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#1466124 - 07/01/10 02:32 AM Manufacture Date - Chickering Baby Grand (circa 1833)  
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Hello Fellow Technicians -

I am new to the field & have a question about finding out the manufacture date of a piano I own. I do in fact have a copy of Pierce Piano Atlas - FYI.

I own a Chickering baby grand built in Boston, Massachusetts. The serial # is 1742.

Pierce Piano Atlas says that is was made between 1830 & 1835. Becuase the Boston factory burned down, I suppose I would have to find a way to get a hold of a representative from either Wurlitzer or Baldwin (former owners of the Chickering name) & ask them if they could give me a more exact manufacture date - at least an exact year or month. Do you know of any other resources that I could take advantage of in order to find out this information?

Thanks in advance,
Nathan


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#1466133 - 07/01/10 02:50 AM Re: Manufacture Date - Chickering Baby Grand (circa 1833) [Re: Nate Smith]  
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Originally Posted by nateplayspiano
Hello Fellow Technicians -

I am new to the field & have a question about finding out the manufacture date of a piano I own. I do in fact have a copy of Pierce Piano Atlas - FYI.

I own a Chickering baby grand built in Boston, Massachusetts. The serial # is 1742.

Pierce Piano Atlas says that is was made between 1830 & 1835. Becuase the Boston factory burned down, I suppose I would have to find a way to get a hold of a representative from either Wurlitzer or Baldwin (former owners of the Chickering name) & ask them if they could give me a more exact manufacture date - at least an exact year or month. Do you know of any other resources that I could take advantage of in order to find out this information?

Thanks in advance,
Nathan


I've been told by a technician in my area to look carefully at the first few (1-4) keys on the lower end of the piano, taking out these keys to thoroughly inspect them. There could be writing on the sides or bottoms of these keys, I was told, done by the factory workers.


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#1466136 - 07/01/10 02:54 AM Re: Manufacture Date - Chickering Baby Grand (circa 1833) [Re: Nate Smith]  
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I suspect that the number you are looking at is not a serial number. Some indications of the age would be whether it has a cast plate or if it is made of bars and plates fastened together. Is it cross-strung, i.e., do the bass strings cross over the tenor strings? If it has a cast plate, it is not that old. If it is cross-strung, it is even newer. It should be at least 6 feet long, hardly a "baby" grand, to be that age. If it has 85 or more keys, it is newer.

The very early records of Chickering are gone, and the later ones may be in a museum in Rochester, but they would not be at Baldwin.


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#1466144 - 07/01/10 03:10 AM Re: Manufacture Date - Chickering Baby Grand (circa 1833) [Re: BDB]  
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Originally Posted by BDB
I suspect that the number you are looking at is not a serial number. Some indications of the age would be whether it has a cast plate or if it is made of bars and plates fastened together. Is it cross-strung, i.e., do the bass strings cross over the tenor strings? If it has a cast plate, it is not that old. If it is cross-strung, it is even newer. It should be at least 6 feet long, hardly a "baby" grand, to be that age. If it has 85 or more keys, it is newer.

The very early records of Chickering are gone, and the later ones may be in a museum in Rochester, but they would not be at Baldwin.


BDB -

I'm almost 100% that the number I'm looking at is the serial. What other number could the number I'm seeing be, other than a part number? The bass strings do cross the treble very slightly, but the piano is under 6 feet long (5' 3") & the plate says international pitch 435. It has Victorian-Style features as well - very decorative legs, etc.


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#1466153 - 07/01/10 04:15 AM Re: Manufacture Date - Chickering Baby Grand (circa 1833) [Re: Nate Smith]  
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It is probably a case number. The piano is definitely not from the 1830s. It is probably 50 years or more later.


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#1466355 - 07/01/10 12:35 PM Re: Manufacture Date - Chickering Baby Grand (circa 1833) [Re: BDB]  
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a picture or two would be most helpful.


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#1466380 - 07/01/10 01:20 PM Re: Manufacture Date - Chickering Baby Grand (circa 1833) [Re: Dale Fox]  
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The Smithsonian in DC has much of the actual original manufacturer records from Chickering.

I wonder if those records have been digitized?

It might be worth a call to them



"It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."
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#1466754 - 07/01/10 11:56 PM Re: Manufacture Date - Chickering Baby Grand (circa 1833) [Re: Nate Smith]  
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Originally Posted by nateplayspiano
I'm almost 100% that the number I'm looking at is the serial. What other number could the number I'm seeing be, other than a part number? The bass strings do cross the treble very slightly, but the piano is under 6 feet long (5' 3") & the plate says international pitch 435. It has Victorian-Style features as well - very decorative legs, etc.

A Chickering grand of that era would have been a square.

ddf


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#1466784 - 07/02/10 01:41 AM Re: Manufacture Date - Chickering Baby Grand (circa 1833) [Re: Del]  
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That is confirmed in a history of the company available here. The first grand dates from about 1844.


