Knight piano in America

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Albert
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Knight piano in America

Post by Albert »

I inherited my father's Knight a while back and am curious as to its history. I don't have much to go on but I have seen that there are some very knowledgeable and helpful persons here that might be able to help me find out more about it.

On the inside there are two "labels", which is all I have been able to find until now. Both are inside at or near the top.

The first, topmost, reads:

Made in England

This instrument has been specially manufactured for the American climate and is fully guaranteed.

A bit lower, another label reads:

reg. design 812773
Knight
British patent 477297 496082 538671

The piano has been in my father's old music room and has not been tuned for at least 11 years ... it still seems to be in tune and I am guessing that it wasn't tuned for some time before that.

If anyone has any information on when the piano was made, what its characteristics are or anything of interest about it, I would be highly appreciative!

Thanks in advance.
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MarkGoodwinPianos
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Re: Questiong on American Knight

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos »

Hi there
Please upload some photos showing the outside and inside of the piano. This will help us provide a generally accurate assessment of the piano

cheers.
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Bill Kibby
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Knight

Post by Bill Kibby »

I suspect the only American thing about it is that label! The Briish Patent and design numbers don't help, can you find a serial number inside? Have a look at my datemarks page at pianohistory.info because the keys should be dated.
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Albert
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Re: Questiong on American Knight

Post by Albert »

Thank you very much for your help.

No pictures yet but I popped the lower panel (below keyboard) off and found the following stamped into the bronze colored metal chassis, lower right

Horizontal: K10 HD

directly below that, vertical: 23-11-64

a bit above that, stamped in the wood, 36560

If I had to guess, I would assume that the chassis was finished on or about Nov. 11th 1964 and that the piano was the 60th one made in March 1965.

There is some history to this instrument ... it was the 'retirement' piece for my father, marking the end of his career. It replaced a Chickering baby grand and I remember him remarking how happy he was with the sound. There were a few jam sessions in the 1980s that he played with some of his old pals that would have warmed the hearts of many a jazz afficianado.

Also, it seems that the good workmanship in building a piano that keeps its tuning in American climates was helped out with a tubular electric dehumidifier that was suspended in the above mentioned cavity.

Can you tell me anything from the above information?
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Bill Kibby
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American Knight

Post by Bill Kibby »

It's between 1963-7, so you probably have the date there, although I haven't seen it like that on a Knight. To be honest, I haven't needed to look, because if you disrobe the top half of the piano, and get to a point where you can see the keys all the way back, you can lift out a few at the bass end, and there is probably a date there too. I'd be interested to know what it is.
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Albert
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Re: Question on American Knight

Post by Albert »

Tnahks Bill

I will see if I can open the top half. I'm really new to this, so I didn't want to take any liberties with opening it up like that. The bottom half was so very obvious that I popped it right off. I will try and take some pics of that for you. It will be difficult to see the stamped in number but maybe it will come out.

I will be able to do this tomorrow.

Thanks again to all.

Francis
Albert
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Re: Question on American Knight

Post by Albert »

Bill

As you suggested, I took off the upper front casing cover and had a look around. I checked the bass keys and did find one marked on the outermost bass key, a handwritten inscription '922'. I then looked to the right and found what I think is the serial number, 37373. I made a series of pictures showing the piano and the areas that clearly depict the new and old (above) information with the exception of the '922', which looks clear in situ but the pics aren't as precise.

If I take the previous information and add what you supplied to this information, I come to the following conclusion ... which I hope you will critique!

As most manufacturing processes ran then and today, certain components were constructed and placed at the disposal of the assembly and testing departments. The iron frame was finished and sent to finished parts inventory on or about Nov. 11th 1964, stamped with the K10 HD insignia horizontally and a vertical date below that reading 23-11-64. The wood internal frame was finished in March 1965, the 60th of the year, and also placed in finished components inventory, as evidenced by the engraved marking in the wood, 36560, just above the metal stamped information.

Now adding the handwritten marking on the furthest left key, ‘922’, to the plot, we get the final quality control date after assembly, Sep. 22nd, most probably the same year, 1965.

The piano serial number, located on the far right, above the keys, reads 37373. Let us review information supplied by the honourable Bill Kibby in another thread I found:

“KNIGHT - dates of numbers from pianos I have tuned.
1967 #42500
1970 #47800
1971 #49400
1972 #50100
1973 #51900
1974 #54500
1975 #54700
1979 #62600

This puts yur piano #59757 around 1976, but it should be dated on the keys, so have a look at pianogen.org “

Surmising that, by serial number, production ranges varied from less than 1,000 to over 2,500 from the year to year observations above, the serial number 37373, a really nice number, clearly falls within the range of 1965, according to my deductions, Dr. Watson ... sorry for the ovedramatisation, there was a Sherlock Holmes movie running on the BBC channel we get over here :D

What is your opinion on the above assumptions?

I would be happy to send you the pics I have Bill, they are a total of 9.5 MB ... if that poses no problem, just let me know what I have to do to get them to you.

From what I have read, the mid-1960s was considered to be among the best years in quality of design, components and manufacture of these Knight pianos ... is this conjecture based on very limited knowledge on my part or is there some truth to this?

