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Chickering serial numbers and models? #2490469
12/14/15 12:14 AM
12/14/15 12:14 AM
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Klavimaniac Offline OP
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Does any Chickering expert have a more detailed list of serial numbers referencing production years and can anyone explain the confusing models of this interesting firm?
Thank you!

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Re: Chickering serial numbers and models? [Re: Klavimaniac] #2490476
12/14/15 12:42 AM
12/14/15 12:42 AM
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FrankCox Online content
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I'm not a piano expert, but here's what you want:

http://www.bluebookofpianos.com/pianoage.html#CHICKERING%20&%20SONS


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Re: Chickering serial numbers and models? [Re: Klavimaniac] #2490552
12/14/15 09:14 AM
12/14/15 09:14 AM
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Thank you FrakCox but I of course I came across that list as well. It is, however, extremely low resolution. It also doesn't explain models and their features.

Re: Chickering serial numbers and models? [Re: Klavimaniac] #2490570
12/14/15 10:22 AM
12/14/15 10:22 AM
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Greg Bennett Offline
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Hi,

Do you have any particular time frame you're interested in, or particular pianos you'd like to know about specifically? Squares, grands, uprights?

I can provide dates for any serial number up to about 80,000. Let me know if that would help. As for models and features, I don't think there's a centralized location for that information, but I'm working to develop just such a thing for Chickering pianos pre-1900.

Greg


Many, many Chickerings (1831 - 1882).
1817 Clementi Square.
~1855 Mason & Hamlin Melodeon.
1961 John Challis Harpsichord (aluminum soundboard and all).
1 very patient wife.
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Re: Chickering serial numbers and models? [Re: Klavimaniac] #2490581
12/14/15 11:08 AM
12/14/15 11:08 AM
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I was told, years ago, when I was just getting a good start in the rebuilding shop, that the Knabes and the Chickerings were both piano makers that would be constantly tinkering with their designs trying to come up with better pianos. I was also told that they sold many of their 'experiments'.

That said, it's not unusual to find some of those old pianos with some unique feature that you may not find even on what you might think would be the same model a year before or a year after.

I never had the memory for the level of detail it would take to keep track of all of that kind of thing but the guy that I worked with for several years in the shop did, at least way beyond me.

That's just what I was told. Then again, my memory isn't what it used to be... wink

Re: Chickering serial numbers and models? [Re: Klavimaniac] #2490729
12/14/15 08:39 PM
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Thanks for your offer about the serial numbers. I was interested in an upright with the serial number 90612. The seller seems unsure about the production year. The other one is a concert grand without obvious serial number (perhaps hidden?)currently on eBay under the header "Chickering Victorian Concert Grand Piano"


Re: Chickering serial numbers and models? [Re: Klavimaniac] #2490736
12/14/15 09:22 PM
12/14/15 09:22 PM
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90612 would be between 1895 and 1900. Probably neither of these pianos would be a good choice unless they had been substantially rebuilt by someone who knows them.


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Re: Chickering serial numbers and models? [Re: Klavimaniac] #2490746
12/14/15 10:50 PM
12/14/15 10:50 PM
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Sure, they need rebuilding. But they could be good just for that.
Thanks

Re: Chickering serial numbers and models? [Re: Klavimaniac] #2490747
12/14/15 10:56 PM
12/14/15 10:56 PM
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Provided that the you do not mind all the extra trouble and expense that could be involved.


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Re: Chickering serial numbers and models? [Re: Klavimaniac] #2491789
12/18/15 03:23 PM
12/18/15 03:23 PM
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Greg Bennett Offline
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Originally Posted by Klavimaniac
I was interested in an upright with the serial number 90612. The seller seems unsure about the production year.

This is a mahogany Scale 112B upright (about which I know absolutely nothing), shipped out of the factory on December 22, 1898.

Originally Posted by Klavimaniac
The other one is a concert grand without obvious serial number (perhaps hidden?)currently on eBay under the header "Chickering Victorian Concert Grand Piano"

That is a Scale 33B, from the late 1860s or early-to-mid 1870s. Not sure where they're getting the date 1883 from. The Scale 33 was not produced that late.

This piano's been on Ebay for a while and I asked about the serial number some time ago. At first I was told it's "the highs 3900" [sic] then I was told "it's in the 27000." Not sure why they've been as cryptic as they have. As a point of reference, 27500 is from February 1865 (likely a bit too early for the Scale 33B)and 39780 is from March-April 1872 (more like it).

