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Chickering Parlor Grande mid 1800's needs help! (Read 1106 times)

Offline plaidabby

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Chickering Parlor Grande mid 1800's needs help!
« on: September 27, 2016, 07:02:54 PM »
I am looking for someone who would like to learn how to restore an old Chickering Parlor Grande piano.It has been in my family since the late 1940's.My mother got it from a family in Mass. who got it as a wedding present in 1880's. Rosewood outside. Has been worked on in 1974 with restorer from Smithsonian. Since then has lived in Canada and now new Mexico for 30 years. I have had it looked at by a professional piano examiner from Santa Fe who basically said that the sound board is for the wood pile as are the keys (not ivory) strings, dampers etc etc. Will take $20,000 to restore. I have since had a serious hearing loss which has made it almost impossible to play anymore. I cannot just toss this piano out, it has sentimental value to me if nothing else. I am willing to give away to the right person or need suggestions. :)
margaret

Offline indianajo

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Re: Chickering Parlor Grande mid 1800's needs help!
«Reply #1 on: September 28, 2016, 02:34:13 AM »
However much sentimental value it has, and however nice the furniture in front looks, it is an old upright.  
Old uprights are worth almost nothing due to the high cost of moving them.  The Louisville moving service using a free advertising service will not touch them.  They weigh over 400 lb typically.  In the southern UK, there is a charge for the government to carry them away and dispose of them.  
While I will tune old uprights for friends, and occasionally enjoy playing them, I much prefer moving 300 lb console pianos.  
$2000 seems too much to spend on one of these, much less $20000.  1880 is not a particularly historically significant year for piano production.  Chickering is a good brand name, but I wouldn't spend $200 on it personally. Definitely a bad sound board is not worth replacing for an instrument to be played.  This model is not that special.
I've played a 1905 no-name upright recently, that sounded fine.  The owner told me the local Y***** dealer under their "vintage" name offered to "restore" it for $2000.  Other then tuning, I couldn't hear anything wrong with it.  The one string two string three string tones matched nicely.  So voicing wasn't the problem. I can't fathom what service what the pro was planning to do. finish stripping and reapplication perhaps?  Some uprights get clevises in the action that come unglued, but many uprights go stoutly to the dump with everything still working properly.  
I hope for your needs you find the right recipient in New Mexico with the basic skills to learn to repair this.  But a piano that needs a soundboard is definitely not a project for a novice without a lot of woodshop equipment.  I'd like an old upright to play ragtime on, because of the unique sound, but not this one.  
Sorry about the bad news.  

Offline huaidongxi

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Re: Chickering Parlor Grande mid 1800's needs help!
«Reply #2 on: September 28, 2016, 07:19:50 PM »
Indianajo, the term 'parlor grande'(sic) usually refers to full size grand pianos approx. 6'4 in. to 8 ft., sometimes pianos in this range are also called 'semi-concert'. have not seen the term applied to an upright, but conventional categories might have only tenuous application to pianos >130 years old.  Chickering was successful enough by the war between the states (part of its factory building used to set up the manufacture of Spencer repeating rifles during the war) that the founder of Steinway copied and imitated some of their techniques. we have neither a precise chronology (chickering one of the oldest manufacturers) nor photo of the instrument in question to know for certain what configuration or size this piano has.  pianos this old generally attract investors for a full restoration if they have unique cabinet decoration and ornamentation, or historic value by association with famous personalities, or represent something unique in the technical evolution of the piano.  if it was a wedding present in 1880 and was brand new at that time, its age would not make it uniquely rare.  piano manufacturing in the u.s. and europa was just starting its golden age with serious numbers getting produced.

Offline indianajo

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Re: Chickering Parlor Grande mid 1800's needs help!
«Reply #3 on: September 29, 2016, 11:55:42 PM »
At least a third of the old uprights advertised for sale here have "parlor grande" "cabinet grande" or some other euphemism cast into the frame.  This is the USA and accuracy in nomenclature was not maintained by the FTC before the sixties, and probably never was for pianos. 
So whether this is a vertical or horizontal piano, I'm tending to believe it is vertical until shown a picture.
Anyway, old horizontal grands from second tier manufacturers are starting to go for $100-400 around here, or "free, haul it away".  The cost of moving one is again a barrier to their being accepted for donation by the charity resale shops.  A chickering horizontal action might be worth salvaging, but a shell with a bad soundboard, I'm tend to think not. 

Offline plaidabby

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Re: Chickering Parlor Grande mid 1800's needs help!
«Reply #4 on: September 30, 2016, 03:52:44 PM »
Thank you for your reply. It is a horizontal piano with great carved legs, music stand etc. I am realistic enough to know that it isn't worth repairing especially with me losing part of my lower range hearing. I really want to find a person who wants to rip apart an old piano to try putting it back together again.
margaret

Offline dogperson

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Re: Chickering Parlor Grande mid 1800's needs help!
«Reply #5 on: September 30, 2016, 04:03:09 PM »
Thank you for your reply. It is a horizontal piano with great carved legs, music stand etc. I am realistic enough to know that it isn't worth repairing especially with me losing part of my lower range hearing. I really want to find a person who wants to rip apart an old piano to try putting it back together again.

sending you a PM

Offline huaidongxi

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Re: Chickering Parlor Grande mid 1800's needs help!
«Reply #6 on: September 30, 2016, 07:50:15 PM »
Margaret, you noted that the piano saw restoration in 1974 while it was in your family's possession. do you happen to have the documentation from that work ? it might be useful for the next restorer. curious as to why the keys are not ivory, but if they were redone in '74 that would explain it.  good luck with your quest to a new home for the piano.