Thanks for helping me on this knowledge hunt!

Francis
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Bill Kibby
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Re: Question on American Knight

Post by Bill Kibby »

There is no reason to draw any conclusions at all about 922, and it is not usually possible to state a single date for the manufacture of a piano, because the manufacturing process can be so long. As I said, 1964 seems likely, the keys should be dated, and that is easy to check. The date on the iron frame shows when the frame was cast, but it could have been in stock for a few years before the piano was completed. Trying to decode long numbers is a blind alley, there is no reason to try to connect ordinary numbers with dates, and i don't understand what you are saying about...

"The wood internal frame was finished in March 1965, the 60th of the year, and also placed in finished components inventory, as evidenced by the engraved marking in the wood, 36560, just above the metal stamped information."
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Albert
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Re: Question on American Knight

Post by Albert »

Bill

You are right, of course, it may all be conjecture on my part, but it has become an enjoyable task to try and make some logical conclusion out of the data. As the rank amateuer, I get a prudent nudge on this one.

The final 'expert opinion' is up to yourself and others that possess a collective knowledge expressed here.

Where can I send the pictures I took, so that you can see them? I will try one here, to see if it is possible ...



If this doesn't work please let me know how I can send you the pics.

Francis
Albert
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Re: Question on American Knight

Post by Albert »

Sorry, I forgot to reply to this part of your post:

"... i don't understand what you are saying about...

"The wood internal frame was finished in March 1965, the 60th of the year, and also placed in finished components inventory, as evidenced by the engraved marking in the wood, 36560, just above the metal stamped information." "

The conclusion I jumped to was based on this. Assuming that the metal frame was made in Nov. 1964, which is pretty safe, other parts could have been crafted in following months for eventual assembley. That code, 36560, would have been put into the wood frame backing, a finished component ready for assembley, and assigned a manufacturing process tracking number 3, meaning March, 65, the year, and 60, possibly the 60th one processed in that year but, from the numbers, more likely in that month.

I used to work for a manufacturing company in the 1970s and things really hadn't changed much from the decade previously, only the record keeping and planning was a bit more automated. Components were manufactured in runs that the materials planners calculated as needed to supply the demand forecasts, ideally pushing to keep work in progress inventories (WIP) as low as possible. This was a critical business challenge in those years and made headlines when the Japanese started flouting their prowess at managing the 'supply chain', coming up with a 'zero inventory' concept.

I can say, however, that such parts as cast iron frames usually had a longer WIP storage time than softer components, such as those made of wood, and it would have been unusual even for a poorly run organization to keep costly WIP inventory items such as chassis (frames) and major wood pieces much past 6 months. They always tried to strike a balance between manufacturing efficiently and cost-consciously with the cost of keeping WIP inventory.

It all comes together if you think of a piano as something similar to a car, another serially manufactured product that, while it may contain more components, is manufactured in a similar process, right down to the final quality control check.

The 922 is really speculative on my part but when you consider the above, it isn't really all that far off in terms of reality. Of course, I might be off by a year but I think that if they built such a good piano, the reputation for innovation was strong and they were known for solid quality in that decade, the people at Knight probably would have been pretty well organized in the manufacturing process, hence the stab at the final quality control check after assembley being in Sep. of 1965, slightly under a year after the iron frame was cast and about 6 months after the wooden frame or backing (don't know the precist term) was finished.

What do you think?
Albert
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Re: Question on American Knight

Post by Albert »

And yet another point I forgot to comment on directly in your last post

"...the keys should be dated, "

Other than looking at the top of the striking are (? I really am coming up short in my ability to describe parts of the piano - I just don't have the knowlege, sorry), what do you mean by inscribed on the key?

I couldn't find specific information on the website ... if you see the picture I made, it might serve to end conjecture on my part.
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Re: Question on American Knight

Post by vernon »

the end key should be date stamped(rubber stamp)by the key makers.
Under the bass end keys there will be a paper label on which you can generally decipher the date of manufacture of the keys.
As Bill says,factories would have stocks of,key-frames and iron frames for years before the piano was assembled
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Re: Question on American Knight

Post by Johnkie »

It sounds like a typical Knight K10 (Excellent piano) - all but the fact that you say "it was made specificaly for the American Climate. It may well be what we call a "tropicalised" model - The difference being generally that the keys would be covered in one piece with little brass pins as well as the glue holding the covers in place. Also the tapes in the action would not be just glued ... they were either pinned or tied as well.
My guess is that unless these extras are seen to be present, then It's not specially for the climate ... merely "Specially" made for Export to America.
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Albert
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Re: Question on American Knight

Post by Albert »

Now I know why I couldn't find the brass end keys! Because the piano was specially made for this climate, as the label actually states. Florida is a pretty hot and humid place and I am going to guess that some of these types were exported to other parts of the world with similar climates, with slightly different labels :wink:

Thank you on that account, I hope we can get some consensus on this point.

I have pictures that show the keys and the '922' inscription on the end bass key, as described earlier ... maybe that might be helpful, I'd be happy to send them to you all if you want.