I hope this is helpful.

Greg Bennett


Many, many Chickerings (1831 - 1882).
1817 Clementi Square.
~1855 Mason & Hamlin Melodeon.
1961 John Challis Harpsichord (aluminum soundboard and all).
1 very patient wife.
Re: Chickering serial numbers and models? [Re: Greg Bennett] #2491827
12/18/15 06:06 PM
12/18/15 06:06 PM
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How about Chickering upright 83858? I know it's Scale 70B, but that's about it. Thanks!


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Re: Chickering serial numbers and models? [Re: Greg Bennett] #2491857
12/18/15 07:53 PM
12/18/15 07:53 PM
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Greg,

I've got 3 Chickering's to add to your database. If you have more information on them, that would be greatly appreciated.

1. Chickering 119, #94010
2. Chickering Serial #75630 printed on soundboard, concert grand, model unknown.
3. Chickering 33B, Where do I locate the serial number on this model?

Thanks,
Ed

Re: Chickering serial numbers and models? [Re: Klavimaniac] #2491902
12/18/15 10:17 PM
12/18/15 10:17 PM
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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I have always been under the impression that Chickering had a separate set of serial numbers for concert grands. In my experience they can sometimes be hard to find on the piano.


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Re: Chickering serial numbers and models? [Re: Eric Gloo] #2491907
12/18/15 10:27 PM
12/18/15 10:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Eric Gloo
How about Chickering upright 83858? I know it's Scale 70B, but that's about it. Thanks!

Not a lot of info for you, but it shipped to the Chickering & Sons sales room in New York from the factory on March 27, 1894.

Greg Bennett


Many, many Chickerings (1831 - 1882).
1817 Clementi Square.
~1855 Mason & Hamlin Melodeon.
1961 John Challis Harpsichord (aluminum soundboard and all).
1 very patient wife.
Re: Chickering serial numbers and models? [Re: Ed A. Hall] #2491918
12/18/15 11:12 PM
12/18/15 11:12 PM
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Hi Ed,

Thanks for sharing these.

Originally Posted by Ed A. Hall
Chickering 119, #94010

Unfortunately the ledger entries in the 90,000s are in real disarray. There is a batch with 50 or so per page, but the majority of them are one entry per page (and they're not even chronological). Since the Scale 119 is a bit later than where my interest lies, I don't have copies of all the individual 119 entries. Sorry about that.

Originally Posted by Ed A. Hall
Chickering Serial #75630 printed on soundboard, concert grand, model unknown.

This is a Scale 105A with the Swiss Action (Chickering's version of the Erard-Herz action, the primary alternative to the Brown), It was shipped on November 21, 1888 to an F.A. Spencer of San Francisco.

Originally Posted by Ed A. Hall
Chickering 33B, Where do I locate the serial number on this model?

On the 33Bs I've seen with an extant serial number, its usually stenciled on the second strut near the dampers or agraffes, thus:

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

Occasionally, it is in the center of the logo in the middle of the soundboard:

[Linked Image]

These are the obvious spots. On later grands, the serial number is sometime stamped on the top of one of more legs or the top of the lyre. Sometimes its penciled in on a cheek block or somewhere on the action frame or damper action. I hope it turns up!

Greg Bennett

Last edited by Greg Bennett; 12/18/15 11:59 PM.

Many, many Chickerings (1831 - 1882).
1817 Clementi Square.
~1855 Mason & Hamlin Melodeon.
1961 John Challis Harpsichord (aluminum soundboard and all).
1 very patient wife.
Re: Chickering serial numbers and models? [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT] #2491925
12/18/15 11:54 PM
12/18/15 11:54 PM
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Greg Bennett Offline
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Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
I have always been under the impression that Chickering had a separate set of serial numbers for concert grands.

I think this is certainly true. I have seen full grands made well after 1900 (whose serial number should be six digits, i.e. in the hundred thousands) with only a 4- or 5-digit number. Unlike the ever-misleading case number, this number appears in exactly the size and spot that a serial number should. On the few I've seen, the number doesn't make sense as the trailing digits of a 1xx,xxx number with the first one or two numbers suppressed. Nor do they appear to be in a year/model, or vice versa, format. So I've reluctantly joined the camp that surmises that there was a separate set of numbers, or at the very least, a very abstruse numbering system for some full grands.

