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"Boxtop" Ivers & Pond?

Posted By: handlebars

"Boxtop" Ivers & Pond? - 02/04/13 07:01 AM

Tomorrow I'm planning to examine three or four older uprights. Hopefully the best one will have the quality and condition to merit a restoration (expensive, I know, but I plan to do part of the work myself and keep the piano for several years).

I have a pic of one, and I'd like to hear if anyone else has seen a case made quite this way. It's labeled "Ivers & Pond," and the owner said it has a boxtop case. There's something of a shelf or stairstep about a foot from the top of the (approximately 5') case. I assume the frame and strings extend into the tallest part of the case. Has anyone seen a case made this way, and am I pretty safe to say this is a Boston-made Ivers & Pond?

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Posted By: Pianolance

Re: "Boxtop" Ivers & Pond? - 02/04/13 08:04 AM

Looks like a great place to keep your vintage hot wheels collection.
Posted By: BDB

Re: "Boxtop" Ivers & Pond? - 02/04/13 08:16 AM

Pianos like that were not made that way. The top of the piano was cut off. Usually there was a mirror placed along the back to reflect the other side of the room and make the piano appear shorter, so they are often called mirror pianos. Doing this has gone out of style, which has pretty much killed whatever value there may have been in the piano, especially since the work was never done particularly neatly.
Posted By: handlebars

Re: "Boxtop" Ivers & Pond? - 02/04/13 03:11 PM

BDB, thanks very much for the information. I'm sad to hear it, but hat's exactly what I needed to know!
Posted By: Supply

Re: "Boxtop" Ivers & Pond? - 02/04/13 04:52 PM

However, it should be added that Ivers and Pond made some spectacular sounding upright pianos of the highest quality. If you can look beyond the unfortunate case modification and the price is right, this could still be a very interesting piano. Have it checked out by a technician, of course...
Posted By: miscrms

Re: "Boxtop" Ivers & Pond? - 02/04/13 09:25 PM

IMHO a mirror piano may present a great opportunity for the right buyer. If your interest lies more in the underlying functional/structural/tonal qualities of an older piano, the cosmetic modification that makes it undesirable to others may in fact be a boon. We ended up buying an 1874 Steinway Early Large Scale upright with a similar mirror makeover that in its playable/tunable condition probably would have probably gone for $1000-$2000 if not for its case molestation. For us that moved its value down into our $500 target range. Given the choice between an unmodified and modified piano of the same type / condition for the same price it would certainly make sense to go with the unmodified piano. But if the modification moves a better quality and/or condition piano, which an Ivers&Pond by many accounts could be quite good, into the same price range as a lesser unmodified piano, I'd think seriously about going for the mirror piano. You just have to either like how it looks or not really care about it appearance, and be ok with the fact that it will never be as desirable/valuable if you decide to try and sell it later.

Good luck on your hunt!

Posted By: miscrms

Re: "Boxtop" Ivers & Pond? - 02/04/13 09:37 PM

BTW when I was on the hunt I found this thread very helpful in terms of narrowing the field a bit. The condition / qualities of any individual piano are still paramount, but there were so many rundown old pianos to look at it was helpful to filter out the ones that were likely not that great to start with.


To make it more readily usable I also took this info and reordered it into roughly descending rank. Note that I believe the OP considered both absolute quality and value for money in his rankings, and while obviously represents one persons opinions and is not all inclusive it seemed consistent more or less with many other things that I'd read.

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.

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.
Posted By: BDB

Re: "Boxtop" Ivers & Pond? - 02/04/13 11:29 PM

Originally Posted by miscrms
IMHO a mirror piano may present a great opportunity for the right buyer.

Buyer? You can get pianos like this for the taking. You can get them intact, preferably.

If a piano has been modified this way, chances are other things were done to it, and the odds are they were done poorly.
Posted By: miscrms

Re: "Boxtop" Ivers & Pond? - 02/04/13 11:52 PM

I'm sure that could be true smile I'd imagine that even mirrorized a good name like I&P if its in relatively good operational condition would be rarer to find free, particularly for someone outside the industry that's just having to wait for what comes along on craigslist. Still shouldn't be more than a few hundred dollars though I'd think. We probably overpaid for ours at $500, but it was worth that to us and was necessary to overcome the previous owners residual sentimental value wink

Posted By: handlebars

Re: "Boxtop" Ivers & Pond? - 02/05/13 12:05 AM

The price on this particular piano stands at $50.

I'm also looking at a 20's or 30's Monarch, and I know there's some association between Monarch and Baldwin. Similar price.
Posted By: miscrms

Re: "Boxtop" Ivers & Pond? - 02/05/13 07:26 PM

Seems like $50 would be pretty hard to beat if its playable and tunable smile

Monarch seems to get a good writeup here:

As you're probably aware, in this price range particularly condition of the internals is key. Most pianos this cheap will have been neglected, and could take many thousands of dollars to put right if its even possible. The trick is finding the few gems hiding amongst them that were of good initial quality, and have been cared for reasonably well over the years.

Its always advisable to have a good tech look over a serious prospect, even if it costs as much as the piano smile After all the work of finding and moving one, it would be sad to find out its basically hopeless/worthless due to a bad pinblock, irreplaceable action parts or what have you.

Posted By: Sam S

Re: "Boxtop" Ivers & Pond? - 02/06/13 01:28 PM

Originally Posted by handlebars
The price on this particular piano stands at $50.

I'm also looking at a 20's or 30's Monarch, and I know there's some association between Monarch and Baldwin. Similar price.

Don't forget to factor in the cost of moving and tuning and repairs and so forth. Your $50 piano could end up costing much, much more...

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