Vintage Upright Pianos
1906 – 1909
A large influx of immigrants swelled the U.S. population from 62 million in 1900 to 94 million in 1909 . During that time frame, increases in industrial productivity led to higher wages for laborers and also clerical workers. This segment of comfortable, but not rich, citizens were coined “middle class” by journalists of the time. With new-found prosperity this burgeoning middle class was enamored with the dream of a refined life – having a piano in the parlor, a stove in the kitchen, and a chicken roasting merrily for the family.
Pulling away from the dripping ornamentation of the Victorian Era, Vintage pianos were produced in the true mechanized factory setting. Vintage pianos are still embellished, but are not as lavish. Simplified, but still present, the decorative details consist of fewer if any hand carvings, larger applied moldings and less intricate turnings of the legs.
The year 1900 ushered in a new case style with a true music shelf. Gone were the tiny shelves that would hold sparse music. The cases were doubly (cross band) veneered with a five-ply laminate to prevent checking and warping. The main veneers selected were Circassian Walnut, French Burl Walnut, Figured Dark West Indian, San Domingo or Cuban Mahogany and Quartered Oak. The finishing techniques were superlative. The last coat was hand-rubbed and finally hand-polished.
At the turn of the century great attention was paid to tone, construction and durability. The inner mechanisms and exterior cases from this period offer the best of both worlds; true craftsmanship with the advantage of the Industrial Revolution.