All in all, you guys have been very, very helpful. I am torn between keeping the piano but I don't play ("I don't want my son to be a musician!", he said jokingly after giving up on teaching me at age 5 ... this was one of the early father-son conflicts, almost as much a battle of wills as when he tried to force me to eat beets !

If selling it to someone is the option, it will have to be a good musician, someone who appreciates the creativity and science of this art. I grew up listening to a day per week, scales exercise that ascended to rehearsing and learning new numbers.

Thanks for enriching the memories, guys!

Francis
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Re: Question on American Knight

Post by vernon »

Alfie Knight was a consummate salesman.
I you wanted a specialised piano for Florida or Belarus he would put a special label on it for you.
Nevertheless, they were all excellent pianos in his days -that was 1950's to 60's when he was the rep who called round every shop doing deals and making plenty of sales. Anyone listening?
I think only Kawai's have proper reps nowadays who must be worth their weight in gold.
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Re: Question on American Knight

Post by Albert »

I have some pictures on a picasa link that should show enough detail for all to get a good look at the identifying numbers inside the K 10.

I hope that this really helps answer any open questions.

please try this link:
http://picasaweb.google.com/11818855192 ... _6_wsMDASA#

With the good, however, comes the uncomfortable; I have heard from my insurer that I have to place a value on the piano in order to have it fully insured at replacement cost. As we have the occasional storm where I live (Florida), severe water damage is the likeliest cause of needing to be replaced.

How would those of you with knwledge of this instrument go about estimating the value of this piano ? Local appraisers are not very conversant with Knights.

I hope you like the pics, it is a really pretty piece of work, even if I could only give it a quick onceover with some polish. The interior seems to have had great attention paid to detail and shows good workmanship.

Francis
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Bill Kibby
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Re: Question on American Knight

Post by Bill Kibby »

The serial number is definitely 37373. K10 is the model. It really is a simple task to look for a date on the keys if you haven't done so already, have a look at my Datemarks page at pianogen.org

Valuation is a matter that carries heavy legal implications, and there is an official body in the States that deals with it, for pianos or anything else. Your insurers should be able to point you to a valuer.
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Re: Question on American Knight

Post by Albert »

Hi Bill

Thank you for the quick response. I checked your very informative site and have looked at the other keys. It seems that the only mark I could find is that on the last bass key, in pic 4. To me, it appears to be 922, albeit penned very eloquently ... looks clearer in close than in the pic and, unless the 2s are Qs, it seems to point towards a 3 digit notation, which is why I guessed it to be Sep. 22nd, 1965, taking the year after the casting stamp date of late 1964.

No tuners' marks on other keys, as I could see. My father did his own tuning and the piano keeps its word as being an instrument that holds its tune well. Sort of like the old claims for the VW Beetle.

The iron frame mark seems to be very clear, as is the soundboard (?) in pic 3.

The insides of the piano seems to be in the same shape everywhere that is shown in the closeup pics. The keyboard, exterior and brass fittings are also in very good shape, showing little or no signs of usage or abuse. The pedals are still covered to keep off shoe sctatches (my Dad was like that).

Your advice of seeking an appraiser is well heeded. We are in the process of finding an estate appraiser to look at the piano. I think that will suffice, as this is not a rare piano, per se. I do want to add that there are not very many Knights for sale in stores and the knowledge of the appraisers will be limited in that respect.

How does this era Knight rank vs the globally more well known pianos, in terms of the same quality of sound and workmanship, if one could make such a comparison?

Thanks very much for all the help.

Francis
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Re: Question on American Knight

Post by eddieh »

I have a Knight piano with these same reg. design and Patent numbers. My serial number is 29773. What I can't see mentioned here is that the piano is unusual. Mine certainly is:
My piano is small, having 64 keys only. The top half of the hammers are just above key height, with the dampers and the rest of the action being below key height.
Overall dimensions; Height 930mm, width 1130mm, depth 530mm plus another 30mm for two rear castors. Superbly made and very heavy given its size. I've never heard of or seen another Knight piano such as mine, but I suspect the American one described is the same.
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Knight piano in America

Post by Bill Kibby »

Knight pianos are NOT American! The serial number 29773 suggests that it was made in 1960.
I can't remember seeing a 5-octave (and a bit!) Knight, but I will see what I can find out. What are the names of the top and bottom notes?
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Re: Knight piano in America

Post by eddieh »

Yes indeed, Knight pianos are of course not American, but I believe the company did export parts for assembly overseas. The bottom note is an A, I'll call that A0. We then progress to the top note C6. By chance I have just found an identical piano to mine on the internet, listed for sale by Brittens and described as a "Knight Ship's Piano". I believe the piano is described as a Spinet style in America. There was an Aeolian Melodiform piano made in America, similarly having 64 notes. I wonder how many models such as mine Knight produced? Thank you for your response. Best wishes, Eddie.
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Re: Knight piano in America

Post by eddieh »

I have used the wrong name "melodiform". It should be "melodigrand" short keyboard 64 note piano. These are similar to the Knight piano I own. I also should make clear I am not in the USA, my home is New Zealand. Thank you, Eddie.(ex Manchester lad)
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