Antique Pianos

The creation of what is recognized as the modern piano is credited to Bartolomeo Cristofori of Padua, Italy somewhere around the turn of the century, 1698-1700. He solved the problem that the hammer must make contact with the string but not remain in contact, which would deaden the sound.

From the late 18th century to the mid-19th century, the piano made some signficant leaps due to the improvements seen in manufacturing. The Mozart-era 5 octave piano also gave way for 7 1/2 or more octaves during this time as well.

One of the most important innovations was the development of the stronger iron frame which allowed for greater piano wire tensions and greater number of strings. This improvement lead to the sound that we are familiar with in the modern piano.

Many innovations came out of the Steinway firm, including improvements in the felt hammers, overstringing, and duplex scaling.

Piano design periods:

  • Square piano (1700-1840 Europe and until 1890 in the U.S.)
  • Upright grand piano (1805-1840)
  • Modern upright and grand piano (late 19th century and onward)

An abbreviated list of manufacturers follows:

  • Steinway
  • Knape
  • Gibson & Davis
  • Boardman & Gray
  • Taylor & Farley
  • Vose & Sons
  • Starr Piano Company
  • Lester Piano Company
  • Bluthner
  • Hamilton
  • Hobart M. Cable
  • Fischer
  • Hardman & Peck
  • Aeolian

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