GRADING VINTAGE UPRIGHT PIANOS


There is a tremendous interest in anything and everything historical or nostalgic.  This interest extends  to the musical instruments of the past. Yes,  there  is a "market" for good used upright pianos [which are extremely hard to find, especially those that are worth reconditioning at considerable cost].  You can find  the year  your piano was made and the manufacturer  in most cases. The age of your piano is determined by the serial number. The serial number is for the first piano made in the year shown. You can find the serial number on the inside of your piano on the iron frame near the top of the strings and tuning pins. Look up the serial number then come back here and find your piano's age and  brand name on this page. There is no cost or obligation to this service. 

There are times when your piano or number is not listed. We can help you find the year your piano was made and the manufacturer  in most cases. If you are unable to find your piano we can research it for you. There is no cost or obligation to this service. Please send us the name and serial number of your piano.

Piano Age and    Maker Research

For the current value of your piano click here to order an appraisal


Here is an Upright Piano Grading Guide for your information. 

GRADE I

Plain piano in every aspect. Square legs, usually tapered. Sides of piano are flat, edges are square. Relatively little molding, simple and uncluttered appearance. Some considered mission period. Circa 1913 to 1927.

GRADE II

Nicely styled cabinet. Stylish round legs but sometimes square and fluted. Molding is often stylish. Sometimes piano side front edges are curved but usually square. Molding around lid or glass [optional] may he carved. Always stylish some mission style cabinets fall into this Grade when they are augmented by legs that rise above the key bed and cheek blocks to be capped with small pyramid shapes. 

GRADE III

Possesses all the qualities of grade II but contains carving on the front around the [optional] stained glass area. Grade III pianos usually have marked elegance and style with carving on top sides of leg portions. They may have nice molding on the side of the piano with carved pieces at the top of the molding. Usually will have a 3" molding skirt around the bottom of the piano but not always. Circa 1893 - 1908 

*GRADE IV

All the qualities of grade III but much more pronounced and extensive carving. Excellent Condition - Sometimes carved on all surfaces of the piano. A very rare cabinet usually custom built by famous furniture manufacturers for very wealthy customers who actually took them a new piano and had them construct a new cabinet. Gustav Stickly was one furniture maker who did this. Only about one of 1000 pianos will be like this. Carved ladies, lions, faces and extensive flowers will elevate a would be grade III to this level. These cabinets are usually Mahogany since that was the choice wood of the day. Circa 1875 to 1905. 

GRADE V


Weber Upright Piano, New York 1876

This piano's case features elaborate carving, inlay, and Marquetry created by the famous New York cabinetmakers, Herter Brothers. Albert Weber emerged as a new rival of Steinway in the 1870s and created this piano especially for the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia.

 

*NOTE:

Pianos with key covers that lift are automatically reduced one grade. A key cover should fold up and back in two pieces. Extra small pianos below 52" in height deduct 1 grade point. Most 1 piece fallboard pianos are small, therefore deduct two points. Most 1 piece fallboard pianos are circa 1875-1895 and are Victorian by nature. One may assume they are grade IV pianos but they are usually of inferior construction to the larger later pianos. Most pianos before 1915 can he considered antiques since they do not resemble contemporary styles and truly reflect the creative attitudes of the Victorian Era. Pianos after World War 1 are usually plain and valued for their musical qualities alone. Extra Pilasters on top-usually 4, or extra legs usually 4 or 6 can elevate a grade 1 point if it is nicely done.

"Upright Grand",  "Cabinet Grand" or "Inverted Grand" are terms usually referring to certain large 50" + upright pianos  and taller. Due to their towering height, these instruments usually had string lengths and musical capabilities equal and often superior to actual grand pianos, thus being labeled "Upright Grand", "Cabinet Grand" or "Inverted Grand" by their manufactures.

Special name brands can elevate a piano 1 grade. Some of the names are; Acrosonic, Hardman Peck, Aldrich, Kohler & Campbell, Everett, Janssen,  Bush and Gerts, Bush and Lane, Beckwith, Neuman, Cunningham, Shoninger, Weber, Wing and Son, Crown, Chickering Bros., Steinway, Baldwin, Cremona, Coinola, Lindeman & Sons, Strause, Baldwin, Hamilton, Wurlitzer, Lester, Cable, Chickering, Knabe, Mason & Hamlin, Krakauer, and Kranich & Bach.  Condition is the key to the value.

Piano values vary with condition, age, type of wood, style and the piano market conditions in the area you live in. Rare and collectible items appreciate and it is not necessarily the age in  years that best determine the accurate valuation,  but more over the quality of current information and research that is used. Due to the instrument's 11,000 parts; such as different kinds of wood, wool, cloth, iron, buckskin, glues, and finish,  the amount service that it has received, and how much the piano has been played.

DESCRIPTION OF CONDITIONS

MINT - R&R (Rebuilt and Refinished)
A R&R instrument rating means that the instrument looks great, plays great is in excellent mechanical condition and needs no reconditioning. It should look new in every respect.
Condition: Brand New, absolutely unmarred, all original and unused.

LIKE NEW - REFURB (Refurbished)

A Refurb instrument rating means that the instrument looks great, plays great is in excellent mechanical condition and needs no reconditioning. It should pass all inspections
Condition: Free of any blemishes, nicks or scratches; original condition throughout; very little sign of use.

EXCELLENT

A excellent instrument rating means that the instrument looks great, is in excellent mechanical condition and needs no reconditioning. It should pass all inspections. The string compartment should be clean. The finish is free of any wear or visible defects. There is no rust.
Condition: Minute nicks or scratches; no dents or rust.

VERY GOOD (VG)

A very good rating means that the piano is free of any major defects. Many pianos owned by consumers fall into this category. The finish will have only minor blemishes (if any), and there are no major mechanical problems.
Condition: Few scratches; exceptionally clean; no dents or rust.

GOOD

A good piano may need some reconditioning to be sold at retail, but any major reconditioning should be deducted from the value.
Condition: Scratches, small dents, dirty.

FAIR

A fair instrument rating means that the piano probably has some mechanical defects, but is still in operating condition. The finish and/or interior usually need professional repair to make the instrument salable.
Condition: Well-scratched, chipped, dented, rusted or warped condition.

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