Johann Kuhse, Dresden

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UglyJoe
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Johann Kuhse, Dresden

Post by UglyJoe » 28 Nov 2010, 14:13

Hello.
I'm trying to find some info about the approximate production date of a Kuhse piano that's been in possesion of my family since circa 1945, when my grandgrandparents were given an apartment that used to belong to a German family before the WW2. The serial number is probably 21233 (I'm not completely sure, because I don't know where to look for it, I only found that number written with a pencil on the back of the lid that hides the pedal mechanism).
It's extremely hard to find any info about these piano's, but maybe you can tell me something about it?
UJ

EDIT: Found the correct serial number inside the top - 20710.

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Re: Johann Kuhse, Dresden

Post by Colin Nicholson » 28 Nov 2010, 18:52

I believe Kuhse pianos were dated in the late 1800's (c.1875) and stopped production around 1885, only surviving for about 10 years. Your piano may be very old, and the number you give 20710 (and 21233) do not match as serial numbers. I think you have seen the cabinet number, stamped on the top edge of the casing, facing the ceiling?

Many old pianos did not have serial numbers, but if yours does have one, it will be near the tuning pins, and the numbers facing you - so you need to open the top lid, close the fallboard (lid that covers the keys), then completely remove the front panel above (where the music rests against). It will be a four-digit number prior to 1883, and after that date, possibly starting 12XXX.

If the number is not in full view near the tunings, then try behind the strings at each side - sometimes stamped or stenciled onto the soundboard.
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Re: Johann Kuhse, Dresden

Post by Bill Kibby » 28 Nov 2010, 20:25

The best estimate I can offer for that number is about 1912, but they may have gone out of business by 1911, when Alfred Dolge "Pianos and their makers" did not list Kuhse.
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Re: Johann Kuhse, Dresden

Post by UglyJoe » 28 Nov 2010, 20:35

Colin Nicholson wrote:I think you have seen the cabinet number, stamped on the top edge of the casing, facing the ceiling?
That's right, #20710 is stamped on the top left edge of the casing. The other one was written with a pencil, probably by the last person that tuned the piano.
Colin Nicholson wrote:it will be near the tuning pins, and the numbers facing you - so you need to open the top lid, close the fallboard (lid that covers the keys), then completely remove the front panel above (where the music rests against). It will be a four-digit number prior to 1883, and after that date, possibly starting 12XXX.
Ok, I'll look for it during the next tuning - I don't want to disassemble the entire piano myself just to find that number. It's too old and might not survive that. ;)
Bill Kibby wrote:The best estimate I can offer for that number is about 1912, but they may have gone out of business by 1911, when Alfred Dolge "Pianos and their makers" did not list Kuhse.
Hm, I guess I need to look for the number mentioned by Colin Nicholson - there's quite a big difference between ca. 1885 and 1912 - I'll let you know as soon as I find it. :)

Thank you very much for your answers! :)

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Re: Johann Kuhse, Dresden

Post by Bill Kibby » 28 Nov 2010, 20:49

They didn't stop production in 1885, that is just the latest published date of a number. There are pianos around from about 1910-1915, but no definite dates so far. They do not appear in our Dresden list for 1928, and may well have been one of the many casualties of the 1914 war. If you know how to remove the action safely (the working parts of the notes) it may be marked with the action makers' name and number, and I may be able to date this.
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Re: Johann Kuhse, Dresden

Post by UglyJoe » 28 Nov 2010, 20:56

I took another look and found a big "5E" tag on the metal frame just above the pedal mechanism (I don't know what's the proper English name for this element, because English is not my main language ;) ).
Bill Kibby wrote:They didn't stop production in 1885, that is just the latest published date of a number. There are pianos around from about 1910-1915, but no definite dates so far
You might be right, but the design also suggests late 19th century rather than early 20th. :) I can take some photos of it if you want, maybe that would be more helpful.
Bill Kibby wrote:If you know how to remove the action safely (the working parts of the notes) it may be marked with the action makers' name and number, and I may be able to date this.
I'm worried that I might break something, but I know who tuned this piano last time and I think he would be able to help me. :)
Last edited by UglyJoe on 28 Nov 2010, 21:23, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Johann Kuhse, Dresden

Post by Bill Kibby » 28 Nov 2010, 21:05

Most people have trouble posting photos here, but you can email them to me.
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Re: Johann Kuhse, Dresden

Post by UglyJoe » 28 Nov 2010, 21:14

Bill Kibby wrote:Most people have trouble posting photos here, but you can email them to me.
Ok, I'll send you the photos tomorrow - I need to tidy the piano a bit and it's already quite late - I don't want to disturb my neighbours. ;)
Thank you for your help! :)
UJ

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Re: Johann Kuhse, Dresden

Post by Colin Nicholson » 28 Nov 2010, 21:36

There is a small visual test you can do if you dont feel like removing the front panel - this can determine if the piano is over-damped or under-damped. Most pianos pre 1900 were over-damped, so here goes!.....

