Before you ask me why I bought it and why in the world I would want to put money into an almost century-old piano that isn't a Steinway or any other "prominent" maker of the day, just hear me out.
A couple of months ago I bought a George Steck Duo-Art grand piano. I got it for an excellent price, its old owner just wanted it gone. It apparently sat for years, as I could tell by some sluggishness in the keys (which went away after a few days of playing), keys are ivory and are in excellent shape. The Duo-Art needs a complete rebuilding otherwise, as a piano it is solid. I tuned it not too long ago, all the pins were tight and it held the tune well. Bridges have not visible cracks and the soundboard is not cracked or split. A couple of the bass strings could use a cleaning and a twist. Overall its tone is good in my opinion for a grand of its size.
Anyway, I ran into some confusing details that hindered me from putting an accurate date on it. The fallboard and the soundboard have George Steck decal on them however, the frame has Aeolian cast into it. I know that George Steck was an Aeolian name but it struck me as odd that the plate would have Aeolian on it without mention of the George Steck name. After some internet research, I found that the George Steck frame design was different in my piano. My piano breaks the scale into three sections, one for the wound bass strings, one for the tenor and low treble, and one for the treble (like what you would see in most uprights. There are no agraffes, not even in the bass. Other George Steck Duo-Art and non-player grands had the scale broken into four sections and had Geo. Steck on the plate. If you are wondering why I have not mentioned the serial number yet, I will. These details confused me on whether or not to reference the number with George Steck, or Aeolian, I did both, and the years were both very different. (Checked using Piano Blue Book) By my own judgment of the Duo-Art player and its style, I estimated that it was between 1923-1926 (1923 seems to be most fitting). If I remember correctly, 1923 matched more accurately with George Steck's numbers.
Serial no. VR
I do understand that many of these old pianos are difficult to date accurately, I really just want to know if the guy who refinished the piano, in what my guess was the 70s, put George Steck decals on it instead of Aeolian. In the 20s did Aeolian even sell a Duo-Art grand branded as Aeolian?
My plan for this piano is to restore it myself. I love to take on projects, especially as a college student. I have an interest in player pianos, I rebuilt one when I was sixteen, so the George Steck Duo-Art was right up my alley as I wanted to explore the world of reproducing pianos. I bought it for $500, which I know seems like a lot, but it was the cheapest Duo-Art I could find locally, it also came with almost two hundred rolls. The Duo-Art system is entirely there, no missing parts. It also has a perfect set of ivories, they needed a good cleaning but cleaned up well. The action was gone through at one point, and it is the only thing that looks like it was reconditioned correctly and with great care. The player was half-rebuilt and it looks very half-assed. The guy who refinished it back then must have been smoking something special, he finished the walnut accent and trim pieces the same as the mahogany base, now the piano is all one uniform color! Which was not original for its cabinet style, and is why I don't trust the decals.
Thanks for reading these thoughts, questions, and concerns that went straight from my head to the keyboard. Any information is greatly appreciated!