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#2171711 - 10/25/13 08:50 AM Ivory Keys  
Joined: Sep 2013
Posts: 3
Michael Reutlinger Offline
Junior Member
Michael Reutlinger  Offline
Junior Member

Joined: Sep 2013
Posts: 3
Central New jersey
Recently came across a 1938 Chickering upright with ivory keys.
They are a bit discolored from age but overall in pretty good shape. Was wondering what the possible value of the keys would be?


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#2171788 - 10/25/13 11:38 AM Re: Ivory Keys [Re: Michael Reutlinger]  
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 24,946
BDB Offline
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Oakland
Learn to recover keys, and you will get lots of ivory keytops without paying anything for them. The value of ivory keys is not in the keys as parts, but in the ability to match and install them.


Semipro Tech
#2171916 - 10/25/13 04:14 PM Re: Ivory Keys [Re: Michael Reutlinger]  
Joined: Apr 2006
Posts: 2,556
OperaTenor Offline
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OperaTenor  Offline
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Joined: Apr 2006
Posts: 2,556
Sandy Eggo, California
Kind of along with what BDB says, they don't really add any value to the piano. If they're all there and just a little discolored, I'd leave them on the piano; to me, nothing feels quite like ivory.



Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
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#2172066 - 10/25/13 09:43 PM Re: Ivory Keys [Re: Michael Reutlinger]  
Joined: May 2013
Posts: 375
Gary Fowler Offline
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Gary Fowler  Offline
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Joined: May 2013
Posts: 375
Opera
you are correct. There is nothing quite like the feel of ivory. I always feel a little sad when I recover a set of keys with plastic.


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#2172113 - 10/25/13 11:53 PM Re: Ivory Keys [Re: Michael Reutlinger]  
Joined: Apr 2008
Posts: 2,481
Emmery Offline
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Emmery  Offline
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Joined: Apr 2008
Posts: 2,481
Niagara Region, On. Canada
I think they can add value to the piano if there is a buyer keen on having them and a seller who picks up on it. I've done quite a few more ivory repairs than normal in the past few years as many middle aged customers are inheriting older pianos and want to preserve them original for nostalgia.

As a side note I haven't really read any good suggestions for this since most topics center on how to whiten yellow ivory, but.... Does anyone have a good recipe for something to use to color match whiter ivory to a more aged yellow? Occasionally I run into still decent somewhat yellowed ivory that is cupped a bit from wear in the middle. These are difficult to whiten up evenly and sometimes I have a good replacement for a damaged one size wise but they are too white for a match.



Piano Technician
George Brown College /85
Niagara Region
#2172118 - 10/26/13 12:24 AM Re: Ivory Keys [Re: Michael Reutlinger]  
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 2,042
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014
bkw58  Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014


Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 2,042
Conway, AR USA
For pianists who enjoy the specific benefit that organic material provides, ivory or bone is invaluable. For others, it's a nuisance to keep up with and worth nothing. My personal preference is ivory. I do not care for plastic key top.


Bob W.
Retired piano technician
Conway, Arkansas
www.pianotechno.blogspot.com
#2172143 - 10/26/13 01:58 AM Re: Ivory Keys [Re: Michael Reutlinger]  
Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 1,620
kpembrook Offline
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kpembrook  Offline
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Posts: 1,620
Michigan
We recycle ivory keytops. We pay $2 per head in good condition and a bulk price for 2nd quality heads and for tails.

PM me if interested.


Keith Akins, RPT
Piano Technologist
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
#2172226 - 10/26/13 08:22 AM Re: Ivory Keys [Re: bkw58]  
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 849
Chuck Behm, CPT-E Offline
500 Post Club Member
Chuck Behm, CPT-E  Offline
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Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 849
Boone, Iowa, USA


Hi Michael - Is this piano you yourself own, or does it belong to a customer? I'm not quite sure from your original post. Either way, a vintage upright having a really nice set of ivory keytops is becoming somewhat of a rarity, and (as Emmery noted) sought after by many middle age and older owners.

