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I'm so excited to have found this forum! I need some objective advice from fellow piano-lovers...
I inherited my father's Chickering & Sons 109C Grand piano when he passed a few years ago. My dad purchased this piano years before I was born, and it has always been a huge presence in my home and in my life. I learned to play on this piano, and my dad played "gigs" on it in his retirement years. But now I find myself at a crossroads. We are moving from our large family home to our downsized empty-nest. Finding room for the piano will be tricky, at best. However, I'm disheartened by the selling prices out there these days; Dad always said his piano was worth more than 50k, but I'm seeing prices as low as a few thousand.

So, this looooong post is mainly to ask: Is it worth it to sell a piece of my memories? Or am I being too sentimental? Any advice is appreciated!

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Replying to add photos now that I think I know how to do that

[img]http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/3162768/carlys-chickering-grand.html#Post3162768[/img]

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Welcome to the forum, Carly. I don't know if I can help much with your questions, but let me throw another question at you: If you kept this piano (or had some other piano), would you play it?

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It appears to be well preserved. But the pictures tell me nothing about how it feels and sounds.

I am almost certain the finish is not original. The antique white looks passable, but would not appeal to many pianists.

I suggest you get a piano technician to inspect the piano so you have a better idea of condition.

If the piano plays and sounds really good and will hold tune well you may find a buyer near $10K. But most likely you would not be able to get more than $5K.

If the piano needs any replacement of parts or structural repairs, the value is maybe $1K.

If you are in a remote area with few pianists, you probably can't even give the piano away.


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This forum is supposed to be about pianos, not chickens.

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This piano has seen some restoration, so its quality and value will depend on that. You should have a local technician who is familiar with the local market evaluate it for you. That person should be able to tell you what is realistic in terms of the possibility of disposing of it, and how much you could expect to get for it.


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Sentimental value is priceless...

Letting go is a difficult move. When my father passed away, I had a whole house of memory objects to deal with, including two (upright) pianos. We could definitely not keep everything, not even 10% of them, perhaps not even 5%.

After much hesitation, we discarded or gave away most of them. Years passed by, and we are still discarding objects, one by one.

Of the two pianos, we gave one (very old Pleyel) and kept the newer. A few years later, we acquired a nice (to us) grand pianos. The family piano (Soviet era Weinbach) has finally been sold for a low three figure number. It feels like we turned a page.

All these words to say: How can one put a value on a sentimental object?

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My advice is if you do decide to sell, allow ample time to market it before your move. You can sell the piano only if there is a buyer - you don't want worry about that when time is ticking.


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Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
It appears to be well preserved. But the pictures tell me nothing about how it feels and sounds.

I am almost certain the finish is not original. The antique white looks passable, but would not appeal to many pianists.

I suggest you get a piano technician to inspect the piano so you have a better idea of condition.

If the piano plays and sounds really good and will hold tune well you may find a buyer near $10K. But most likely you would not be able to get more than $5K.

If the piano needs any replacement of parts or structural repairs, the value is maybe $1K.

If you are in a remote area with few pianists, you probably can't even give the piano away.

Ed is, of course, correct, especially about the finish color. Most piano buyers want an ebony or maybe a "natural" wood finish. White pianos can be difficult to market, even if the piano itself is in outstanding condition.

What I notice in the photos is the very long backscale on the bass bridge. I don't think I've ever seen a piano bridge with that sort of placement, but I have heard that placing the bass bridge farther back from the rim can have sonic benefits. Chickering enthusiasts probably know this model well, but that really struck me.

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Welcome to PW Carly!

Quote
We are moving from our large family home to our downsized empty-nest. Finding room for the piano will be tricky, at best. However, I'm disheartened by the selling prices out there these days; Dad always said his piano was worth more than 50k, but I'm seeing prices as low as a few thousand.

So, this looooong post is mainly to ask: Is it worth it to sell a piece of my memories? Or am I being too sentimental? Any advice is appreciated!

So I think your question is so hard because it's several questions all tangled up together. It might help to consider them separately, but the whole is greater than the sum of parts, and so something gets lost in the process.... Nevertheless, here's a stab at it....

