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#278919 - 10/19/08 03:59 PM Very strange piano made by Chickering & Sons.  
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Avantgardenabi Offline
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I was wondering if anyone is familiar with this style of old piano made by Chickering & Sons. confused

This piano's ebay listing had ended, but there are two other Chickering piano listings that feature similar-looking pianos.

Please take a look:

[Linked Image] [Linked Image] [Linked Image] [Linked Image] [Linked Image] [Linked Image]

To me, they are quite "ugly," but very intriguing at the same time. Why would Chickering build such an unconventional instrument?

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#278920 - 10/19/08 04:04 PM Re: Very strange piano made by Chickering & Sons.  
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sotto voce Offline
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Yipes, what is that? I've never seen, or heard of, anything like it.

I've never even seen pedals like those before!

Steven

p.s. The bizarre orientation of the third picture reminded me of my grandmother, who grew up in late-Victorian England and was taught to play piano with the bench pulled away at a 45-degree angle. I would be tempted to do that with a piano like this so as to at least remain perpendicular to the tail!

#278921 - 10/19/08 04:07 PM Re: Very strange piano made by Chickering & Sons.  
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Avantgardenabi Offline
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I thought respectable Chickering made beautiful pianos like this one, Liszt's own piano:

[Linked Image]

(By J.P. Dalbera)

#278922 - 10/19/08 04:11 PM Re: Very strange piano made by Chickering & Sons.  
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[Linked Image]


[Linked Image]


This gives a whole new meaning to Victor Borge's joke about opera singers:

"Isn't it a shame those big, fat opera singers always have to lean on the pianos and bend them?"


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#278923 - 10/19/08 04:11 PM Re: Very strange piano made by Chickering & Sons.  
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Very! Very! interesting,I think confused


Proud owner of a Rebuilt 1912 Feurich concert grand with the new Phoenix system.
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#278924 - 10/19/08 04:13 PM Re: Very strange piano made by Chickering & Sons.  
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Interesting, its also got plain wire bichords.


Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.
#278925 - 10/19/08 04:15 PM Re: Very strange piano made by Chickering & Sons.  
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Ugly? I like the owl lyre!

[Linked Image]


I am 'doremi' because I play scales smile
Had I progressed to playing chords,
I would be 'domisol' shocked
#278926 - 10/19/08 04:23 PM Re: Very strange piano made by Chickering & Sons.  
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That is a very nice example of the famous Cocked Hat model by Chickering. They have a lovely sound. Many Chickerings fall into the strange category.


Sally Phillips
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#278927 - 10/19/08 04:41 PM Re: Very strange piano made by Chickering & Sons.  
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Avantgardenabi Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by sotto voce:
Yipes, what is that? I've never seen, or heard of, anything like it.

I've never even seen pedals like those before!

Steven

p.s. The bizarre orientation of the third picture reminded me of my grandmother, who grew up in late-Victorian England and was taught to play piano with the bench pulled away at a 45-degree angle. I would be tempted to do that with a piano like this so as to at least remain perpendicular to the tail!
Sotto voce, I was just wondering, do you know a reason behind pulling the piano bench at a 45-degree angle?

Thank you for all your comments. smile Maybe I should try (God forbid!) buying one! laugh (Just kidding)

#278928 - 10/19/08 04:46 PM Re: Very strange piano made by Chickering & Sons.  
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sotto voce Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by Avantgardenabi:
Quote
Originally posted by sotto voce:
[b]p.s. The bizarre orientation of the third picture reminded me of my grandmother, who grew up in late-Victorian England and was taught to play piano with the bench pulled away at a 45-degree angle. I would be tempted to do that with a piano like this so as to at least remain perpendicular to the tail!
Sotto voce, I was just wondering, do you know a reason behind pulling the piano bench at a 45-degree angle?[/b]
I have no idea! Her only explanation was that that's the way she was taught.

To this day, I don't know if it was a custom of that time and place or simply an idiosyncrasy of her teacher.

Steven

#278929 - 10/19/08 04:53 PM Re: Very strange piano made by Chickering & Sons.  
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Reminds me of bentside spinets (harpsichords)... The keys were at an angle (about 30º), to get a more uniform pluck point configuration for the action.

[Linked Image]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinet

It would be nice to see the action of this Chickering.

