Tuesday, October 16, 2012

thrift store finds: piano

I've mentioned before that I was in love with the idea of an antique piano, but couldn't figure out how to get one home. Even though the last one I found and wanted (badly) was only three blocks away from my house, I figured moving it would be dangerous to attempt alone (even with a team and a truck) and getting someone to move it would be too expensive, so I let that one get away.

Who knew that antique pianos were something that people donated literally all the time? When I saw this one, I had a feeling about it. The mister did not. So we hemmed and hawed for a couple of days. I may have pouted about it a bit; my memory on that subject is a bit hazy.



But you know how this story turns out. In the end, he said if it was important to me, I could bring it home. He's a really good guy and trusted that I'd find a way to make it fit in. And as I mentioned in a previous post, I followed through on that trust, moving furniture, getting rid of a ton of stuff, and basically making a nice new home for my heaviest and most gigantic thrift store find ever.



As a bonus, the mister and the kiddo are both pretty taken with it. It's hard to ignore a thousand pound piano in a room, so I hear them playing it at random times. 



Now, the reasons people donate antique pianos to thrift stores are many and varied. Generally, I think the cost of tuning, repair, and moving probably outweigh the worth of most old pianos. This one was has a serial number in it that indicates it was made in 1906. 1906! Imagine the changes the world has undergone in 106 years. It predates two world wars, women's suffrage, Mt. Rushmore, and Glacier National Park, and was built the same year Teddy Roosevelt became president. Doing pretty well for an old lady. The one chipped key in the photo there is the only dead key (though several need new key tops). It's even mostly in tune.



It was priced at $100, but I had a 20% off coupon, so I paid $80 . . . and then a ridiculous $120 to have it moved three blocks in the back of the piano guy's beat up Datsun pick-up truck. He and a buddy managed to alienate the store staff by showing up an hour before we'd agreed to meet there (me, with purchase receipt in hand) and giving them a hard time until they relented and let him load it up. 

It arrived in mostly decent condition (there's a chip on the back corner, but I couldn't swear that it wasn't there when I bought it). The piano guy even told me it had been a really high-end piano in its day (though of course, the value has almost all disappeared except as raw materials), made of solid mahogany (he thinks) and hand-carved art nouveau details.



There is some major crazing to the finish, but no moth damage to the wool felt on the hammers.



And of course, a large and very heavy amount of solid brass inside. The front flips up to expose the interior, where the cast brass informs you that "Walters pianos are built to last a life time and are unequalled in tone and construction. They have reached the highest pinnacle of perfection and are masterpieces of piano building." This one, clearly, lasted longer than a life time. 



Originally manufactured for and sold by Macy's department stores, this turn-of-the-century piano has been accessorized with a Judy teaching clock from the 1970s, an Ikea dining chair, my Cathrineholm bowl, my old manual camera (purchased in 1994), an old mason jar, Hardy Boys novels, and three yellow lotus bowls, all of which (coincidentally) are thrift store finds. 



Okay. So what's your largest-ever thrift store find? Or your most musical? Or when have you hired a "professional" to do a job, and had that person not seem super-professional after all? Share in the comments section below; I love reading your comments and visiting your blogs.

Thanks for reading!


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p.s. you can make these photos larger just by clicking on them, but you probably already knew that.

5 comments:

spymay said...

Once my dad went to an auction and bought a bunch of pianos in a lot.He didn't have anywhere to put them so he showed up at my house with five pianos and unloaded them onto my driveway.
I thought I was never going to get rid of those things.The market for pianos has gone way down and if you're going to have one that an antique like that one is the way to go.

Night Garden Design said...

Holy moley! Five pianos! Yikes. Yeah, with a toddler in the house, I figured something solid and inexpensive and not-to-precious was the way to go. He can take lessons on it and later in life, if he's interested he can blow his college fund on a $20,000 instrument if he wants. ;)

Protector of Vintage said...

Love the piano!! Last year I sold our seven year old piano and replaced it with the family piano that I grew-up playing. Lots of charm and sentimental value. Have a great day.

Amy - while wearing heels said...

You have me beat by far with the largest thrift store purchase. I think my biggest was a chair? Regardless, I love that you saved this over 100 year old piano. Just imagine all the people throughout the past 100 years that have played at it. And, now your family is adding to the history of this beautiful piano.

Anonymous said...

It's so beautiful, honestly the old uprights are the best, especially when restored because musically and quality wise, you get the most bang for your buck. From what I can see it looks to be in good condition. I would really say you should have it tuned, because it can seriously damage the instrument if it is not kept in proper tune. Even if you just buy a tuning kit on amazon for $20 and download a tuning app can be very good and easy, if the piano itself isnt too fat out of tune, :)One of my pianos now, an 1899 Starr Upright, was not kept in tune 15 years before me and now it needs serious restoration; don't let this beauty die please! :) The Walter Co. made really good pianos, and I hope its kept right because it could be a musical heirloom... despite what others may say. 50 years from now would you wana give your kids some cheap piano or this beautiful looking unique Upright? Anyhow, thats just my say and i love pianos :) Best of Luck With it! -JED