Brinsmead #59734

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Tamara Petroff
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Brinsmead #59734

Post by Tamara Petroff » 29 Apr 2017, 14:59

Hello! I've just acquired a Brinsmead (and sons) piano with serial number 59734. I'm curious to find out more about it (it would be fantastic to be able to trace some of the previous owners, but that's probably a pipe dream.) When I looked up the serial number, I came up with an approximate date of 1909 (by doing the maths in the 5-year range) HOWEVER when I took the keys off to clean them I found one key with a handwritten log that covers one side and goes halfway down the other. It appears to be a log of tuning dates (I can think of nothing else it would be) and the earliest date is 24-09-07. The log ends in 1933. There is a name at the top of it which is very hard to read but after some work enhancing it electronically I think it's G.C. (or possibly G.E.) Osborn(e). The dealer's badge on the front is from James Vickers of Bolton - and I found him in the 1911 census (he had two sons working in his shop and the family had a servant ... so it must have been a prosperous business!) The man I got the piano from lives in Workington, Cumbria, but he knows nothing about the history of the instrument other than that he bought it from a local charity shop 6 years ago.

I found a 1915 Brinsmead catalogue online, and my one bears a strong resemblance to Style 14, the "Semi-cottage vertical strung". The dimensions match. The details are different though.

The things I'd like to know are:

Is it safe to say that the manufacture date is 1907?

What would it have cost originally?

What are the possible woods that it could be made of?

Is there any way to trace the original purchaser?

Is there any way to find out anything about the Osborn(e) fellow (presumably a professional piano tuner) that seems to have maintained it for a quarter of a century?

Thanks in advance!

Here are a couple of pictures. I can take more if you want to see other details.
Brinsmead 59734 closed.jpg
Brinsmead 59734 open.jpg

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Bill Kibby
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Re: Brinsmead #59734

Post by Bill Kibby » 01 May 2017, 21:41

There are no original archives available to trace the original purchaser, or history of the individual piano. I am not the best person to ask about woods. It's important to realise that most pianos cannot be reliably dated purely on the basis of numbers, but I would put 59734 around 1907, which fits in with the tuning dates, and seems about right for its appearance. Have a look at my Edwardian page at
http://www.pianohistory.info/edwardian.html

I have certainly heard of Vickers, and I will see what I can find about Osborne. I have the world's largest directory of UK piano firms.

As for prices, a 1905 Article in the Musical Herald: Pianos in L.C.C. Schools: The London County Council has been reconsidering the question of the supply of pianos to the schools, and from a considerable number of manufacturers, selected four firms to send in sample pianos, upon which special reports have been made by the Council's Musical Adviser. The selected firms made offers as follows: (1) John Brinsmead & Sons, to supply 50, at a cost of 22.10s each, and to tune each four times a year for 12s 6d.

1914-1919 Charles Begg & Co.'s stockbooks: The biggest seller was Charles Begg’s own brand. Seventy-three were sold, at prices ranging between £35 and £60. Most were around £50 and up, and the cheaper models would have been second-hand. £50 in 1914 equals approximately $10,000 now. The next biggest seller was the Brinsmead, which mostly sold for £80 – though one, presumably a grand, was £175.
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Tamara Petroff
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Re: Brinsmead #59734

Post by Tamara Petroff » 04 May 2017, 11:02

Bill, thanks so much for your reply with lots of juicy information. I see that the original purchaser was probably making a major investment, like we'd do today for a nice car (purchased not leased) or perhaps more apropos, a really fancy home entertainment system. They must have been so proud to welcome it into their home! As I am now into mine, though I got it only for the price of moving it.

Now I'm wondering whether when purchased, there may have been a service contract with it. In your pricing info regarding the London schools, there's a service contract mentioned. Also in the 1915 Brinsmead catalogue they say that within a certain radius of London they can do servicing, and for those farther away they should "choose their tuner with the same care that they choose their piano". Is it plausible then to suppose that a piano merchant like Vickers would provide such a service, and that perhaps the tuner that left the log worked for or contracted to Vickers? I asked my tuner whether logs like that are normal, and he said not as such, although it used to be common practice for notes to be left on the keys with dates and possibly noting what work had been done. He'd not seen before a log like the one I've got that covers so many years.

You may wish to see the signature and the log... here are some pictures. In the order they should appear: Side one signature unenhanced, Side one enhanced, Side two signature unenhanced, Side two enhanced.

I'll put another post with photos of the whole log, as it doesn't seem to allow so many attachments in one.

I really appreciate your help with this!
Tamara
signature 1 original colours.jpg
signature 1 enhanced.jpg
signature II original colours.jpg
signature II bw enhanced.jpg

Tamara Petroff
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Re: Brinsmead #59734

Post by Tamara Petroff » 04 May 2017, 11:07

Supplemental information... photos of the whole log written on key 81. Side 1 top and bottom and Side 2 (which covers about half the available space.) The log spans 1907 to 1933. My earlier post shows the detail of the signatures at the top of the log on both sides. I've uploaded these in a resolution that should be sufficient to be legible, but if you want them in higher resolution please let me know.
side 1 top half.jpg
side 1 lower half.jpg
side2 all.jpg
Cheers,
Tamara

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Bill Kibby
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Re: Brinsmead #59734

Post by Bill Kibby » 04 May 2017, 11:43

It was very common practise to log tuning dates in this way, as explained on my Datemarks page
http://www.pianohistory.info/datemarks.html
but they don't usually give so many dates, so it is interesting to have the photos. I am still looking for Osborn. Lerner Street?

VICKERS (J.) BOLTON LANCASHIRE
1886 J.Vickers, 37 & 39 Higher Bridge Street, Bolton.
1894 Not listed.
1899 Not listed.
1911 Not listed.
1914 J.Vickers, 47 Knowsley Street, Bolton. - Instruments & music.
1928 My "Musique Adresses Universel" lists Vickers Pianos, Bolton.
1936 Not listed.

VICKERS (G.) BOLTON
1938 My Music Trades Directory lists G.Vickers, 18, Burlington Street, Bolton - Pianos, organs.
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