Open the top lid and look inside the top.
Do you see a wooden rail/plinth running along the inside?

Now play any note, say Middle C, and look inside at the same time.
As you press the key slowly & hold it down (slow motion), does the following happen?

1. A small square piece of felt (damper) lifts off the string and comes towards you & tilts downwards?

OR:
2. The hammer (longer piece of felt) moves away from you, and hits the strings - travelling about 4-5cm?

Yes, the numbers are definitely not the serial number, and '5E' maybe a part/stock number for the cast iron frame - who knows!!
The front panel is easy to remove - look inside, next to the cabinet number (left side) - you will see a wooden elongated turnbuckle - probably facing about 9 or 10 o'clock. Turn it to the right - to 12 o'clock - and do the same with the other side, turn the wooden turnbuckle to the left - to 12 o'clock, this then releases the front panel. Sometimes they are metal hooks, but on most German pianos, these turnbuckles lock behind a wooden tab - then just tilt the front panel towards you slightly, and lift it away - dead easy! Just be careful as you tilt the panel forward, sometimes if the wooden turnbuckles (pegs) are loose, they have a mind of their own, and can inadvertantly swing back to the locking position! - if they do, just hold each turnbuckle in the 12 o'clock position with your fingers, then tilt it forward. Just take care if you decide to remove the mechanism - it might be like removing a cuckoo clock mechanism!! - lots of wires - if so, let a piano tuner remove it for you.

Hope that helps....
Last edited by Colin Nicholson on 28 Nov 2010, 21:50, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Johann Kuhse, Dresden

Post by Bill Kibby » 28 Nov 2010, 21:44

Whereas some underdampers were in use by the 1840s, some overdampers were still made in the 1950s.
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Re: Johann Kuhse, Dresden

Post by UglyJoe » 28 Nov 2010, 21:55

Well, I hope this photo can help: click

Sorry for the quality, but I used a cellphone. :) I'm quite sure that's the 2nd type, though.

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Re: Johann Kuhse, Dresden

Post by Bill Kibby » 29 Nov 2010, 00:10

The soft felt dampers that stop the strings are located under the hard felt hammers that strike the strings, so it is "underdamper". The strings appear to be in roughly parallel vertical lines, so it is probably "vertical-strung".
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Re: Johann Kuhse, Dresden

Post by UglyJoe » 29 Nov 2010, 17:32

Yes, the numbers are definitely not the serial number, and '5E' maybe a part/stock number for the cast iron frame - who knows!!
The front panel is easy to remove - look inside, next to the cabinet number (left side) - you will see a wooden elongated turnbuckle - probably facing about 9 or 10 o'clock. Turn it to the right - to 12 o'clock - and do the same with the other side, turn the wooden turnbuckle to the left - to 12 o'clock, this then releases the front panel. Sometimes they are metal hooks, but on most German pianos, these turnbuckles lock behind a wooden tab - then just tilt the front panel towards you slightly, and lift it away - dead easy! Just be careful as you tilt the panel forward, sometimes if the wooden turnbuckles (pegs) are loose, they have a mind of their own, and can inadvertantly swing back to the locking position! - if they do, just hold each turnbuckle in the 12 o'clock position with your fingers, then tilt it forward. Just take care if you decide to remove the mechanism - it might be like removing a cuckoo clock mechanism!! - lots of wires - if so, let a piano tuner remove it for you.

Hope that helps....
Sure, that helped a lot. I removed the front panel (it was held by 2 small, metal bolts instead of wooden turnbuckles). I couldn't find the serial number anywhere, though.
The soft felt dampers that stop the strings are located under the hard felt hammers that strike the strings, so it is "underdamper". The strings appear to be in roughly parallel vertical lines, so it is probably "vertical-strung".
At first I didn't know what "underdamper" and "overdamper" meant (language barrier :? ), but I understand now, thank you. :)

Here are the photos that I promised to take (I apologize for the massive amounts of dust):

Photo #1
Photo #2
Photo #3
Photo #4
Photo #5
Photo #6
Photo #7
Photo #8
Photo #9
Photo #10
Last edited by UglyJoe on 30 Nov 2010, 15:35, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Johann Kuhse, Dresden

Post by Colin Nicholson » 30 Nov 2010, 09:53

Maybe a little earlier than 1900 as the cheeks are very square-looking, but possibly about there.
Wood veneer could be mahogany, but very faded & difficult to see properly.
Some ivories chipped also & you may be missing an action bolt?

