Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 2.7 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

SEARCH
Piano Forums & Piano World
(ad)
Best of Piano Buyer
 Best of Piano Buyer
(ad)
Piano Life Saver - Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
Find a Professional
Our Classified Ads
Find Piano Professionals-

*Piano Dealers - Piano Stores
*Piano Tuners
*Piano Teachers
*Piano Movers
*Piano Restorations
*Piano Manufacturers

Advertise on Piano World

(ad)
Accu-Tuner
Sanderson Accu-Tuner
Who's Online Now
101 registered members (Bean23, 36251, Beardog, AnthonyPaulO, anotherscott, Albert Brighten, AWilley, 26 invisible), 1,522 guests, and 3 spiders.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
(ad)
Estonia Pianos
Estonia Pianos
Quick Links to Useful Piano & Music Resources
Quick Links:
*Advertise On Piano World
*Free Piano Newsletter
*Online Piano Recitals
*Piano Recitals Index
*Piano & Music Accessories
*Live Piano Venues
*Music School Listings
* Buying a Piano
*Buying A Acoustic Piano
*Buying a Digital Piano
*Pianos for Sale
*Sell Your Piano
*How Old is My Piano?
*Directory/Site Map
*Virtual Piano
*Music Word Search
*Piano Videos
*Virtual Piano Chords & Scales
Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Antique Willis & Co Montreal Piano #1155768
03/02/09 10:32 AM
03/02/09 10:32 AM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 83
Canada
M
mike_klein5 Offline OP
Full Member
mike_klein5  Offline OP
Full Member
M

Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 83
Canada
Hello,

I was just given an old Willis and Co piano. I attended a highschool ('Laurenhill Academy' aka 'Sir Winston Churchhill' back in the day). I attended the school from 1997-2002 and it was in my final year that I found this upright beauty shoved into the back of a boiler room. Over the years the exterior has been scratched up and luckily only two hammers were broken and a couple of keys chipped only at the tips.

I asked the vice principal if I could purchase it from the school since it was being neglected. He asked the schoolboard and there response was that they were going to have this huge piano sale where they would sell all the unused spare pianos in all the EMSB (English Montreal School Board) schools. Upset as I was, I simply forgot about it until one month ago. I found the vice principals email address and contacted him. Surprisingly after a visit the same piano was there. The piano stands about 5 feet tall and has the original ivory keys which were so dark and dirty it was ruff on the fingers. I managed to clean them beatifully with water and a bit of vinegar.

The serial code shows 23063 on the inside and all three pedals work perfectly. There is a metal decorative piece directly above the three pedals which adds to the beauty. I got the piano inspected by H. Nalbandian pianos in West Island and at the moment he removed the action which is being repaired and then tuned (Keeping all original pieces). I forget the exact inscribing on the inside but it shows Registered 1907 and then it says that the company was created in 1877 trandemark of Willis and Co Limited Montreal.

This piano, I am sure is about 100 years old, if not more. I read about Willis & Co pianos and found out that their older pianos were made with great quality until later years. Also, the decal placed on the fall board is apparently very rare. It is quite large and decorated all around showing Willis & Co Montreal Vertical Grand. I just wanted to know any details of its age and what it may be worth. I understand that keeping everything in original condition is the best thing to do. I plan to restore the cabinet when I get a little money since that may cost up to $2000 but the interior is in working order and all original.

Either way, the vice principal told me that I can have it if I can get a professional to move it, which I did. Considering its age and beaty (beyond the scratches and carvings of profanity) I think it was well worth it.

Last edited by mike_klein5; 03/02/09 10:38 AM.

Michael Klein
Willis & Co. (MFD: January 1915) & Yamaha YDP-121 (MFD: 2001)
Piano & Music Gifts & Accessories (570)
Piano accessories and music gift items
Re: Antique Willis & Co Montreal Piano [Re: mike_klein5] #1155777
03/02/09 10:52 AM
03/02/09 10:52 AM
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 4,263
Vancouver B. C. Canada
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member
Silverwood Pianos  Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 4,263
Vancouver B. C. Canada
Willis 23063 would be 1920. The year 1921 starts with 24100. Any Willis instrument previous to 1936 would be good build. At this point it would not have much value (financial) because of the condition of the case. The vinegar will do a good job of cleaning the keys, so well in fact that it will take the lustre off the ivory. This can be replaced with a key top polish…your technician can supply this for you.

