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Charles M. Stieff piano value? #2870494
07/19/19 12:20 AM
07/19/19 12:20 AM
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San Francisco Bay area
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Does anyone have a familiarity with pianos built by the company Charles M. Stieff? There’s a 9 foot grand by this maker that’s available in an estate settling situation. It’s around 70 to 80 years old and the finish of the case is in very good condition . I’d appreciate anyone who has either played one or perhaps owns one that they might give me a perspective of what it sounds like , it’s possible value , and if you chose to buy one what do you like about the Stieff piano . A friend has told me of the situation and I don’t know the name of this piano Company . Thanks for any insights.

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Re: Charles M. Stieff piano value? [Re: Coda9] #2870498
07/19/19 01:49 AM
07/19/19 01:49 AM
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For several years, I owned a1900 Stieff upright... which I loved. Deep, resonant tone, well built. Unfortunately it did not survive a household calamity where I lost almost everything. Long story.

They were a very small Baltimore family piano company which closed around 1950. Supposedly, they were well respected in the early 1900s. Would the grand have much value? No, just like other large, small production pianos don’t, but I would love to play it. You might do a search here for Stieff for more opinions.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
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Re: Charles M. Stieff piano value? [Re: Coda9] #2870595
07/19/19 10:28 AM
07/19/19 10:28 AM
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Georgia, USA
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I too have heard of the Charles M. Stieff brand of pianos. And, over the years of reading about all the different piano brands on PW and elsewhere, have read they were very well made pianos.

Something else that I've learned about piano brands here on PW over the years, is that there is a LOT of bias among piano professionals and owners regarding different brands.

That said, I'm not so sure I ever met a piano I didn't like, although there were some I definitely liked more than others. smile

Good luck!

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: Charles M. Stieff piano value? [Re: Coda9] #2870599
07/19/19 10:49 AM
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Oh yea, one more thing... I came across this thread on PW many years ago, and copied it and saved it. It is an excellent post of the various piano brands over the years, and I thought was very interesting. And, there are a good many more brands suitable for rebuilding, or just playing as is, than some would lead you to believe. Here is the post:

Originally Posted by miscrms
When looking at buying an older piano I found this list very helpful in narrowing the field. Granted there is a lot more to buying a rebuild core than just picking a "good" brand, but given the hundreds (thousands?) of piano makers back in this period it made sense to me to both weed out the known lesser quality brands, and find out about some of the lesser known quality brands that might just be a great sleeper rebuild on a more modest budget. Also noted that this is one persons opinion and far from all inclusive, but for the most part it seems to align with most of the comments I'd read elsewhere.

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubb...6/topic/000029/Number/0/site_id/1#import

Sorry for the length of the following list, but I found it also useful as a reference to re-order this info by rating rather than just alphabetically. Hope its useful to someone else too smile

Along with the ones you've mentioned I've also read several folks who had very good results with restorations on AB Chase in particular, and then maybe Conover and Vose.

Rob

KNABE, * * * * * Baltimore, the third of the big three (Steinway, Chickering and Knabe) and the only make the Steinway family feared, founded a generation before Steinway by pioneer piano maker William Knabe and Henry Gaehle, Knabe had a couple sons who kept it going. There's a story in Dolge's book about how Knabe risked his company on a promotional tour during the Civil War that paid off. Excellent grands and big uprights.

MASON & HAMLIN, * * * * * Haverhill, MA, began as a reed organ maker late in the 19th century, then made pianos without pinblocks (screw-stringers). They tried many innovations. Everyone knows them now as the great sleeper of them all, perhaps the best piano scales ever designed. All are worth restoring and rebuilding except the screw stringers which many tuners can't seem to tune.

STEINWAY & SONS, * * * * * New York, of course, but don't bother with the long keyed former player pianos unless you intend on restoring the player mechanisms too.

CHICKERING, * * * * Boston, The oldest American piano make, named for Jonas Chickering, one of the pioneer names in American piano building, this firm was at the top of its game when Steinway started in 1853, that same year the first big Chickering factory in Boston burned down and was replaced by the building out of which has been carved a few nice condominiums. Chickering stuck to straight stringing their grands well into the 1870's. The ones to look for are the overstrung kind. Made pianos in Boston into the 1920's (best by some opinions), others made in Rochester, NY. are just as good in my opinion. For a time they also toyed with metal action parts which never worked well. If you run into one of these figure on replacing the action or most of it, which in most instances is a good idea as newer actions have more adjustment advances.

