Aug 20, 2012

Tickling the Ivories

I love craigslist.  I will browse it just for fun, just to see what's out there.

A couple of weeks ago I was browsing the antiques section when I came across an ad that read:

Antique piano.  Beautiful 1913 Brewster upright piano.  Good condition.  Asking $25.00 OBO.  Pick up only.

And it came with this picture:

In all its off-centered glory.

Was I looking for a replacement piano?  No.  But this piano looked gorgeous.  And $25??  It seemed too good to be true.

And then this happened.


When we went to take a look at it, we saw that it was indeed in good condition.  Four keys in the lower register had small chips off the ends of the ivory.  One key in the upper register stuck unless it was struck forcefully.  It hadn't been tuned in 10 years or so.  All pretty minor offenses.

Why are piano branding scripts so magical to me??

It had an amazing backstory, as well.  The piano was bought brand new by the current owner's grandmother in 1913.  It was built in Brooklyn.

Serial number and scrollwork.

The grandmother taught piano lessons as her livelihood.  When she had a daughter (the owner's mother), the piano was passed down.  She taught piano lessons as well.  When she had a daughter (the owner), the piano was passed down. 

You can see the color on the black keys has worn from use.

The owner took lessons as a child but never played.  She's kept the piano all her adult life because of its sentimental value.  But she and her husband have a very small house and needed the room so she decided that the time had come to part with it.

I love the detail on the shelf.

She had originally listed it on craigslist for $100.  The piano is likely worth $100-300, but she didn't get any offers.  Every week she lowered the price and every week it went unnoticed by craigslisters.  Until me.

The finish has developed fine cracks over time.  They're invisible from a distance, but the case feels like pebbled leather to the touch.

And the sound!  It should be said that antique pianos usually don't have great sound.  Without proper care there's a million different things that can wreck a piano's sound.  Compound that with nearly 100 years?  Ugh.  But this one sounds lovely.  It needs a proper tuning to be sure, but because this piano has been cared for so well and is so much bigger than the one I grew up playing (the soundboard is a little over a foot longer), it has a very rich, full sound.  At the risk of sounding like a wine snob, I'll even use the adjective throaty. 

A timeless beauty.

Because of its height, classic shape, and beauty, we have no need for a mantel in this space anymore.  The top of the piano will serve.  We love how commanding it is- and elegant at the same time.

And just for comparison's sake, here's the before and after.

It feels like fate.  And looks sooo much better!

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