There are 2 decals that I know of for replacement, but neither is very decorative. You can take a digital picture of the decal you have and this can be replaced by a truck/car decal shop on a computer cutter.

I have a process developed where I can retain and restore the old decal but it is a tricky process and time consuming.

The pedals and the kick plate above the pedals can be re-plated in either nickel which is the original material or chromium, which is more white in colour and longer lasting.

Last edited by Silverwood Pianos; 03/02/09 10:53 AM.

Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."
Re: Antique Willis & Co Montreal Piano [Re: Silverwood Pianos] #1155794
03/02/09 11:22 AM
03/02/09 11:22 AM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 83
Canada
M
mike_klein5 Offline OP
Full Member
mike_klein5  Offline OP
Full Member
M

Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 83
Canada
Thank Dan, you have no idea how happy I am too find out as much about this piano as possible. Being both an antique and piano lover, getting to know its history is very important to me.


Michael Klein
Willis & Co. (MFD: January 1915) & Yamaha YDP-121 (MFD: 2001)
Re: Antique Willis & Co Montreal Piano [Re: mike_klein5] #1155807
03/02/09 11:36 AM
03/02/09 11:36 AM
Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 4,983
boston north
lilylady Offline
4000 Post Club Member
lilylady  Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 4,983
boston north
Glad that you are happy to have the piano.

Just a quick comment.

With antiques it is often better to leave them in their original condition, but with pianos, it is a different matter.

The old action especially if left in a boiler room, has probably seen its better days.

Refurbishing the inside of an older piano is more important than fixing up the outside!

Hope you can share a picture with us.


"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."
Re: Antique Willis & Co Montreal Piano [Re: Silverwood Pianos] #1155813
03/02/09 11:51 AM
03/02/09 11:51 AM
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 4,263
Vancouver B. C. Canada
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member
Silverwood Pianos  Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 4,263
Vancouver B. C. Canada

Sure thing Mike, I have an out- of-print book here about the history of Canadian pianos. If you would like some of the information on the Willis Company, send me a PM with your mailing address and I will pop some paperwork in the post for you.

Here is a funny tidbit from the Willis Company. In the 60’s and 70’s there were these giant wood console cabinets that where in living rooms all across the nation. These consoles contained a television in the middle, a record player on one side, and an am/fm radio on the other side. The wood console units were manufactured by the Willis Company.

Lilylady,

Good point on the boiler room thing, most instruments after 5yrs. in a school are all dried out anyways. I found a lot of boiler room pianos in my travels. Some in good condition and some get trashed. With school pianos it is the luck of the draw.


Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."
Re: Antique Willis & Co Montreal Piano [Re: lilylady] #1155820
03/02/09 12:10 PM
03/02/09 12:10 PM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 83
Canada
M
mike_klein5 Offline OP
Full Member
mike_klein5  Offline OP
Full Member
M

Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 83
Canada
I most definately will. Right now the action is getting 'corrected' since the hammers were mis-aligned, there were also two hammers which were snapped and the piano technician advised that he can repair it (which I was not sure could even be done). According to the technician, he did advise that the piano internal parts have been kept very well for where the piano was and how it has been used. I am paying $550 including tuning to get the action in working order.

I believe after he fixes the action to its best standards it will be perfect to play on. I will have to confirm if he believes it should still be refurbished. I will take some pictures tonight and post them. Then add more once the action has been installed again. I can't stand waiting to play it. I purchased a YDP-121 a few years back and that is what I have been using for practice. Despite its renowned ability to represent the exact sounds of a Yamaha grand piano, you cannot beat the original sound of a hammer hitting a string. I have been longing to own a real piano and hear what my songs sound like on it. Only a week to wait and it should be ready.

My email address is mike_klein5@hotmail.com. Also, I definately understand the drying out part. The right side of the piano at the bottom is all flaking. You just pass your hand and a bunch of the original varnish flakes to the floor. The wood is so beautiful because there is a part on the piano cover which is still original and not scratched. I wish I could afford to restore it now but I just cant. The piano is simply begging for it and it makes me sad to see what it probably went through all these years.

Last edited by mike_klein5; 03/02/09 12:15 PM.

