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#2008471 - 01/03/13 10:48 AM 1877 Steinway Upright
tealocke Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/02/13
Posts: 4
Hi there,

It turns out the piano I would like to purchase is a 1877 upright - Rosewood. Thanks to this forum, I realized it was not a 1964. Serial number 38822. For the age, I am thinking it had to have been restored as it is beautiful - keys are all working and cabinet appears refinished, etc. However, should I go forward? I just got off the phone with Steinway and they said not to bother - it will never hold a tune because of its age and they have no record of restoration. Any help is greatly appreciated.

Also, does anyone know what model this would be?


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#2008477 - 01/03/13 11:05 AM Re: 1877 Steinway Upright [Re: tealocke]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014

Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
Steinway has no info on restorations unless they were completed in their own shop. That doesn't mean that the work could not have been done by another shop.

It seems that the people who are selling the piano aren't giving you straight info or you have missunderstood what they are saying. If it had only one owner, and spent it's life in the same home, that would certainly be a "vintage" home.

Don't do anything until you have the accurate facts and history of the piano. Before you consider purchase, it will need a full inspection by a competent and qualified piano technician.

There is no way to even speculate on a fair price without further information.

Welcome to Piano World!
Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

#2008487 - 01/03/13 11:36 AM Re: 1877 Steinway Upright [Re: Minnesota Marty]
tealocke Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/02/13
Posts: 4
Thank you Marty. I am not sure if it is even worth a look by a tech if what Steinway said is true - that it could never hold tune. I am very new to this piano world and just playing catch up. The owner stated that the piano came with his home in the 90's and he assumed it was from 1964 because when he looked up the serial number he came up with 1964 - around the time when the house was built. By the way, I did the same thing on a site that was called blue book of pianos and we both got the same impression that is was from 1964. Should of looked at the Steinway site first.

He said since it was in the home, his girls learn to play on it and played for about ten years total. They are now grown and they are looking to downsize and move themselves.

What do you think about the possibility of restoring something so old? Steinway said it is not possible, although, I found some 1887 uprights being sold for a good deal after restoration.

Thanks for your patience.

#2008490 - 01/03/13 11:45 AM Re: 1877 Steinway Upright [Re: tealocke]
Eric Gloo Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 1371
Loc: Richfield Springs, New York
The only way to know is to have a technician inspect it for you.
Eric Gloo
Piano Technician
Certified Dampp-Chaser Installer
Richfield Springs, New York

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#2008525 - 01/03/13 01:09 PM Re: 1877 Steinway Upright [Re: tealocke]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014

Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
OK, the history is now a mystery.

It is the pinblock, the wood behind the tuning pins, which determines whether a piano will hold it's intonation. This part is usually replaced when a piano is completely rebuilt. On an instrument from 1887, with an original pinblock, it probably would not be able to stay in tune. Steinway is correct in their advice. However, they don't know the maintenance history either.

Again it goes back to the need to have the piano inspected by a proper technician.
Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

#2008530 - 01/03/13 01:19 PM Re: 1877 Steinway Upright [Re: tealocke]
Bob Newbie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/06
Posts: 1555
I don't see how it could've been mistaken for a 1964..pictures I've seen for 1877 Steinway
uprights are rather ornate...

#2008560 - 01/03/13 02:15 PM Re: 1877 Steinway Upright [Re: tealocke]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5513
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Perhaps it's time for a credibility check and a little soul searching:

The thing is you’re looking at a piano that is upwards of 135 years old. Think about that for a moment; that's a full century plus something over a third of another century. Only God knows the climates this piano has seen but it might be worth remembering that for roughly the first century of its life anything resembling good climate controls were unheard of on most homes. Much of the piano is made out of wood—including its actual tone-producing component, the soundboard—and wood reacts to changes in its surrounding micro-climate.

Pianos are also mechanical devices and mechanical devices wear and they wear out. As well, soundboards deteriorate and pinblocks gradually give way. About the only thing that holds up is the cabinetry and even there the finish gradually deteriorates.

You’ve not been able to find out anything about the history of the piano except that the owner didn’t have a clue—apparently—about the true age of the piano. And if he’s that far off on its age I’d certainly not trust him to be accurate about anything having to do with the pianos service history or its current condition either.

To function as a credible musical instrument—ignore the beautiful exterior for now—it will either have to have had a relatively recent complete interior restoration or it will need one Real Soon Now. This will not be a patch-up job; those don’t count. (Except that they can make the work of the actually restorer more difficult.) This will have to either have been, or will become, a complete top-to-bottom restoration that at a minimum will include extensive soundboard work—possibly a new one—and bridge work, a new pinblock (inserts are OK), new strings and tuning pins, either completely rebuilt—or new—action components; new hammers, extensive key work, and a few details I’ve left out. This work, if done competently and thoroughly, will cost a minimum of $12,000 to $15,000. Possibly upwards of $20,000.

Now is the time to have a discussion with yourself: “Is it worth that much to me to have a beautiful old upright piano in my home?” Certainly it will look beautiful and it will play and sound as good (or better) than any comparably sized new piano available at any price but do you want this particular instrument enough to commit yourself to what it may take to get it and keep it in that condition?

If the answer is either "maybe" or "yes" than, as others have suggested, you’d be wise to obtain the services of a good, competent technician—preferably one with some rebuilding experience—to look the piano over and give you a professional opinion about its current condition and its potential as a musical instrument. And what it will take to get it there. Otherwise it's time to walk away from this deal and find something more suitable to your needs.


Edited by Del (01/03/13 02:37 PM)
Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon

#2008704 - 01/03/13 08:02 PM Re: 1877 Steinway Upright [Re: tealocke]
Dave B Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 2577
Loc: Philadelphia area
Talk to a rebuilder. It's a lot of work, but you might convince someone to do the rebuild at the right price.
"Imagine it in all its primatic colorings, its counterpart in our souls - our souls that are great pianos whose strings, of honey and of steel, the divisions of the rainbow set twanging, loosing on the air great novels of adventure!" - William Carlos Williams


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