, young Bob pierce was an “Old Pro.”
- Six Steinway pianos are now in the Smithsonian collection. Two additional concert grands were presented by Steinway & Sons in Dec. 1976. Van Cliburn played both at the presentation. One was an 1857 Rosewood grand, one of the earliest made by the firm, found in N.Y. in 1853, also an 1892 concert grand used by Paderewski on his American tour of 75 concerts that year. The collection also includes the 100,000 Steinway, built in 1903 and presented to the White House. In addition there is an 1873 Grand, an 1877 square, and an 1876 grand.