Too many photos of the same thing really!! - gave up after 12th photo.
Did you see the serial number? - have a look behind bass strings, and lift off the fallboard.
Seen hundreds of piano actions like this.
The 'V' may be a model number of the period, and the 5E is not a tag,its just raised iron lettering with the stock number for the cast frame - means nothing.

If you lift away the lid that covers the keys, there may be some dates pencilled on the keys - will not tell you the year of piano, but when activity tuning it - have a look......
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Re: Johann Kuhse, Dresden

Post by Bill Kibby » 30 Nov 2010, 12:41

Yes, it's a struggle going through all those photos. The design is a bit like the arts & crafts models of a century ago, yet it has something of a twenties look about it. It was quite usual then to use various different types of wood, then polish it very dark to make them all look simiar. The variations in colour suggest that it was been stripped and polished or varnished to a lighter colour, to make it look more modern.
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Re: Johann Kuhse, Dresden

Post by UglyJoe » 30 Nov 2010, 18:21

Too many photos of the same thing really!! - gave up after 12th photo.
Oops, sorry about that. ;) I've deleted most of them and left only 10 in my previous post - I think it's OK now.
Did you see the serial number? - have a look behind bass strings, and lift off the fallboard.
I've found a 4 digit number today after lifting off the fallboard, but I'm not sure if that's the serial number: 0585.

Also, most of the wooden parts is signed with the number I mentioned before - "21223" - and a popular German surname - "Uhlig".

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Re: Johann Kuhse, Dresden

Post by Colin Nicholson » 01 Dec 2010, 02:16

Whereabouts did you find this number? - serial numbers don't usually start with a zero. If so, it would just be 585. There is no guarantee this is the serial number unless we can see it. Imagine trying to date a piece of silver or gold? the expert needs to see all the markings, and then eliminate those not important. It is usually the case that the novice will try and overwhelm the expert with allsorts of numbers, in an attempt to 'hit on lucky' its the right numbers - please look where I mentioned, the number will be facing you - in black lettering, about 2cm in height, or to the side, but not looking up to the ceiling!

Remember that just by finding a number, or series of numbers doesn't mean that its the serial number - was the number stamped on the top of one of the keys? - if so, not a serial number.
The serial number will be where I mentioned earlier - behind the bass strings, on the soundboard, or behind the treble strings - its not near the tuning pins according to your photos.
Do you know where the soundboard is, and what it looks like?
Photo please of this number & any other numbers you find.
Cheers.....
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Re: Johann Kuhse, Dresden

Post by Bill Kibby » 01 Dec 2010, 20:39

The position of the number 20710 on the top edge of the end is typical of many upright piano serial numbers, but there seems little point in worrying about the number when we can't date it anyway. Any clues will be hidden inside, so have a look at my Datemarks page at pianogen.org
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Re: Johann Kuhse, Dresden

Post by Juliette » 06 Jan 2020, 10:51

Hello,
I reply to this post a few years later, I hope somebody will see it.
I live in France and have a Johann Kuhse piano at home since my childhood. I don't play anymore since then and would like to sell it.
I went to a store but they told me it's too old, people won't want it anymore, and that I've to put it at waste collection. It's so sad...
Do you know if there is a market on this kind of pianos ?
The problem is also it has not been tuned for years. It costs a hundred euros to tune it so I don't want to do it if its only future is in a trash.
Thanks for your reply

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Re: Johann Kuhse, Dresden

Post by Bill Kibby » 06 Jan 2020, 18:54

It's not really about how old it is, it's what state it's in. Nobody anywhere can guess the value or condition of a piano without inspecting it on the spot, and checking how well it holds in tune, so your local tuner is the best person to ask.
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Re: Johann Kuhse, Dresden

Post by Shaneo » 27 Feb 2020, 00:28

Hello,
I've just acquired a Kuhse Pianoforte for my son but it's missing a hammer (? Excuse my ignorance, I don't know anything about pianos).
Is there a way of getting parts for these? It's also missing the white part of one of the white keys and the two highest notes are stuck.
I think the serial number is 8199. It's the only number visible when the top is open - apart from the patent.
I'd appreciate any help or advice.
Thanks
Shane

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Re: Johann Kuhse, Dresden

Post by Bill Kibby » 27 Feb 2020, 12:33

You would have to get a tuner-technician to do these jobs, where in the world are you?
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