Steinberg Berlin

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Colin Nicholson
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Steinberg Berlin

Post by Colin Nicholson » 21 Jul 2014, 01:05

Was very interested to read the history about this piano manufacturers by an earlier post in 2005 - so I decided to start a new topic in search for a date about this piano I have just bought (and a stool which more or less matches), to be restored - see photos below. There was also a mention about requests for anyone owning an 'original' Steinberg to come forward.... well, hopefully this might fit the bill. (Not meant to be a pun Bill!)

I've just had the piano delivered today from an empty "moth eaten" house.... and when I viewed the piano on 10th July, some relatives were clearing the house - travelled up from Kent.

Pierce atlas is very vague about dates, and did they become established in 1908? [1910 = #65000] ....

The serial number on this one is #12144 - numbers punched into the exposed wrest plank near top treble.
Took the action out, and nothing on the back - but suspect it may be Langer. So would they have made about 20K pianos in a year?

I particularly like the crescent shaped front panel with carvings, and chunky oval legs. The brass inlay on the fallboard looks genuine. Key tops are celluloid, and badly engrained & yellow in the middle. Ebony keys - the grain has lifted probably caused by damp, and feel rough to the touch.
Action plays ok (ish) - loads of wobbling hammers & jacks - needs a full repin, and all leathers are badly perioshed. Sustain pedal cap has a large hole in it. All the action parts have been numbered in pencil (including the dampers - but not sure why, as nothing has been done to the dampers). The tapes have been replaced.... I would guess about 30 years ago, as the backs of the hammer balance (butts) have been hacksawed slightly for the ends of the tapes to be glued inside. Surprisingly - pitch is quite good - 517hz

The piano stool has a small metal plate nailed to the inside of the lid with the wording....
"JAMES SMITH & SON (Music Sellers) Ltd.
PIANOFORTE MANUFACTURERS
76 - 72 Lord St., Liverpool"

Might be connected to the piano - or possibly the same retailers. I am guessing it has been reupholstered, but the 'rose' carvings & fluted legs look early 1900s.

Hope this might spark off some more info if possible, and if anything connected.
Due to strip down the action soon - so might be more clues later.
Just the serial number written again on the side of the A1 key - in what looks like proper pencil, or some kind of grey inked fountain pen?
001frontb4.jpg
Steinberg
002Panel.jpg
front panel
004Profile.jpg
profile image
006Stool.jpg
stool
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Bill Kibby
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Steinberg Berlin

Post by Bill Kibby » 21 Jul 2014, 13:35

I estimate that this piano was made around 1922, and I have updated my list of Steinberg numbers at
http://pianohistory.info/numbers.html

The second half of the page is alphabetical, so the Steinberg list is quite near the bottom, probably three-quarters of the way down, although you can search for Steinberg.

Stools can often be quite unrelated to pianos, and Smith was not "Ltd." until about 1934.
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Colin Nicholson
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Re: Steinberg Berlin

Post by Colin Nicholson » 21 Jul 2014, 16:15

Thanks Bill

Don't know if you agree, but it has a slight 'art deco' look to it.... or was this mainly an English thing?
Legs having a very chunky/ rounded 'D' shape (on its side).. and the crescent might spell Deco!
I guessed the stool was not related - but having thin carved lines down each leg, may simulate the border effect on the front panel .... again, may be a selling point!

The inside of the fall & inside of the top lid is like chalk & cheese - complete contrast in colour.... so a risky session involved to strip down & see what's underneath.

cheers

Colin
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Re: Steinberg Berlin

Post by Bill Kibby » 21 Jul 2014, 17:55

Those curves are thought to be more related to the earlier Art Nouveau, and were common around 1920. Too early for Art Deco. I think it has already been stripped, it probably would have been French-polished at that time, although some weren't. In its original finish, there might have been more evidence of Art Nouveau.
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Re: Steinberg Berlin

Post by Colin Nicholson » 22 Jul 2014, 00:26

It has probably been 'Mr Sheened' to death.... loads of flat areas. The side cabinet (left & right) is still fairly good & French Polished - a little flatter on the bottom door/ cheeks etc.... but I can't see any natural grain. Part of the polish has rubbed off on the key slip rail, revealing a strong purple colour.... supposedly mixed with a dark or medium garnet polish, would bring it back.