Michael Klein
Willis & Co. (MFD: January 1915) & Yamaha YDP-121 (MFD: 2001)
Re: Antique Willis & Co Montreal Piano [Re: mike_klein5] #1155833
03/02/09 12:29 PM
03/02/09 12:29 PM
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 4,263
Vancouver B. C. Canada
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member
Silverwood Pianos  Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 4,263
Vancouver B. C. Canada

Mike,
I have tried several combinations of the hotmail address, and it keeps coming back here. Can you go to my web site and email me a test so I can return to you?
Thanks,


Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."
Re: Antique Willis & Co Montreal Piano [Re: Silverwood Pianos] #1155841
03/02/09 12:41 PM
03/02/09 12:41 PM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 83
Canada
M
mike_klein5 Offline OP
Full Member
mike_klein5  Offline OP
Full Member
M

Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 83
Canada
I sent you a test email from my email account. Hope it works!


Michael Klein
Willis & Co. (MFD: January 1915) & Yamaha YDP-121 (MFD: 2001)
Re: Antique Willis & Co Montreal Piano [Re: Silverwood Pianos] #1156234
03/02/09 11:30 PM
03/02/09 11:30 PM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 83
Canada
M
mike_klein5 Offline OP
Full Member
mike_klein5  Offline OP
Full Member
M

Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 83
Canada
Here are the photos. Keep in mind the piano is not in good shape on the outside but it is all surface scratches and can be restored according to the piano technician I am speaking with. I also realized I made a mistake with the serial number. I though it was 23063 when it is actually 12063. Can you let me know the year of that? I was going based off of memory and only realized I was wrong after coming home.

Front Piano View, Fallboard Closed
Pedals View With Kick Plate
Left Keyboard View
Rare Willis & Co. Decal on Fallboard
Upper Left Soundboard
Upper Right Soundboard
Front Open View, Action Removed
Strings View With Backend of Keys
12063 Serial Number
Right Keyboard View

Last edited by mike_klein5; 03/03/09 12:02 AM.

Michael Klein
Willis & Co. (MFD: January 1915) & Yamaha YDP-121 (MFD: 2001)
Re: Antique Willis & Co Montreal Piano [Re: mike_klein5] #1156261
03/02/09 11:57 PM
03/02/09 11:57 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 22,295
Victoria, BC
BruceD Offline
Gold Subscriber
BruceD  Offline
Gold Subscriber

Joined: May 2001
Posts: 22,295
Victoria, BC
It looks as though the manufacturing date is 1916.

I would be more than surprised if $550.00 is going to be all it takes to get this piano into "good" playing condition. Given its age and where it's been in storage, I would think that $550.00 - including tuning - is a minimal adjustment of some very old parts. I would think that the condition of many of these parts, however, might not stand up to much playing. Just don't be surprised, if refurbishing is recommended, that it comes in with a much higher price tag.

On the other hand, maybe you do have a "miracle" piano.

Regards,


BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190
Re: Antique Willis & Co Montreal Piano [Re: BruceD] #1156275
03/03/09 12:09 AM
03/03/09 12:09 AM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 83
Canada
M
mike_klein5 Offline OP
Full Member
mike_klein5  Offline OP
Full Member
M

Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 83
Canada
Thats what I was thinking at first, but after I got it looked at by a technician he was even shocked by what condition the action was in. He advised that it would be in my best interest to refurbish everything eventually but by paying $550 he can get the piano in working order and it would most likely last a while. Again, just basing it off of what he said! I am not expecting miracles, I am just happy I got a piano for free.

A base price for a piano now (after doing some reasearch) seems to be about $500 dollars and then you have to spend an additional $500-1000 just to get it working. I just think that this is $500 ahead of the game so its all good!!!


Michael Klein
Willis & Co. (MFD: January 1915) & Yamaha YDP-121 (MFD: 2001)
Re: Antique Willis & Co Montreal Piano [Re: mike_klein5] #1156398
03/03/09 10:27 AM
03/03/09 10:27 AM
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 4,263
Vancouver B. C. Canada
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member
Silverwood Pianos  Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 4,263
Vancouver B. C. Canada

The serial number 12063 was built in the year 1915. The year 1916 starts 14320 so this company was making about 6.3 pianos per day according to these records. The number 12063 was built in the first month of 1915.