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#1466952 - 07/02/10 10:29 AM Re: Manufacture Date - Chickering Baby Grand (circa 1833) [Re: BDB]  
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Internatioanl pitch A 435 is seen in the 1885 - 1915 period, give or take. At 5'3" I would suspect about 1910 or so and probably a model 122.

Steve

#1467249 - 07/02/10 09:50 PM Re: Manufacture Date - Chickering Baby Grand (circa 1833) [Re: Steve Jackson]  
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Originally Posted by Steve Jackson


Internatioanl pitch A 435 is seen in the 1885 - 1915 period, give or take. At 5'3" I would suspect about 1910 or so and probably a model 122.

Steve


Steve -

The piano plate also says scale 121. The stringing scale, I suppose.

Thanks for all the responses!

Nathan

Last edited by nateplayspiano; 07/02/10 09:50 PM.

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#1467250 - 07/02/10 09:51 PM Re: Manufacture Date - Chickering Baby Grand (circa 1833) [Re: Nate Smith]  
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I'll add some photos this evening.

Nathan


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#1467252 - 07/02/10 09:54 PM Re: Manufacture Date - Chickering Baby Grand (circa 1833) [Re: Nate Smith]  
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I will post pictures of mine later, but mine looks almost identical to this one:

http://0.tqn.com/w/experts/Antique-Pianos-3969/2009/11/Chickering-Quarter-Grand.jpg

Nathan


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#1467272 - 07/02/10 10:41 PM Re: Manufacture Date - Chickering Baby Grand (circa 1833) [Re: Nate Smith]  
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I'm going by memory here but the serial number of this piano is not going to be a four-digit number. It will be somewhere in the low 100,000 range.

ddf


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#1467277 - 07/02/10 10:51 PM Re: Manufacture Date - Chickering Baby Grand (circa 1833) [Re: Del]  
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Originally Posted by Del
I'm going by memory here but the serial number of this piano is not going to be a four-digit number. It will be somewhere in the low 100,000 range.

ddf


DDF -

Where on the piano can I find the serial? Thanks.

Nathan


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#1467283 - 07/02/10 10:58 PM Re: Manufacture Date - Chickering Baby Grand (circa 1833) [Re: Nate Smith]  
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Okay -

Thanks for your patience. Here are the photographs.

http://img824.imageshack.us/i/chickering.jpg/

http://img228.imageshack.us/i/06082010510.jpg/

http://img821.imageshack.us/i/06082010500.jpg/

If this is not the serial, then where should I look for the serial?


Nathan


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#1467351 - 07/03/10 01:03 AM Re: Manufacture Date - Chickering Baby Grand (circa 1833) [Re: Nate Smith]  
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Chickering Quarter Grands were made from about 1890 to about the time of WWI, as far as I know. That looks about right for this piano. Sorry, but it is no great rarity. There are lots of them around.

Serial numbers were in a variety of places, but often on the bar that is to the right of the bass strings.


Semipro Tech
#1467543 - 07/03/10 11:47 AM Re: Manufacture Date - Chickering Baby Grand (circa 1833) [Re: BDB]  
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I didn't think it was a rarity, necessarily. I was just trying to figure out how to get an exact date on it. Anyone else have any suggestions? I'm not finding a number on the bass bar.

Nathan


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#1467566 - 07/03/10 12:20 PM Re: Manufacture Date - Chickering Baby Grand (circa 1833) [Re: Nate Smith]  
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If the piano was "rebuilt" at some time in the past you may never find a valid serial number. If the plate was refinished—or even cleaned and scrubbed thoroughly—the original number may have been permanently obliterated. Not all rebuilders replace the SN in the original location; or replace it at all.

Some will stamp it in an out of the way, but still visible, place on the soundboard. I’ve seen it stamped on the face of the bellyrail. Occasionally it will be stamped on the front edge of the keyframe frontrail. Check the inside of the inner rim below the pinblock (you may have to have the action out of the piano for this). Another common location is the front edge of the hammershank action rail.

You can also look underneath the keybed. Or along the back edge of the keybed. Sometimes folks get truly creative when it comes to hiding the SN of a piano.

It is also possible that, like your technician suggested, you might find either a SN or, possibly, a manufacture date on the keys or keyframe.

Sometimes you have to be something of a detective. And, sometimes, just like the real-world detective, you may never solve the case.

ddf


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#1467573 - 07/03/10 12:29 PM Re: Manufacture Date - Chickering Baby Grand (circa 1833) [Re: Del]  
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There may be a date under the hammer rail. You would not be able to see it without disassembling the action.


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#1467628 - 07/03/10 02:07 PM Re: Manufacture Date - Chickering Baby Grand (circa 1833) [Re: BDB]  
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Two years back I restored a Chickering grand, scale number 123 a 6’6” model from 1907. Same leg style and cabinet style you have there which does not help with the dating much. But that was the leg style for that era; I have seen a few Chickerings from the same 10 year period with that leg……

You can go to my web site under my name and see the photos of that Chickering under the key “photo galleries”.

Del’s memory is pretty good. The serial for that one is 109781.