Very interesting though the art noveau aspect.

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Re: Steinberg Berlin

Post by Bill Kibby » 25 Jul 2014, 00:18

Looking at the numbers again, and guessing the way it MIGHT have looked originally, I wonder if the first two digits of the numbers may actually represent the year, most of the estimate are close to that, so 12000 might be 1912?

The floral carvings in the corners still support a connection with Art Nouveau.
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Re: Steinberg Berlin

Post by Colin Nicholson » 25 Jul 2014, 01:05

That's interesting Bill

I fully understand that serial numbers are never set in stone - even after you have estimated 1922 (and for others who are viewing this) .... there is good reason for your change in 'policy' .... we might never know the exact date, and hopefully we may come across another similar in design. As a possible last resort, I found several Steinbergs in the Phillips auction guide, but none of them fitted this description.

I've not yet fully checked it over (busy decorating the room it's now in!), but when I looked behind the front panel, there are about 2 or 3 centre pins hammered in place of the small 'self tapping' screws that were originally in place. It might suggest the inner crescent panels were removed, or perhaps the screws snapped off - but judging by the rest of the fixings, they look fairly thorough & 'German' . The screws are angled in. No where near the polishing stages, just at the assessment stage - weighing things up/ history etc.

The wrest plank seems to be coated with some kind of grey lacquer? .... this also resembles the coating on the key capstan wires - and remarkably (unlike the lenz I previously restored), they are in excellent condition - not a scrap of rust or corrosion on the wires or threads (just a taj on some of the string coils).... and the capstans turn freely by hand, but still tight.

Not sure about serial number formats for this.... but I've learnt that sometimes cast numbers on the frame below, often depict the year by the first numbers.... eg Bell of London did that. Not fully investigated the lower frame yet - but will post a photo if I see any numbers/ letters etc.

I'm hoping this is a good piano to restore - and hopefully want to know the "ins and outs" of every detail about this piano. Is this design quite rare? .... and have you seen these carvings in this crescent shape before?
Quite excited at the prospects of a good find.... but I know, I never hold my breath!!

Photo of serial number showing exact location/ punched number design (very linear and thin text) ......
016SerialNo_Location.jpg
Serial number location
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Re: Steinberg Berlin

Post by NewAge » 25 Jul 2014, 08:45

Colin, an interesting thread. Your photos appear to show a well-made, pretty sturdy piano. Does it have two or three pedals?
A random search threw up this Steinberg Berlin http://www.amadeus-pianos.com.ar/es/ven ... rg%201.jpg which appears to have a similar leg style and interesting cabinet embellishments.
And another.
http://www.pianosesther.be/Wilh-Steinbe ... 1925-3.jpg.
I was playing the piano in a zoo, when the elephant burst into tears. I said, "Don't you recognize the tune?" He replied, "No, I recognize the ivories!"

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Re: Steinberg Berlin

Post by Bill Kibby » 25 Jul 2014, 10:57

The practice of allowing a thousand numbers per year was not uncommon, and some makers aligned the first 2 digits with the year. For more details see

http://pianogen.org/numbers.html
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Re: Steinberg Berlin

Post by Colin Nicholson » 26 Jul 2014, 13:49

Interesting info & photos.
There are just the standard 2 pedals.... soft & sustain.
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Colin Nicholson Dip. Mus. CMIT CLCM PTLLS
Piano tuning & repairs. Full UK restoration service
http://www.aatuners.com
Tuition ~ Accompaniment ~ Weddings
http://www.pianotime1964.com
Member of The Guild of Master Craftsmen

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