IVERS & POND, * * * * Boston, similar to Hallet & Davis, best between about 1890 and 1925, the usual suspects. Feature a heavy overbuilt style shared with many other good Boston makes. Also made Poole. I find this somewhat humorous and some have suggested that these pianos have some association with water. Another piano make not associated with I & P was Waters, no kidding.

BALDWIN, * * * Cincinnati, the only major name not associated with a piano designer, still among the top tier, artist grands only, models are numerous, some discontinued, more often found models include the D, F, L and R.

CHASE, A. B. * * * Ohio, another sleeper, excellent parlor grands.

CONOVER, * * * Oregon, IL, the only real standouts here are the grands made between 1890 and 1929 after the designs of Frank Conover and Hobart Cable. The big grands can be turned into fairly interesting pianos.
CUNNINGHAM, * * * Philadelphia, yep, the same outfit Rich Gallisini works for, made their own pianos until 1981! The ones that are candidates for rebuilding are their large old uprights and parlor grands.

DECKER BROS., * * * started in New York, moved to Chicago, great pianos before 1915, especially their grands.

FISCHER, J & C, * * * New York and Buffalo, Charles Fischer was the designer, excellent grands and large uprights between 1890 and as late as 1932, made a lot of pianos so there should be plenty still out there.

HALLET & DAVIS, * * * Boston, another very old name, best pianos between 1885 and 1930 but choose carefully, best are large uprights and parlor grands.

KRAKAUER BROS., * * * New York, This was a maker who stayed in business by concentrating on a producing a smaller quantity of well made pianos. Their parlor grands are quite good.

LYON & HEALY, * * * Chicago, more of a retailer than a maker but their reputation for what they chose to put their name on still stands in good stead by many. Their output was sporadic, grands made during the 1920's were by Schulz (Chicago area) and good solid Packard (Indiana) made their uprights. They are still in business but confine themselves exclusively to the making and distribution of harps.

MEHLIN, * * * New York, Paul Mehlin was of the generation of old Englehardt Steinway and did as well quality wise without Steinway's ambition, excellent grand pianos from 1900-1925 or so, some prior to this have gaudy art cases.

MILLER, HENRY F., * * * Boston, named for the founder, a great pioneer piano maker who influenced both Mason & Hamlin and Ivers & Pond, and no doubt influenced their quality caliber and standing as musical instruments. Excellent results with grands going back as far as 1875 but not later than about 1925. Some have gaudy art cases.

SCHOMACKER, * * * Philadelphia, another sleeper, made some excellent parlor grands, they limped along through the Depression until 1941 before going under but their best products were probably made between 1900 and 1929. The only maker I know of that featured gold plated strings!

SOHMER, * * * New York, just down the street from Steinway and there were a lot of cross influences, founded by pioneer maker Hugo Sohmer, many art cases made too, lower production, emphasized quality.

STIEFF, CHAS. M., * * * Baltimore, the other Knabe, and quite old too, went under the year I was born (1951), fairly good pianos from 1890 on, stick to grands only for best results.

WEBER & CO., * * * New York, founded by Albert Weber, whose grands rival the best of their period going back into the 1870's but no later than 1932. Albert Weber was a very talented and ambitious man who pitted his skills against Steinway and lost, virtually working himself to an early death. He left a wonderful legacy as some of his great grand pianos are still out there waiting to live and play again.

BENT, GEO. P., * * Chicago & Louisville, an important piano designer, some of his best work bears his name, most have the name CROWN. Avoid anything but parlor grands (usual size for these is 5'5" to 5'7") and nothing made after 1928.
CROWN, see BENT.

BLASIUS & SONS, * * Philadelphia, better reputation than Behning or Bjur, more standard action geometries, nice parlor grands and huge uprights are best candidates.

BOARDMAN & GRAY, * * Albany, NY, the standouts here are the huge uprights made around the turn of the last century (1890-1910).

BRIGGS, CHARLES C., * * Boston, an important piano designer, only parlor grands bearing his full name.

DAVIS, GEO. H., * * Boston, one of the principals of Hallet & Davis and a pioneer piano designer. A few grands bear his name, most are pre-1900.

DOLL, JACOB & SON., * * New York, another important designer, made grands in the 1920's that are acceptable for rebuilding.

ESTEY, * * New York, prime years are between about 1890 and 1925 with many nice parlor grands made.