#278930 - 10/19/08 05:00 PM Re: Very strange piano made by Chickering & Sons.  
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Quote
Originally posted by doremi:
Ugly? I like the owl lyre!

[Linked Image]
No tipping on that lyre...


Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.
#278931 - 10/19/08 05:11 PM Re: Very strange piano made by Chickering & Sons.  
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Quote
Originally posted by sotto voce:
p.s. The bizarre orientation of the third picture reminded me of my grandmother, who grew up in late-Victorian England and was taught to play piano with the bench pulled away at a 45-degree angle. I would be tempted to do that with a piano like this so as to at least remain perpendicular to the tail!
I understand harpsichord players used to sit in that position. Couperin suggested that "One should turn very slightly to the right, the knees not pressed together, with the right foot extended. One must have an air of ease at the harpsichord."

There's a painting by Jan Steen showing this ("The Harpsichord Lesson"):

[img]http://tinyurl.com/59fgnh[/img]

Maybe it was more about looks than technical matters. It doesn't make sense to attempt that on the modern piano playing standard repertoire.

#278932 - 10/19/08 05:14 PM Re: Very strange piano made by Chickering & Sons.  
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Good grief. Even the piano bench is weird.


Buy some good stock and hold it till it goes up, then sell it. If it don't go up, don't buy it.
Will Rogers

[Linked Image]
#278933 - 10/19/08 05:22 PM Re: Very strange piano made by Chickering & Sons.  
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Coming back to the Chickering, it appears to be straight strung. I suppose that angling all the strings to the side would have the effect of reducing the length of the piano from front to back (i.e. in the direction perpendicular to the keyboard). How's that for a theory? Unorthodox, but possibly a good idea?

Sort of like happens when the bass strings are overstrung, except in this case there is no overstringing.

#278934 - 10/19/08 05:24 PM Re: Very strange piano made by Chickering & Sons.  
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The story I was told about the Chickering cocked hat grand was that it was designed to fit into the bay windows in the old apartments on Beacon Hill, and other places around Boston.


Matt Quinlan, RPT
Piano Tuner/Technician
#278935 - 10/19/08 05:31 PM Re: Very strange piano made by Chickering & Sons.  
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Interestingly, I would not have called this piano a cocked hat grand. The cocked hat grand that I have had the pleasure of being involved in rebuilding had a curved spine.

In other words, the piano was a little more "kidney shaped" with no straight side at all.

Sally, can you comment?


Rich Galassini
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#278936 - 10/19/08 05:34 PM Re: Very strange piano made by Chickering & Sons.  
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Erus, you beat me to it. I think the overall configuration was more for conservation of space (remember that rooms were smaller in earlier times, and economic factors always have some influence in instrument design; consider also the virginal and muselaar instruments as alternatives to the larger "flügel" harpsichords).

Here are two other examples. The first one is available as a kit from Hubbard harpsichords, the second is Dolmetsch "revival" instrument that I have which has a similar geometry.

I will admit, I'd never seen such a structure for a piano, and can't imagine what its advantage is, unless it produces a narrower instrument for some awkward spaces.

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]


There is no end of learning. -Robert Schumann Rules for Young Musicians
#278937 - 10/19/08 05:36 PM Re: Very strange piano made by Chickering & Sons.  
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If the cocked hat grand is cross-strung, then the long sides is shortened, possibly curved, as Rich said. There is one of those in the Smithsonian. They are based on the bent-side spinet configuration.


Semipro Tech
#278938 - 10/19/08 06:45 PM Re: Very strange piano made by Chickering & Sons.  
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I did some googling, and this piano seems to be in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston:

[Linked Image]

Different legs, but almost identical otherwise.

I like that Harpshicord, Palindrome. smile

#278939 - 10/19/08 07:23 PM Re: Very strange piano made by Chickering & Sons.  
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Check out how thick those rims are. I'm surprised how thin the rims are on most newer pianos. No wonder the old ones are still around.

#278940 - 10/19/08 07:34 PM Re: Very strange piano made by Chickering & Sons.  
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Quote
...the piano was a little more "kidney shaped" with no straight side at all.

Sally, can you comment?
I am not Sally, but come to think of it, a kidney grand with an owl lyre could be the distinctive piece of furniture that that hedge fund manager is looking for in a parallel thread.


