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1958 Steinway D with an unusually finished plate
#2520980 03/14/16 12:42 PM
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I encountered this 1958 D over the weekend, with the oddest finish I have ever seen on a Steinway plate. Note that the dampers are finished to match, and I believe the wound strings were also made to color-coordinate.

The dealer showing the piano did not have much in the way of detail, but believes that the finish is original and relates somehow to a Steinway promotion back in 1958 when the piano was made. The photo doesn't bring out the detail, so I'll add that it is a "crackle" finish.

[Linked Image]

Do any of the experts around here have any insights or background on what is certainly a curiosity?

Larry.

Re: 1958 Steinway D with an unusually finished plate
iLaw #2521001 03/14/16 01:23 PM
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Greetings,
This is a crinkle finish that Steinway used for their centennial celebration year(s) in 1956-58. I was told that it was only on L's, M's and B's, but I have never seen a B or D with that combo. It is a mistake to try to remove it and refinish, as the work involved would almost justify buying another plate.
Regards,

Last edited by Ed Foote; 03/14/16 01:24 PM.
Re: 1958 Steinway D with an unusually finished plate
iLaw #2521107 03/14/16 06:44 PM
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A local PBS broadcast in my neck of the woods featured students and graduate students performing on a Steinway D that had a plate with a rough or crackle finish, but I don't recall dampers to match. This was an older piano in the hosting university's TV studio, not the main piano in the music school's concert hall.

I asked my tech about it, and he thought that it was a labor-saving finish used for a while in the 50s.


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Re: 1958 Steinway D with an unusually finished plate
iLaw #2521158 03/14/16 10:08 PM
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They also did the uprights this way for some time after discontinuing it on grands.

Ed Foote,
Couldn't one just flat sand the crinkle finish off and recoat with smooth bronze lacquer?


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Re: 1958 Steinway D with an unusually finished plate
Ed McMorrow, RPT #2521164 03/14/16 11:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
They also did the uprights this way for some time after discontinuing it on grands.

Ed Foote,
Couldn't one just flat sand the crinkle finish off and recoat with smooth bronze lacquer?


Did one a few years ago. Sanded, then sprayed on several coats of automotive primer. Whatever you do, don't strip it off!


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Re: 1958 Steinway D with an unusually finished plate
iLaw #2521245 03/15/16 06:07 AM
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I have a D with that finish, but the dampers are normal. It's a rebuild from 1957.



Re: 1958 Steinway D with an unusually finished plate
iLaw #2521312 03/15/16 10:46 AM
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On a related note, the recital hall at the Greenwich House Music School in NYC has two Steinway B's with consecutive serial numbers, but the plates are different! Not just different finish, different ornamentation.

Re: 1958 Steinway D with an unusually finished plate
iLaw #2521692 03/16/16 01:04 PM
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I believe Steinway Serial Numbers are assigned as they reach the end of production. So they ended production together, but could have started production far apart. During construction the case numbers keep everything on the same piano.



Re: 1958 Steinway D with an unusually finished plate
Bob #2521781 03/16/16 05:22 PM
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Friends:

This will really be "letting the cat out of the bag," but I have an especially happy memory of playing a D with that distinctive plate finish.

It was in the Fairchild Theatre at MSU, East Lansing, in the middle '60s. I had just learned the Brahms Op.79 Rhapsodies and gave them their first outing on that piano. Although I was too young at the time to know anything about anything really, I recall that this particular D had an aristocratic, refined and elegant tone, as well as a wonderfully regulated action. The sound was bright in the treble but without undue brilliance. The middle and tenor were clear, mellow, and the bass resonant but not thick. I hope you won't think me mental if I insist that I still remember that piano.

Our family tuner was George de Groot, the father of the forum's dear, late, Jerry de Groot, so I was accustomed to a well-maintained piano. But this was something so unusual that I asked about the technician and I remember being told that it was a celebrated man that taught piano technology at MSU. I believe he published a respected book on the subject. It's so many years ago that I can't remember his name. It was not a new piano even then. Just recently, I was reliably informed that it still exists and in a good state.

No question about all Steinways sounding like battering rams.
This was a Steinway that Schnabel might have admired, and he heartily disliked them.

I've never seen another D with that unusual plate finish, however I've played several Forsters in Europe that were like it.

Karl Watson,
Staten Island, NY

Re: 1958 Steinway D with an unusually finished plate
Karl Watson #2521806 03/16/16 06:28 PM
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Karl,

That's a great story. I wish you knew the serial number on your D at MSU because the piano I photographed above has been in the Midwest for a long time, and could conceivably be the same piano. The dealer that showed it to me did not share much in the way of it's provenance, but I might be able to find out a little more information.

FWIW, I have a similar story about an SD-10 at Interlochen in the early 70s that, thanks to an Interlochen piano tech (and maybe some prodding from the Brubeck clan, who were all over the place in those days), was far beyond any SD-10 I've played since.

Larry.

Re: 1958 Steinway D with an unusually finished plate
iLaw #2521858 03/16/16 10:02 PM
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There is one like this in Vancouver that I am quoting on restoring. It has the crackle paint but the dampers are normal. The vintage is 1955 according to serial number 347XXX
This is one of 3 "D"s I'm quoting on and I have two on the go in my shop. At current prices restoring these old "D"s is a bargain.


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Re: 1958 Steinway D with an unusually finished plate
Karl Watson #2521886 03/16/16 11:43 PM
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Karl, what a grand memory of a grand. I'd say you'd be on the mental side of mental had you not remembered playing that piano.

:o))

Re: 1958 Steinway D with an unusually finished plate
iLaw #2522075 03/17/16 03:20 PM
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I was thinking about a few other Steinway "D"s
We had 2 other ones go though our shop with that plate finish in the 1990's.


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Re: 1958 Steinway D with an unusually finished plate
iLaw #2522201 03/18/16 02:41 AM
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I've had a few centennial Steinway M(s) with the rounded deco legs and brass lyre with that krinkle cut finish plate. I wouldn't mess with that plate finish other than just reguilding it.If you're brave enough. sandblast it. Let me know how that worked out for you.


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Re: 1958 Steinway D with an unusually finished plate
iLaw #2522235 03/18/16 07:46 AM
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If one is inclined to experiment, it would probably be better to experiment on one of the cheap Baldwin pianos with crackle finish plates.


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