HARDMAN, * * New York, another pioneer maker was Hugh Hardman, some are under Hardman & Peck, best are the usual suspects; big uprights and grands, some tell me that their products between about 1901 and the outbreak of WWI (1914) are better than the rest.

HAZELTON BROS., * * New York, an artisan family with high standards, their best products are uprights and parlor grands, after about 1890 but before 1920. Some of the gaudiest art cases were made by these folks.

JEWETT, * * Boston, in its various incarnations, based on the pioneer piano makers Wade Jewett and George Allen, the one's to look for are after about 1895, a Steinert by any other name, see STEINERT

KURTZMANN, * * Buffalo, NY, 1900-1925 is the best period.

BRAMBACH, * New York, a Kohler & Campbell precursor, mostly grands. Those that are too small or with odd action geometries must be excluded.

SCHULZ, OTTO, * * Chicago, made organs as well as pianos but was known for good workmanship, made grands for Lyon & Healy.

STECK, GEO. & CO., * * New York, founded by George Steck, best era is 1900-1929.

STEINERT, * * Boston, but started in Athens, Georgia! was sort of to Boston what Lyon & Healy was to Chicago, Onofrio to Denver or Sherman Clay to the West Coast (Cunningham in Philadelphia made their own); each had pianos made for them and put their name on them. But Steinerts, particularly their parlor grands from just after the end of World War I until Steinway made them stop making them, are sort of special, when and if you can find them.

VOSE & SONS, * * Boston, founded by James W. Vose. One finds some very striking modernistic cabinetry on some of these pianos, prefiguring Danish modern. They can be made into much more than they were when new if you choose the right one, grands only, as early as 1890 but no later than about 1925.

CABLE, HOBART M., * Indiana, only a few sturdy grands from the late 20's qualify.

CHRISTMAN, * New York, some people out there like these, nice parlor grands and larger are occasionally found.

LESTER, * Philadelphia, a vary large company that made a wide variety of pianos of various quality, made a few military pianos for service in the Far East, I've heard of parlor grands made during the 1920's producing surprising results.

McPHAIL, * Boston, another Kohler & Campbell precursor, good huge uprights.

BEHNING, New York, a Kohler & Campbell precursor, mostly big uprights but a few parlor grands may be out there, forget about their baby grands.

BJUR BROS., New York, aother Kohler & Campbell precursor, same cautions as for Behning.

EVERETT, Boston, not by any means all are worthwhile, some rebuilders have rebuilt small grands (not babies) to display their craft rather than how good the original piano was and only those made between 1900 and 1925 should be considered.

HADDORFF, Rockford, IL, made a lot of pianos under a score of stencil names, choose carefully, before about 1925, what I like about them is they were controlled during their formative period by a quality maker.

JANSSEN, Elkhart, IN, included for educational purposes only, the precursor to the present Charles R. Walter, but not with as good a reputation (though I still haven't seen or played any Walters), there is sort of a well constructed but limited musical capability with these. They tend to hold up pretty well, which probably accounts for their longevity as a company, but I wouldn't consider them as real good rebuild candidates. I've never run into a Janssen grand, don't think they ever made any.

KOHLER & CAMPBELL, New York and North Carolina, one of the first piano conglomerates (1896), choose VERY carefully.

MATHUSHEK, New Haven, CT, founded by a pioneer maker Frederick Mathushek. A true innovator in the manufacturing of pianos, some like the big uprights and the few grands that exist are often uncommon designs.

PACKARD, Indiana, made good solid strong uprights, best years 1900-1925.

SCHAAF, ADAM, Chicago, some think these are good.


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: Charles M. Stieff piano value? [Re: Rickster] #2870661
07/19/19 03:08 PM
07/19/19 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Rickster
Oh yea, one more thing... I came across this thread on PW many years ago, and copied it and saved it. It is an excellent post of the various piano brands over the years, and I thought was very interesting. And, there are a good many more brands suitable for rebuilding, or just playing as is, than some would lead you to believe. Here is the post:


The link within that quote doesn't seem to be working, but I'm guessing it's the original post (for which you also provided the full text). As someone who has also shared that list once or twice, I remember that it was compiled by a longtime and well-respected member named David Burton. Just giving credit where it's due.

Re: Charles M. Stieff piano value? [Re: Coda9] #2870679
07/19/19 04:12 PM
07/19/19 04:12 PM
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I’ve heard them called the poor man’s Steinway. I came across a partially rebuilt nine foot Steiff years ago which I thought sounded good. I’ve also played a couple of Steiff baby grands that had a really big tone for their size. Still, I wouldn’t expect it to hold much value but If I were looking for an inexpensive nine foot piano I’d certainly take a look.