1. Considering sentimental value, should you sell the piano or keep it? Here I think the question comes down to whether you'll play it or not. If you never play the piano, and it takes up a big chunk of space in a smaller home, eventually you find that the sentimentality is replaced by annoyance. If that's the case, you should sell it now.

2. Considering the quality of the instrument, should you sell it or keep it? This question assumes that you play the piano regularly. If yes, then you might consider a few options: would you enjoy playing this piano more, or could you get similar enjoyment from playing a smaller piano (grand, upright or even digital, or hybrid) that fits better with your space concerns? If you really love how this piano plays, keep it. If you're not sure, visit some dealers and see if you prefer other pianos. If so, there's your answer.

3. Does the piano fit with your new, downsized lifestyle? This question is meant to make you consider what you gain or lose depending on whether you keep the piano or not. Say you keep it. Does that mean your housing costs will be higher than they otherwise would be? Or maybe does it mean that you wouldn't be able to do some things in the new home (like entertaining) because the piano takes up too much space? Or could you downsize but still have room for the piano without making compromises? If the latter, then keep the piano.

4. Considering how much the piano might sell for compared to how much you think (or wish) it is worth, should you sell the piano or keep it? I put this question last because I think it's actually the question that probably needs to be let go of. The piano seems like it's worth a lot to you for a whole bunch of reasons -- and I don't mean this in a disparaging way, we would all feel the same in your position. What I mean is, you know that the piano was very expensive when purchased, was a great instrument for many years, your father put a big dollar figure on its value, and it has sentimental value. All of these details kind of settle into our bones and become part of the fabric of how we see the world. This makes it actually painful to think of selling the piano for less than this perceived value. When this happens, there's a tendency to think, well, since I can't sell it for what it's worth, then I should just keep it.

But! If the answers to questions 1 through 3 push you towards selling the piano, then question number 4 should become irrelevant. If it's better for you to not have this piano (whether because of space considerations, or because you want a newer piano etc.), then don't worry about whether you can sell the piano "for what it's worth." Instead note that your lifestyle and this piano no longer fit together and it's time to say goodbye to a long-cherished friend. And that's ok.

So, this became much longer than I expected! whome

I will end with one thought. If you keep the piano, that alone will cost you financially. You'll need to pay to have it moved, have it tuned and maintained etc.

If you sell the piano, regardless of whether you sell it for an amount that you feel is appropriate, you will not have the above expenditures.

As you can see, my line of questioning is pushing you toward selling the piano. I understand the sentimental attachment, but I think if it's a piano that isn't getting played daily, than that attachment might better be thought of as the attachment we have to an old family home. When it's time to downsize, we know we need to move and we can't take the home with us. Replace home with piano. When it's time to downsize, you can't take the super large piano with you. It's painful to say goodbye, but just as with the old family home, you can find a way to say goodbye to the piano.

Ok, sorry, I will end with one more thought. grin

If, as you're reading this, your whole self is screaming at me, then you should probably keep the piano.

Good luck!

Last edited by ShiroKuro; 10/09/21 09:53 AM.

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Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
Welcome to PW Carly!

Quote
We are moving from our large family home to our downsized empty-nest. Finding room for the piano will be tricky, at best. However, I'm disheartened by the selling prices out there these days; Dad always said his piano was worth more than 50k, but I'm seeing prices as low as a few thousand.

So, this looooong post is mainly to ask: Is it worth it to sell a piece of my memories? Or am I being too sentimental? Any advice is appreciated!

So I think your question is so hard because it's several questions all tangled up together. It might help to consider them separately, but the whole is greater than the sum of parts, and so something gets lost in the process.... Nevertheless, here's a stab at it....

1. Considering sentimental value, should you sell the piano or keep it? Here I think the question comes down to whether you'll play it or not. If you never play the piano, and it takes up a big chunk of space in a smaller home, eventually you find that the sentimentality is replaced by annoyance. If that's the case, you should sell it now.