If the existing ivories are good, reconditioning them might be an option to consider. If you go to the istore of the Schaff website, you'll find a step-by-step article I wrote about the topic that might be helpful.

If you do end up replacing them, be sure to remove the old ivory first to save for later recycling. Best wishes, Chuck Behm




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"The act of destruction is infinitely easier than the act of creation" - Arthur C. Clarke
#2172232 - 10/26/13 08:38 AM Re: Ivory Keys [Re: Emmery]  
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 306
Chris Storch Offline
Full Member
Chris Storch  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 306
Emmery,

In school, we learned that soaking the ivory wafer in strong tea could darken it to match a yellower color.

I've never tried it, so can't vouch for it's effectiveness.

But there's an idea.

Hope I've helped,


Chris Storch
Acoustician / Piano Technician
#2172339 - 10/26/13 12:25 PM Re: Ivory Keys [Re: Michael Reutlinger]  
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 24,946
BDB Offline
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BDB  Offline
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Oakland
Ivory should dye fairly well. I have even dyed plastic keys to match. The other option is that sanding the rest of the keys will lighten them.


Semipro Tech
#2172358 - 10/26/13 12:59 PM Re: Ivory Keys [Re: BDB]  
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 20
schlaigs Offline
Full Member
schlaigs  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 20
Washington, DC
I saw this thread and would welcome some advice. I recently bought a Steinway A (1942, so it's an A3). I'm going to get it rebuilt. I'd thought I'd get the whole thing rebuilt but having had it for a few days, I'm thinking most of the ivories are in pretty good shape (I'm guessing they're ivory but don't know if they had used something else by 1942) and I'd like to see if I could just get the bad keys replaced. Will try to attach a couple of photos (good and bad) if I can figure out how. Any thoughts about how feasible this is? Is there any place that either specializes in this kind of work or that others would recommend? Can any good rebuilder do this kind of work? Thanks for the advice

#2172863 - 10/27/13 06:24 PM Re: Ivory Keys [Re: BDB]  
Joined: Apr 2008
Posts: 2,481
Emmery Offline
2000 Post Club Member
Emmery  Offline
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Joined: Apr 2008
Posts: 2,481
Niagara Region, On. Canada
Originally Posted by BDB
Ivory should dye fairly well. I have even dyed plastic keys to match. The other option is that sanding the rest of the keys will lighten them.


Normally I sand and buff the other keys, but there are situations this is not going to work well like when the keys are worn/cupped in the center and getting thin already (but otherwise intact and good).

I had considered putting some in a box and blowing cigarette smoke in there to yellow them, seems like this would mimick the color pretty good.


Piano Technician
George Brown College /85
Niagara Region
#2172936 - 10/27/13 08:56 PM Re: Ivory Keys [Re: Michael Reutlinger]  
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 551
Phil D Offline
500 Post Club Member
Phil D  Offline
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Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 551
London, England
That's what bee keepers do to get the yellow colour on bees, isn't it?

#2173426 - 10/28/13 09:19 PM Re: Ivory Keys [Re: Phil D]  
Joined: Apr 2008
Posts: 2,481
Emmery Offline
2000 Post Club Member
Emmery  Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Joined: Apr 2008
Posts: 2,481
Niagara Region, On. Canada
Originally Posted by Phil D
That's what bee keepers do to get the yellow colour on bees, isn't it?


Good one Phil. Having worked with bees in my teens I can tell you they use smoke to relax them and make them less angry at you messing with their hive. Smoke covers the scent of alarm pheromones bees give off. Some bees get injured when you remove the honey. The smoke also causes them to gorge on the honey. They do this from instinct to protect stores from hive abondonment in case of a fire. Once they are full with honey, their abdomens distend, and they cannot sting as easily.


Piano Technician
George Brown College /85
Niagara Region

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