This really makes sense, however, only if we differentiate between "full grands" and "concert grands." The former and the latter can be the same model (the Scale 131, for example). Thus one might find a Scale 131, for example, with the expected 6-digit serial number and another Scale 131 with an obscure number. This distinction, then, is important because we should not conclude that since there are full grands with the expected 6-digit number that there was no "concert grand" series, or vice versa.

I don't believe, however, that this special numbering was applied anytime during the 1800s. I have not come across any full grands, up to and including the 105D, made past the turn of the century, with the confusing "concert grand" number (though there are certainly many where the serial number has yet to be located). Where the serial number was evident, it corresponded with the normal, chronological ledgers. And the ledgers before 1900 are replete with listings of full grands (33s, 77s, 97s, 105s, etc.) and even the occasional "concert" grand with the normal numbering. Thus, I would not expect the 33B in question to have anything but a 5-digit serial number in the 29,000 - 50,000 range (then again, I should know better than to expect anything bordering on consistency out of Chickering!).

For what it's worth, I checked high and low among the microfilm ledgers at the Smithsonian for a set of serial numbers set aside for concert grands. No luck.

Greg Bennett


Many, many Chickerings (1831 - 1882).
1817 Clementi Square.
~1855 Mason & Hamlin Melodeon.
1961 John Challis Harpsichord (aluminum soundboard and all).
1 very patient wife.
Re: Chickering serial numbers and models? [Re: Klavimaniac] #2492051
12/19/15 12:43 PM
12/19/15 12:43 PM
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Greg,

Thanks for the information provided. Do you have any general information on the Scale 105A? The piano measured 8'9", has a broad tail and the tail has a sharp corner on the bass side. I think it has walnut veneer. The piano design is very modern apart from the open faced pinblock and extremely overbuilt construction.

The strut had been painted on the 33B but I found 36905 stamped on the bottom of the lyre and 3348 stamped on the cheek blocks. I hope that comes up with something.

Ed

Re: Chickering serial numbers and models? [Re: Ed A. Hall] #2492208
12/19/15 11:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Ed A. Hall
I found 36905 stamped on the bottom of the lyre and 3348 stamped on the cheek blocks. I hope that comes up with something. Ed

Hi Ed, that's great. The serial number (36905; the other number is the case number) is right in the expected range. It too was shipped to the NYC Chickering sales rooms, leaving the Boston factory on November 19, 1870. The ledger further indicates a single straight molding, carved legs, and the Brown action.

Originally Posted by Ed A. Hall
Do you have any general information on the Scale 105A? The piano measured 8'9", has a broad tail and the tail has a sharp corner on the bass side. I think it has walnut veneer. The piano design is very modern apart from the open faced pinblock and extremely overbuilt construction.

The 105 series full grand--most frequently encountered in its final iteration, the 105D--is in the family of the 109 (small grand) and 110 (semi grand) yacht tails. These are known for their unusually wide tails and concomitantly large soundboards. Your description definitely conforms with that. The ledger indicates rosewood for yours, though, not walnut. It must be very light rosewood!

I don't really have any other general information on their physical characteristics, though their chronology is a bit odd. There does not appear to be a Scale 105 (that is, without a trailing letter). The first iteration of the 105 appears as the 105B, right at the end of 1886. At this time, Chickering was also producing the Scale 95, 96, 97, and even the old 77 full grands. So there's no clear demarcation of model/scale transition among these full grands.

The 105B was made up until the end of 1891. Right in the middle of the 105B's production came the 105A, running only a short time in 1888. Only a couple dozen 105As were made.

Then in 1891, the 105D was introduced, which was produced past the turn of the century.

I don't know what differentiates the iterations of the 105, apart from plate design. I don't yet have the scaling information for these beasts.

I hope this was at least a little helpful.

Greg Bennett


Many, many Chickerings (1831 - 1882).
1817 Clementi Square.
~1855 Mason & Hamlin Melodeon.
1961 John Challis Harpsichord (aluminum soundboard and all).
1 very patient wife.
Re: Chickering serial numbers and models? [Re: Klavimaniac] #2496426
01/02/16 06:10 PM
01/02/16 06:10 PM
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Thank you Greg for providing those numbers and insights. I was wondering if you know about one more thing. Were the Chickering sound boards always pressure crowned or rib crowned? I am trying to determine the chances of having to recrown the soundboard on the Californian 1898 upright which I actually ended up buying as well as the 33B you gestimated to be from the 1870ies.

