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I am just about to purchase an Erard upright with a serial number 96351. Am I right to say that it would have been made in London in about 1910?
The piano has been reconditioned. I am nervous about buying an instrument of this age. I am buying my first acoustic piano and I have tried many makes and ages, but this is the only one that I have played instantly loved. It is £900. Have you any advice about buying an older instrument?
I will check to see if it says London inside. The man said he thought it was made in France. Are there still lots of these pianos around?
I might just go for it.
my Archives page at pianogen.org
This piano was definitly made in Paris. Erard stopped manufacturing in London in 1890, and the serial numbers didn't reach the 20,000's
The number 96351 was made in 1909. Many different uprights were produced in the early XXth century, from No4 to No9. If you can give me a few details, such as number of keys, height, and type of stringing (crossed or parallel), I may be able to identify the model.
because the premises were rebuilt in 1895, and production didn't stop, although it may have been done from Paris. Can you say definitely that no Erard pianos were made in London after 1890? Where does that information come from?
Erard established the pianos and harps workshop in 1792, at No 18 Great Marlborough street, and stayed there until 1940. The front cover of Rene Beaupain's book on Erard pianos shows a page of a what seems to be 1930's brochure mentioning 3 addresses: Rue du Mail in Paris, Rue Royale in Brussels, and Great Marlborough Street in London. Pianos were produced in London until 1890, and the harps until 1940. Note that the manufacture of harps has always been the speciality of the London branch.
So Erard still manufactured musical instruments in Great Marlborough St. in the 1930s, hence the photograph of "new" premises you found in Westminster's archives.
I haven't seen any mention of Pembroke Road in Beaupain's book, but:
This webpage mentions Erard establishing a factory there in the 1840s:
http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report ... mpid=50322
And from the webpage below, Great Marlborough Street was the showroom, but the workshop was in Pembroke Road:
http://www.mcgee-flutes.com/Society%20o ... 0Pitch.htm
Perhaps they had to open a 2nd workshop to satisfy demand, and the manufacture of pianos was transferred there . In the early 19th century, the London branch was more successful than the Paris branch. Erard got in financial difficulties in France and obtain a special loan (400,000 francs) from the French government in 1811. The Paris branch was declared bankrupt in 1813, but was authorised to stay opened owing to their skills and reputation, and under the condition that the London branch would repay the debts, since it was profitable.
The London branch was managed by Pierre Erard until his death in 1855. Then, George Bruzaud was appointed manager. Three Bruzauds have been working there, and one of them took a number of patents for improvements of the action. The patents are for Edwin Bruzaud, working for Erard in Pembroke Street.
No clues about the agreement with Cramer in the 1890s. Perhaps this agreement concerned the independent retail only, and Erard were still allowed selling pianos directly. It's not my fault if Cramer didn't read the small prints.
If you rather thought that it was a mid-19th century piano, it's probably because it was straight strung, with what Erard called the "composite" frame (assembly of iron bars). If this is the case, you probably passed by a rarity: (one of) the last straight-strung pianos made by Erard. The No 1 type (made from 1851 to 1931) was the mist popular. It was last on the catalogue in 1925, but was manufactured on special order for another 6 years.
Erard was very well known for the straight-strung grands, which were in demand for a very long time by musicians who could appreciate their tone' purity compared to that of overstrung pianos. I never played a straight-strung and I would not be able to notice the difference since I don't have enough experience. And I'm half deaf. French composers such as Faure, Ravel, Poulenc were keen owners of straight-strungs, even if they could get over-strung pianos from Erard or other famous manufacturers.
Because people lived their over-strung pianos, Erard was a bit behind with the frame's design. Although the "composite" frame was very solid and was a "full" frame covering the wrest plank, when many cast frames for overstrung pianos didn't. They started the production on overstrung grands with cast frames in the early 20th century, with the 0bis type (like the one I own). That's only about 50 years too late compared to Steinway.