Rich


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Re: Charles M. Stieff piano value? [Re: Coda9] #2870696
07/19/19 05:43 PM
07/19/19 05:43 PM
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Lady Bird Online content
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Steinert pianos sounded really interesting as
well.It is a great pity these pianos are no
more.This Stieff piano I have heard of but never seen
I hope it all works out !

Re: Charles M. Stieff piano value? [Re: Sir Lurksalot] #2870710
07/19/19 06:15 PM
07/19/19 06:15 PM
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Williamsburg, VA
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Originally Posted by Sir Lurksalot
Originally Posted by Rickster
Oh yea, one more thing... I came across this thread on PW many years ago, and copied it and saved it. It is an excellent post of the various piano brands over the years, and I thought was very interesting. And, there are a good many more brands suitable for rebuilding, or just playing as is, than some would lead you to believe. Here is the post:


The link within that quote doesn't seem to be working, but I'm guessing it's the original post (for which you also provided the full text). As someone who has also shared that list once or twice, I remember that it was compiled by a longtime and well-respected member named David Burton. Just giving credit where it's due.


AMERICAN brands, not all brands.

Re: Charles M. Stieff piano value? [Re: Coda9] #2870712
07/19/19 06:17 PM
07/19/19 06:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Coda9
Does anyone have a familiarity with pianos built by the company Charles M. Stieff? There’s a 9 foot grand by this maker that’s available in an estate settling situation. It’s around 70 to 80 years old and the finish of the case is in very good condition . I’d appreciate anyone who has either played one or perhaps owns one that they might give me a perspective of what it sounds like , it’s possible value , and if you chose to buy one what do you like about the Stieff piano . A friend has told me of the situation and I don’t know the name of this piano Company . Thanks for any insights.


I've heard that they have a very Stieff action ...

sorry, couldn't resist

Re: Charles M. Stieff piano value? [Re: Piano*Dad] #2870753
07/19/19 08:45 PM
07/19/19 08:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Piano*Dad
Originally Posted by Coda9
Does anyone have a familiarity with pianos built by the company Charles M. Stieff? There’s a 9 foot grand by this maker that’s available in an estate settling situation. It’s around 70 to 80 years old and the finish of the case is in very good condition . I’d appreciate anyone who has either played one or perhaps owns one that they might give me a perspective of what it sounds like , it’s possible value , and if you chose to buy one what do you like about the Stieff piano . A friend has told me of the situation and I don’t know the name of this piano Company . Thanks for any insights.


I've heard that they have a very Stieff action ...

sorry, couldn't resist



groan.....


[Linked Image]
Re: Charles M. Stieff piano value? [Re: Coda9] #2870756
07/19/19 08:53 PM
07/19/19 08:53 PM
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Piano Dad, What do you mean a " Stieff action "
Do you mean stiff action ?

Re: Charles M. Stieff piano value? [Re: Coda9] #2870757
07/19/19 08:55 PM
07/19/19 08:55 PM
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Williamsburg, VA
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Why thank you, NobleHouse. After all, I own a Groantrian ...


Re: Charles M. Stieff piano value? [Re: Coda9] #2870782
07/20/19 12:02 AM
07/20/19 12:02 AM
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Quality wise they are just a little better than Steinways. The designer of the Stieff Pianos was Jacob Gross. He practically worked for every piano company in Europe before working for Charles Stieff. Married his daughter. The soundboard engineering is superior to Steinway and the deep low tone the instruments have are no accident. They are old now and the board should be replaced as the rib structure demands it (low rib profile 70%, Volume .74 in3", medium stress 865 p.s.i. was usually their targets to deliver a low resonating frequency board. and they were not afraid of ribs over 42"). Don't be afraid of the scare tactics to restore a piano that has a brand name that people have forgot. The piano is amazing and as good as any other A grade instrument.
-chris


Maker of Fine Piano Soundboards
Chernobieff Piano Restorations
Lenoir City, Tennessee
www.chernobieffpiano.com
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Re: Charles M. Stieff piano value? [Re: Coda9] #2870787
07/20/19 01:07 AM
07/20/19 01:07 AM
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Yes, that's a great thread by David Burton.
Here's the link to the original thread:

http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/908681.html

I believe David was also mentioned in Grand Obsession (along with Norbert and some others). He did another list of uprights, but I never saw it as a post, rather a special page that sadly seems to have been lost in the site upgrade a year or two ago (we were Stieffed wink ).