Re: Chickering serial numbers and models? [Re: Klavimaniac] #2496999
01/04/16 01:25 PM
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Greg Bennett Offline
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Hi Klavimaniac,

Did you purchase that Ebay 33B?

As for the soundboards, I actually don't know for certain. But I consider Craig Hair on this forum to be among the soundboard experts and he has at least one 33B in his shop. He might be able to give you thay info.

Thanks
Greg


Many, many Chickerings (1831 - 1882).
1817 Clementi Square.
~1855 Mason & Hamlin Melodeon.
1961 John Challis Harpsichord (aluminum soundboard and all).
1 very patient wife.
Re: Chickering serial numbers and models? [Re: Greg Bennett] #2497498
01/05/16 08:42 PM
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Greg,
It is a 112B, 56" tall, as you figured out from 1898. Small world since I am shipping it to Craig together with my 1879 S&S model G for restoration, who also has my 1877 Centennial grand...Craig seems to think that rib crowning was done in later models only but Bill Shull feels that Chickering always used a combination of rib and pressure crowning. Just thought you might know the answer...

Re: Chickering serial numbers and models? [Re: Klavimaniac] #2497596
01/06/16 06:22 AM
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Greg Bennett Offline
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Small world, indeed. Bill Shull is the other person I thought of pointing you towards, with a 33 in his shop and an interest in Chickering soundboards.

Greg


Many, many Chickerings (1831 - 1882).
1817 Clementi Square.
~1855 Mason & Hamlin Melodeon.
1961 John Challis Harpsichord (aluminum soundboard and all).
1 very patient wife.
Re: Chickering serial numbers and models? [Re: Klavimaniac] #2497658
01/06/16 11:22 AM
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Hi, Folks,
As far as we can tell, we see no evidence of Chickering using rib crowning before the turn of the century, or there about. We have recrowned three 1890s Chickering grands of late, a 109C a 110B, and a 105B, and all had straight ribs. We take straight ribs as an indication that the board was originally compression crowned. As for uprights we have a 117 upright, #98940, built just like the one in California, and the ribs are straight and even in contour.

The first crowned ribs for Chickerings were, because it was Chickering after all, part of a radical redign of the belly as a whole. Rather than 12 small straight ribs, these boards have only 7 or so tall, thin ribs. This is a rib from one of those uprights. I believe that a contributor here has a grand with this configuration. I think that this was a short lived design, so his date would be helpful.

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

It is ~56" long, 7/8" wide, and 1 1/4" tall. They have a little more than 1/8" of visible crown in the face. As you can see, it anticipates many later developments in rib-crowned and supported systems popular today.

This may be the last burst of groundbreaking engineering on the part of the old firm. Or it may be the first sign of the effects of the firm's involvment with the conglomerate, and the influences of Knabe, who had employed rib crowning sinse the mid 1890s. Eventually this rib scale was dropped, perhaps because of the impedance variations Will Truitt mentioned.

Be well,
Craig




Craig Hair
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Chesterfield, MA
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Re: Chickering serial numbers and models? [Re: Klavimaniac] #2591482
12/01/16 09:56 AM
12/01/16 09:56 AM
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Hi Greg,

Are you able to tell me what the sales ledgers say about my Quarter Grand serial number 134469 (1920s vintage)? Family lore said that it was originally owned by one of the Gershwin brothers :-)!

Thanks!

Re: Chickering serial numbers and models? [Re: Sskraly] #2593210
12/08/16 03:38 PM
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Hi SSkraly,

My apologies for the slow response. Further apologies in that my interest in Chickering tapers off at around serial number 90,000 (give or take) corresponding to around year 1900 (give or take) as mentioned in an earlier post at the beginning of this thread. Accordingly, I don't have copies of the ledgers for pianos as late as yours.

I believe you can call the Smithsonian Museum of American History and request they check for you.

Best wishes.
Greg


Many, many Chickerings (1831 - 1882).
1817 Clementi Square.
~1855 Mason & Hamlin Melodeon.
1961 John Challis Harpsichord (aluminum soundboard and all).
1 very patient wife.

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