2. Considering the quality of the instrument, should you sell it or keep it? This question assumes that you play the piano regularly. If yes, then you might consider a few options: would you enjoy playing this piano more, or could you get similar enjoyment from playing a smaller piano (grand, upright or even digital, or hybrid) that fits better with your space concerns? If you really love how this piano plays, keep it. If you're not sure, visit some dealers and see if you prefer other pianos. If so, there's your answer.

3. Does the piano fit with your new, downsized lifestyle? This question is meant to make you consider what you gain or lose depending on whether you keep the piano or not. Say you keep it. Does that mean your housing costs will be higher than they otherwise would be? Or maybe does it mean that you wouldn't be able to do some things in the new home (like entertaining) because the piano takes up too much space? Or could you downsize but still have room for the piano without making compromises? If the latter, then keep the piano.

4. Considering how much the piano might sell for compared to how much you think (or wish) it is worth, should you sell the piano or keep it? I put this question last because I think it's actually the question that probably needs to be let go of. The piano seems like it's worth a lot to you for a whole bunch of reasons -- and I don't mean this in a disparaging way, we would all feel the same in your position. What I mean is, you know that the piano was very expensive when purchased, was a great instrument for many years, your father put a big dollar figure on its value, and it has sentimental value. All of these details kind of settle into our bones and become part of the fabric of how we see the world. This makes it actually painful to think of selling the piano for less than this perceived value. When this happens, there's a tendency to think, well, since I can't sell it for what it's worth, then I should just keep it.

But! If the answers to questions 1 through 3 push you towards selling the piano, then question number 4 should become irrelevant. If it's better for you to not have this piano (whether because of space considerations, or because you want a newer piano etc.), then don't worry about whether you can sell the piano "for what it's worth." Instead note that your lifestyle and this piano no longer fit together and it's time to say goodbye to a long-cherished friend. And that's ok.

So, this became much longer than I expected! whome

I will end with one thought. If you keep the piano, that alone will cost you financially. You'll need to pay to have it moved, have it tuned and maintained etc.

If you sell the piano, regardless of whether you sell it for an amount that you feel is appropriate, you will not have the above expenditures.

As you can see, my line of questioning is pushing you toward selling the piano. I understand the sentimental attachment, but I think if it's a piano that isn't getting played daily, than that attachment might better be thought of as the attachment we have to an old family home. When it's time to downsize, we know we need to move and we can't take the home with us. Replace home with piano. When it's time to downsize, you can't take the super large piano with you. It's painful to say goodbye, but just as with the old family home, you can find a way to say goodbye to the piano.

Ok, sorry, I will end with one more thought. grin

If, as you're reading this, your whole self is screaming at me, then you should probably keep the piano.

Good luck!

"So, this became much longer than I expected". smile !

Yea, but it was a good read, Dr. ShiroKuro! smile

I've been following this thread but haven't posted (until now). As for how much you can sell the Chickering grand for, you could always test the waters and advertise it for sale at the higher end of your price range thoughts and see what happens. If you don't get any responses, you'll know the asking price was too high.

Next, you could lower the price in increments as time goes on, or add "OBO" to your ad. But this process could take a long time, which shouldn't matter if the amount of time the piano is housed at your new home doesn't matter.

This is neither here nor there, but when I decide to sell something, or buy something, I always research similar items for sale and get a good "ball park" range of prices. That always helps to get an idea of the current "market" for a particular item.

Good luck!

Rick


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The 109C is one of the best pianos of that quality from that era. They are not at all uncommon -- I've seen three for sale cheap, in various stages of disrepair, in this area (Cincinnati - Dayton). (One was at an antique mall in Cinci. The action was jammed.) If you play, yes, it is worth keeping and even putting some money into restoration. A modern upright will cost about the same as rebuilding the action and restringing (which may not be necessary). Of course, an upright may fit better in your house.

If you don't play the piano, it's kind of large and awkward to be kept for sentiment alone. I agree that the only way to determine the market value is to offer it for sale and lower the price in steps. I would be surprised if you got $10,000 for it.

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BTW I meant to ask, how old is the piano?