"If it sounds good, it is good." - Duke Ellington
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Re: Charles M. Stieff piano value? [Re: Coda9] #2870788
07/20/19 01:09 AM
07/20/19 01:09 AM
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Stieffs turn up on CL around here pretty frequently, given our proximity to Baltimore. People definitely hold them in high regard, although they don't have a high monetary value.



"If it sounds good, it is good." - Duke Ellington
P E R F O R M A N C E over p r o v e n a n c e

Re: Charles M. Stieff piano value? [Re: NobleHouse] #2870789
07/20/19 01:13 AM
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Originally Posted by NobleHouse
Originally Posted by Piano*Dad
Originally Posted by Coda9
Does anyone have a familiarity with pianos built by the company Charles M. Stieff? There’s a 9 foot grand by this maker that’s available in an estate settling situation. It’s around 70 to 80 years old and the finish of the case is in very good condition . I’d appreciate anyone who has either played one or perhaps owns one that they might give me a perspective of what it sounds like , it’s possible value , and if you chose to buy one what do you like about the Stieff piano . A friend has told me of the situation and I don’t know the name of this piano Company . Thanks for any insights.


I've heard that they have a very Stieff action ...

sorry, couldn't resist



groan.....


Keep 'em coming!



"If it sounds good, it is good." - Duke Ellington
P E R F O R M A N C E over p r o v e n a n c e

Re: Charles M. Stieff piano value? [Re: Coda9] #2870887
07/20/19 11:28 AM
07/20/19 11:28 AM
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Being based in Baltimore since 1958 we have come across many Stieff (and Shaw, by Stieff) uprights and grands. As those who posted above have said, Stieff made a VERY nice piano. I would opine that it was in the same class as Knabe (whose factory was about 2 miles away), Steinert, and just below Mason & Hamlin.

The problem is that the younger existing Stieffs are still 60-70 years old with most needing a complete rebuild. If re-sale is even a remote possibility, it simply isn't worth the cost of the rebuild. On the other hand, if you could rebuild it and get 25 or more years serious use, you'd have a wonderful instrument.


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My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.
Re: Charles M. Stieff piano value? [Re: Coda9] #2870892
07/20/19 11:54 AM
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Oakland
A 9-foot piano other than a well-known modern brand is not going to be worth very much. A technician could tell you what work it would need, and approximately what it would cost to do it. Then maybe you could figure out a price it is worth to you.

If you buy a new Steinway or Yamaha, about $150,000, it is going to be worth maybe $80-90,000 once you get it into your home, and would depreciate pretty rapidly after that. So if you paid no more than $5000 for the piano, and put $20,000 into it for restoration, you would do better than buying a new piano. That is, if you can get a good restoration for it.


Semipro Tech
Re: Charles M. Stieff piano value? [Re: Coda9] #2870901
07/20/19 12:20 PM
07/20/19 12:20 PM
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 609
Rockville, MD
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Seeker  Offline
500 Post Club Member

Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 609
Rockville, MD
Stieff built good pianos.
Will you like the way this one sounds is the unanswerable question.
I searched for restored Stieff concert grands, found zero, but... I found this rather interesting video:https://youtu.be/R4EYuwY5yJo of a young tuner working on a restored Stieff parlor grand. At around 9'22" he plays some of a Chopin Nocturne on it.
It can give you SOME idea of the Stieff sound though being YouTube is doesn't do full justice to the audio nor is it from the same size piano.

If the one you are considering can be acquired inexpensively enough, and (of course), you get your technician to inspect it and provide an assessment of its condition and what would need upgrading to bring it to whatever level you have in mind that is acceptable to you, it could be a way to get a good concert grand at a less than premium price.


Andrew Kraus, Pianist
Educated Amateur Tuner/Technician
Rockville, MD USA
www.AndrewKraus.com
www.YouTube.com/RockvillePianoGuy
Twitter at @IAmAPianist

1929 Steinert 6'10" (Close copy of New York S&S "B")
Re: Charles M. Stieff piano value? [Re: Coda9] #2870908
07/20/19 12:39 PM
07/20/19 12:39 PM
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 11,027
Williamsburg, VA
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Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Piano*Dad  Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 11,027
Williamsburg, VA
Here's a Stieff of some historical interest.

Lee Piano

Made by Stieff for Robert E. Lee around 1867. It's in the president's house at Washington & Lee University.


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