Streamlined Pianos
1910 – 1928

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With the expansion of the middle class, the amount of people wanting pianos at a decent price sky-rocketed. This demand caused the piano manufacturers to move towards modernization, simplifying the time-consuming details of the piano’s body. Removing the ornate carvings allowed them to produce fine instruments at a faster rate, and also make a profit. As 1910 drew to a close, piano sales were over 300,000 units for the year.

19 Streamlined Pianos

These streamline plain piano cases are recognized by flat front boards where the grain of the wood is allowed to carry the design unimpeded. In the early years of this age the pianos had a rectangular applied molding on the front-board. Choice woods were becoming scarce. The piano veneer species of mahogany was now predominantly Honduran, with a straight grained pattern. The other species of woods were also no longer heavily figured. The legs were usually square sided with a slight and graceful tapering at the base.

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The outbreak of World War I in August of 1914 initially reinforced isolationist tendencies in the U.S. and had little perceptible effect on music industry sales. When Germany began unrestricted submarine attacks on U.S. ships and approached Mexico about a potential alliance, President Wilson declared war on Germany in April 1917. The first U.S. troops landed in France in June 1917, and the American economy shifted into wartime mode.

The first noticeable effect of the war was a pronounced coal shortage. Virtually all industrial equipment of the day was driven by coal-fired steam boilers. All non-military factory production was curtailed. Piano factories were particularly hard hit. One ton of coal was required to produce a single piano! By the end of 1917 it is estimated that the nation’s piano factories were operating at half capacity. World War I finally drew to a close in November of 1918. As coal and other materials once again began to be plentiful, instrument production expanded and sales exploded, making 1919 the biggest year in music industry history.

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