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#1467730 - 07/03/10 06:36 PM Re: Manufacture Date - Chickering Baby Grand (circa 1833) [Re: Silverwood Pianos]  
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I want to thank all of you who are contributing to this thread. I'm posting some more photographs now. I took a picture every time I found a number. My comments are next to each link.

Nathan

http://img444.imageshack.us/i/01plate.jpg/ (top of the plate)

http://img38.imageshack.us/i/02hammerrail.jpg/ (front of hammer rail)

http://img101.imageshack.us/i/03key1.jpg/ (key 1, showing same 1742 number as plate)

http://img695.imageshack.us/i/04key2.jpg/ (key 3, showing faint number similar to later # I found)

http://img63.imageshack.us/i/05key2pic2.jpg/ (key 3, again)

http://img714.imageshack.us/i/06key3pic2.jpg/ (key 4, showing date "3-16-49")

http://img38.imageshack.us/i/07key3.jpg/ (key 4, again)

http://img809.imageshack.us/i/09keybed.jpg/ (key bed, showing 17_ _ number with inverted last two digits from plate)

http://img197.imageshack.us/i/099key4.jpg/ (key 6, showing similar-looking # to key 3's faint #)


Thanks for looking, everyone. I hope someone is able to give me some more clues on where to look for a serial number.

Slideshow Here: http://img444.imageshack.us/slideshow/webplayer.php?id=01plate.jpg


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#1467742 - 07/03/10 07:03 PM Re: Manufacture Date - Chickering Baby Grand (circa 1833) [Re: Nate Smith]  
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#1467752 - 07/03/10 07:37 PM Re: Manufacture Date - Chickering Baby Grand (circa 1833) [Re: Nate Smith]  
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Hi Nathan,

The four digit number was almost certainly an internal number used at the factory to keep track of all of the parts for that particular piano. As was alluded earlier, that serial would be a six digit number. I have a 1925 5'4" Chickering Ampico reproducing piano, and its serial is 140103. On mine, the serial number is stamped in the wood at the front of the key bed, under where the key slip is installed.


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#1467755 - 07/03/10 07:51 PM Re: Manufacture Date - Chickering Baby Grand (circa 1833) [Re: OperaTenor]  
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Thanks for the response, OperaTenor. If you looked at my images, you saw that I took a picture of a number that was stamped or embossed into the wood of the key bed under where the action would slide in and rest.

The # stamped there is 1724, the last two digits being the retrograde of every other instance of the number 1742 that I found about 6 times elsewhere on the piano.

Nathan


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#1467843 - 07/03/10 11:39 PM Re: Manufacture Date - Chickering Baby Grand (circa 1833) [Re: Nate Smith]  
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The "1724" in your photo is in the key bed itself. On mine, the serial number is stamped in the finished portion in front of that, where the key slip is mounted on the front of the key bed.



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#1467857 - 07/03/10 11:54 PM Re: Manufacture Date - Chickering Baby Grand (circa 1833) [Re: OperaTenor]  
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Just to confirm an earlier comment, the Smithsonian does indeed hold the records of the Chickering piano company. Once you know the serial number, you can look on microfilm (which they have reams of) to find out what year the piano was sold, and to whom (dealer or private individual). I was there doing research on the pianist George Copeland, who was a Chickering artist for several years. Unfortunately, Chickering didn't save any of their artist records, but there was a copy of a long-winded speech on the occasion of Chickering's 100th anniversary given by a former governor of Massachusetts, one Calvin Coolidge...

#1467861 - 07/04/10 12:07 AM Re: Manufacture Date - Chickering Baby Grand (circa 1833) [Re: PianoDude2010]  
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Originally Posted by PianoDude2010
Just to confirm an earlier comment, the Smithsonian does indeed hold the records of the Chickering piano company. Once you know the serial number, you can look on microfilm (which they have reams of) to find out what year the piano was sold, and to whom (dealer or private individual). I was there doing research on the pianist George Copeland, who was a Chickering artist for several years. Unfortunately, Chickering didn't save any of their artist records, but there was a copy of a long-winded speech on the occasion of Chickering's 100th anniversary given by a former governor of Massachusetts, one Calvin Coolidge...


WOW! I'm going to have to look into this. Thanks, PianoDude2010.


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#1468655 - 07/05/10 02:21 PM Re: Manufacture Date - Chickering Baby Grand (circa 1833) [Re: Nate Smith]  
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I guess this post is dead now. Thanks for everyone's help.

Nathan


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#1469134 - 07/06/10 09:24 AM Re: Manufacture Date - Chickering Baby Grand (circa 1833) [Re: Nate Smith]  
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Piano Blue Book

I have just been a recipient of a Chickering Grand piano..and I was doing some research and found the above site, where you could find out approximately when your Chickering was born.

It states however, that the serial number 100 was made in 1823 and then it jumps to 10,000 in 1850, so your piano was made during that quarter century. Please let me know if you find some other site with more detailed information!

Nancy


Piano Obsession Log:
Began Piano 12/25/09 on Yamaha starter digital keyboard
Playing on circa 1917/18 Chickering Grand Piano since July 2010
Finished Alfred Book 1-August 2010
Started Book 2--August 11, 2010
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