Piano, Organ, and Keyboard/Upright Piano

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QUESTION: In November 2008 a question titled, "Piano, Organ, and Keyboard/Francis Bacon Piano" was published on this site.  I have the same style Francis Bacon piano with the same dimensions (See photo 1). The serial number is 268505. My husband's grandfather worked for Paramount studios. We were told it was a studio piano for the Casablanca movie, but ours is not the beautiful viridian green color; it seems to be a very dirty yellow green color. What is the current estimated value? What is an estimated cost to restore it? What is the original wood color without the paint? What year was it manufactured? Is this considered a studio or upright piano?

ANSWER: Hi Clara:

The serial number: 268505 suggests a manufacturing date of 1932 when Kohler and Campbell was building the pianos for the Bacon Company.

The current value is in the low hundreds if it is in working condition and can be serviced.

The estimated cost to restore the piano, if in fact we are talking inside and out would be over 25,000.00. This would mean a new: soundboard, pin block, bridges, action, and refinishing. This is hardly cost effective. Careful here, for every dollar you put into this piano, you may get a nickel back. Don't listen to restorers, they will tell you anything to get into your wallet.

I can only guess here, but the veneer under the green paint is most likely mahogany.

If my count is correct there are 36 white keys which means this is the "apartment" or "Tom Thumb" sized piano. It is neither a real studio nor upright which would have 52 white keys. However, the "studio" would be about 48 inches from the floor, and the full upright around 50+ inches.

The fact that it was a Paramount used piano adds no value unless you can document its use and it was a "collector's" item.

I hope that was helpful.



---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks the information. My husband was told by his parents that the piano was sold to my husband's grandfather from Little Jack Little who used it touring. Does this add anything to the value and how could it be researched?

Answer
Hi Clara:

The research would be tough. There would have to be documentation that the piano:

1. belonged to Jack Little (serial number with invoice and his name on it)
2. Was indeed sold to your husband's grandfather
3. The bill of sale
4. pictures.

Then, someone would have to know who that British born American composer was, and really want that piano.

The short answer is: Bill of sale first, heirloom value second.  

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Ralph Onesti

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I am a Registered/tested member of the Piano Technicians Guild (RPT) with 49 years of experience in all phases and levels of the acoustic piano. I will answer any questions regarding acoustic pianos only. All questions and answers are to remain public. Please to not include sensitive material! If they are marked private, I will change them to public. My answers may be of assistance to others. If privacy is an issue, please contact me through my web site: http://www.onestipiano.com Electronic keyboards, organs, and player/reproducing piano mechanisms are outside of my expertise. Anything to do with: Construction, Service, Tuning, Climate Control Systems, Piano Disc, Purchasing, Selling, Insurance Appraisal, Rebuilding, Repairs, Legal issues, Maintenance, Environmental issues, Finish issues with acoustic pianos. My full resume can be found at: http://onestipiano.com/pages/history.html You can like us on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/onestipianoservice

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In business since 1964, Extensive Rebuilding/Repair/Service facility. A certified, tested, member of the Piano Technicians Guild, Member of the Technical Advisory Service to Attorneys. Have performed piano service on Concert Stage, Recording Studios, and in the home. Http://www.onestipiano.com. The shop's work comes from all over the world from private clients or other techncians.

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The Piano Technicians Guild, Master Piano Technicians of America, Technical Advisory Service to Attorneys. (TASA), IAPBT. The Piano Technicians Guild is the only organization in the US that offers a certification test to become Registered. There are no "factory authorized techncians".

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The Piano Technicians Journal

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Attented Temple University, Drexel University, Philadelphia Community college all in the areas of engineering and Music. I taught a two semester course in Piano Technology and the related acoustical physics at Temple University. I have taught extensively for the Piano Technicians Guild and the Master Piano Technicians of America.

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Service Award for the Rose Tree Media School District in Pennsylvania. Chapter Award from the Philadelphia Chapter of the Piano Technicians Guild.

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The list is rather extensive. I would suggest you go http://onestipiano.com/pages/testimonials.html where there is a comprehensive list of clients past and present.

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