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I rather like the finish myself, it is interesting and different. smile

Certainly you should have a qualified technician help with estimating the worth of your piano. If it turns out to be of little financial value and/or too difficult to sell, you might consider keeping just a part of it (perhaps the lovely filigreed music desk) for a sentimental keepsake, and disposing of the rest. I believe others on the forum have done that before.


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If you have a close family member who would appreciate the piano, why not give the piano to that person? It keeps the piano with someone you know will enjoy it, and since it remains in the family, you will not be entirely giving it up.

It was not clear from the original post whether you continue to play the piano. As you are downsizing, it seems possible you may be retiring in the near future? Or that you have recently retired? There are a number of people on these fora who returned to playing after retiring, or ramped up practice once they retired, or learned to play after retiring. It is possible that a piano will bring you a great deal of fulfillment during retirement. If this is a possibility, the question is whether your Chickering is the piano you want to play, or if you’d be more inspired by a newer piano. So depending on the piano and your inclinations, this could argue either for keeping the piano or divesting.

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There are fewer folk who like a white grand than there are of those who greatly prefer black. However, the trend is somewhat counterbalanced because many who love a white piano will not look at any other finish. It may be that our OP already understands this, from a lifetime of having had a white piano.

On the other hand, the right price has a way of evening out any other pluses and minuses. No one likes to be taken to the cleaners, but the simple truth is that pianos do not appreciate with the years; they go down in value similarly as an automobile depreciates with age and mileage. It just takes pianos a lot longer to fall in value, compared to a car. You might say, 50 years to arrive where a car will get to at 15.

I agree with the advice to hire a tech to inspect this piano for condition, and to appraise it for its fair value in your local market. If a sale is decided on, it can't hurt to show it with a fresh tuning and any little quirks seen to. The way it is presented will help set the right tone, and will help attract a buyer you will feel happy with.


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In its first 30-40 years of life this was an awesome instrument. But since the design lifespan is actually 30-40 years (meaning that major components are significantly worn and some are simply on the down side of "over the hill" and getting worse), it is actually quite elderly. With Chickering, the major issues are usually with the action. Today, replacement parts are far more available th an 30 years ago. Still, it's costly since there are 88 of everything.

I can assure you that your dad is not watching and evaluating your every move regarding the piano...he is simply resting. So basically it is just another old piano th at needs to find a new home. You must come to grips with that. His assessment of $50k is a reflection of a bygone era. It never was and never will be worth that or anywhere near it. It is a big, not terribly attractive (in today's market) old piano. Plain and simple.

Sorry to be blunt but that's just the way it is. If no money to restore it and room to use it and enjoy it...move it on, one way or another.

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Oh my goodness, I am so humbled and grateful for the constructive replies! To answer some of your questions:

1.) Do I still play the piano on a regular basis? No. Certainly not as often as I could, should, or would, if life in general wasn't so hectic. And, I'm still about 10-15 years away from retirement, so that won't change anytime soon.

2.) Is the quality of the piano as a whole worth keeping it? Somewhat. Fortunately, my father babied his Grand (pun intended :D) and had it regularly maintained and tuned. My understanding is that it was fully restored at some point; however, I do not claim ANY level of expertise in the mechanics and/or functioning of these beautiful instruments. For me, this alone wouldn't be a reason to keep it.

3.) How old is the piano? I believe it was manufactured circa 1897, so approx 125 years old.

4.) Several replies referred to my piano as "natural", "white", or "antique white". Not that it matters, but it is actually a golden-yellow finish. My photos may not accurately portray this.

Apologies for the long reply, but in weighing your advice, you all have helped me arrive at my decision. I am first going to offer to give the piano to one of my many family members who play (guess it runs in the family!), with the caveat that they will pay for the move and/or any necessary repairs/restoration. If none of my kin bites, I am then going to offer it for sale to the gen pub for a reasonable price, likely $5k or less. (Anyone here interested, LOL!)

I can't thank you all enough for caring about my situation! This is a fantastic resource for the aficionado and casual piano lover alike!

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Thanks for letting us all know of your decision, Carly. If I were in your position, I think I would have done the same thing. In the future, if you decide to take up the piano again, there are plenty of good pianos that fit better in smaller spaces.


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