Ask questions on piano history and the age of your piano.
Moderators: Feg, Gill the Piano, Bill Kibby
Hi - I recently bought an old (c. 1890) Steinway Model B. It’s an 85 note and the serial number on the frame (78520) is consistent with the age. However it has been “modernised” with straight legs, lyre and flat, plain music desk. However, I was surprised to see that these parts also had the same serial number as the frame punched into them. Was this standard practice when parts were replaced? I can’t think these would have been original as all the pianos I’ve seen from this period had fretted desks and elephant/turned legs? Thanks for your help
- Posts: 5412
- Joined: 04 Jun 2003, 19:25
- Location: East Anglia UK
I wouldn't say it was normal practice, and many pianos are modernised with no thought for history, but it seems likely that whoever did the job bought a set of number punches and made it more authentic... Or were they being devious and trying to make it seem original? I would have thought that the last 3 digit was more common, but I don't know about Steinways in particular.
I will do some more research and look for possible originals with straight legs and straight lyre.
Thanks Bill. My “gut feel” tells me that it wasn’t done to conceal things (just because there are also some authentic looking chalk markings with the serial number written on etc. and -bizarrely- one of the leg numbers is actually different (but close”ish”) to the others. I’m guessing the “modernisation” was probably done quite some time back. One idea which occurred was if Steinway has been responsible for a restoration at some time, whether they would have “reissued” newer style legs and taken back the old ones. But then that wouldn’t explain why one leg had a slightly different number, would it? All very strange!
Actually, having posted the photos, it occurs there’s a simpler explanation- when the legs were modernised, the part at the top which joins to the case was kept and the leg coming down was changed? Similarly with the music desk, the hinged section only was changed. That could explain why the old serial numbers were still there as these parts were kept?