I am 'doremi' because I play scales smile
Had I progressed to playing chords,
I would be 'domisol' shocked
#278941 - 10/20/08 09:37 AM Re: Very strange piano made by Chickering & Sons.  
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After the past two weeks that hedge fund manager is most likely living in a van down by the river.


Jonnie P.
Seattle, WA

Kawai RX-2 ES

Obsessive behaviour: Jazz and other forms of piano improvisation
#278942 - 10/20/08 11:37 AM Re: Very strange piano made by Chickering & Sons.  
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Just when I think I have seen it all in my 35 years in the business, this comes along, oh yeh, and likely another Acrosonic cabinet I haven't seen.


Co-Author of The Complete Idiot's Guide To Buying A Piano. A "must read" before you shop.
Work for west coast dealer for Yamaha, Schimmel, Bosendorfer, Wm. Knabe.
#278943 - 10/20/08 05:02 PM Re: Very strange piano made by Chickering & Sons.  
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The one aspect of Chickering's production that most rebuilders can agree on is the complete inconsistency of models. I'm sure there were several variations on the Cocked Hat idea. The ones that I have seen are bichordal and not overstrung with the bass side straight.

I would love to see pics of Rich's piano that he rebuilt. I do believe that the OP's piano does fall into the Cocked Hat category.


Sally Phillips
Owner
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Piano Perfect, LLC
Steinway & Sons Pianos
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One can always find something to improve.
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#278944 - 10/20/08 05:44 PM Re: Very strange piano made by Chickering & Sons.  
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This is more of what is considered a cocked hat:

[Linked Image] [Linked Image]

This is a Mathushek,another fine nineteenth century make.

the idea was to try to make a grand piano more space efficient. The much-derided square grand was the other, more popular attempt:

[Linked Image]

Aldo called "parlor" grands, as they were often situated in the parlor.


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#278945 - 10/20/08 06:33 PM Re: Very strange piano made by Chickering & Sons.  
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http://www.davidrumsey.com/Amico/amico235112-13793.html

opera tenor,

As I said previously, the MFA in Boston considers theirs a Cocked Hat Chickering. They are identical except for the legs. Other manufacturers may have another take on it but the Chickering company made enough of these in this shape to refer to it as such in their catalog. I will look this up in some material that I have at home when I get back.


Sally Phillips
Owner
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Steinway & Sons Pianos
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One can always find something to improve.
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#278946 - 10/20/08 06:50 PM Re: Very strange piano made by Chickering & Sons.  
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Here are some pictures of the action. smile

I asked one of the sellers in ebay to send me some pictures, of course.

I don't know anything about seeing piano's action, but I think hammers are angled and little strange.

Last edited by Piano World; 12/22/10 03:41 PM. Reason: Sorry, pictures removed at request of the piano owner. He stated nobody had permission to use his pictures.
#278947 - 10/20/08 06:54 PM Re: Very strange piano made by Chickering & Sons.  
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Interesting action...not the most even hammer line I've ever seen. laugh :


Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.
#1542740 - 10/24/10 10:26 PM Re: Very strange piano made by Chickering & Sons. [Re: Horowitzian]  
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This piano is, in fact, correctly called a cocked hat grand. The radical angle of the case relative to the keyboard being the characteristic feature of this class of piano. These were made in several sizes by Chickering - beginning, I believe, in the 1850s.
Other companies made this style of piano as well, including the Mathusek shown. They called their pianos cocked hat grands. Actually, later, Chickering made a modernized Cocked Hat - that is one using overstrunging as well as triple strung unisons. This one, judging from its case and legs was, apparently, made as late as the 1880's.
With due respect to the opinions of others I would have to disagree as to a general inconsistency of the models of Chickering's production, at least with regard to those being built since the 1850's, although this is a very commonly held opinion. What is, in fact, a bewildering variety of design features may sometimes seem to be an inconsistency of models, but this is misleading. Without doubt their pianos exhibit the implementation of the greatest variety of design features of any company since the advent of the cast iron frame.
One, I think should be cautious in extending this claim to the 130 year production period, mostly in Europe, before the development of the iron frame as all a company had to do to produce another product was to change the woodworking, a relatively easy task. Once piano companies routinely employed the iron frame then a substantial expense and complexity had to be overcome to introduce new designs. Nevertheless, by just observing the numerous Chickering designs that are out their by the thousands I think it is safe to make this claim - at least since they introduced the use of the cast-iron plate.
Regards, Robin Hufford, RPT

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