The pictures tell the typical story of an instrument used in a school system, the orange shellac finish has deteriorated to the point where there is bare wood showing.

The bass string set and the treble wire are the original ones,set into an open face pin block, and I can imagine that all the parts are original.

The plate style is almost exactly the same as the Gerhard Heintzman instrument of the same era.

The fall board decal cannot be replaced by computer cutter. If you re-finish the instrument,you might want to contact my shop to have a conversation about restoring that decal.

Often times I have found older instruments in schools, where the finish has been beaten up pretty good, but the inside left intact.It is unusual for sure but it does happen.There are some instances where I found instruments in schools that were not used much. Usually they get shoved into a space where there is not a lot of traffic. the boiler room being one of those areas where no-one goes much.Sometimes, in rare cases the schools did not know they even had the instrument.





Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."
Re: Antique Willis & Co Montreal Piano [Re: Silverwood Pianos] #1156421
03/03/09 11:20 AM
03/03/09 11:20 AM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 83
Canada
M
mike_klein5 Offline OP
Full Member
mike_klein5  Offline OP
Full Member
M

Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 83
Canada
Wow, thank you so much. You have been unbelievably helpful. My next step is to contact the schoolboard to see if they have any records on the piano. Most likely they don't keeping in mind the year of the piano but there is a sticker showing a schoolboard tracking number so I will check it out. Thanks again!!!


Michael Klein
Willis & Co. (MFD: January 1915) & Yamaha YDP-121 (MFD: 2001)
Re: Antique Willis & Co Montreal Piano [Re: mike_klein5] #2529081
04/09/16 11:34 AM
04/09/16 11:34 AM
Joined: Apr 2016
Posts: 1
A
Annie_France Offline
Junior Member
Annie_France  Offline
Junior Member
A

Joined: Apr 2016
Posts: 1
Hey,
I was given my grandfather's piano, it's a Willis & Co. The serial number is 4304. Any idea what year it was made?

The piano definitely needs repairs!
Thanks!


Re: Antique Willis & Co Montreal Piano [Re: mike_klein5] #2529137
04/09/16 02:01 PM
04/09/16 02:01 PM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 2,914
Georgia, USA
Sam S Offline

2000 Post Club Member
Sam S  Offline

2000 Post Club Member

Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 2,914
Georgia, USA
1907 - #3600
1908 - #4335

So probably 1907.

And this thread you resurrected is from 2009!

Sam


Moderated by  Ken Knapp, Piano World 

Shop Our Online Store!
Shop Our Store Online
Shop PianoSupplies.com

Did you know Piano World has an online store, and that it's loaded with goodies pianists and music lovers want?
Check it out and place your order.

Special Purchase!
Keyboard and Roses Piano Bench Cushion Keyboard & Roses 14"x30" piano bench cushions Regularly sold for $79 to $100, now only $39. (while supplies last)

(ad)
Pianoteq
PianoTeq Bechstein
(ad)
Faust Harrison Pianos
Faust Harrison 100+ Steinways
New Topics - Multiple Forums
What PianoWorld has cost me...
by David B. 03/26/19 07:48 PM
Rock School Breakdown?
by stevechris. 03/26/19 05:07 PM
Which Yamaha model?
by Azzawaba. 03/26/19 04:48 PM
CP88
by quindecima. 03/26/19 04:37 PM
Story & Clark Console - Worth Investing in?
by Bean23. 03/26/19 04:19 PM
What's Hot!!
PIANO TEACHERS Please read this!
-------------------
European Tour for Piano Lovers
JOIN US FOR THE TOUR!
--------------------
Posting Pictures on the Forums
-------------------
Forums RULES & HELP
-------------------
ADVERTISE on Piano World
Forum Statistics
Forums41
Topics191,148
Posts2,811,207
Members92,886
Most Online15,252
Mar 21st, 2010
Please Support Our Advertisers
Faust Harrison 100+ Steinways

Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver

Sweetwater

 Best of Piano Buyer

PianoTeq Bechstein
Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers


 
Help keep the forums up and running with a donation, any amount is appreciated!
Or by becoming a Subscribing member! Thank-you.
Donate   Subscribe
 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
| Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter |


copyright 1997 - 2019 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission
Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.6.2