Consultation and Documentation

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     A 501(c)3 Non-Profit Corporation    email contact    Donations

        Bill Shull, RPT, M.Mus.  Founder and President

       610 Amigos Dr B1,  Redlands, CA  92373  909 796-4226     PERIOD PIANO CENTER SINCE 2006







For our research service on individual early Knabe, Mason and Hamlin or Steinway pianos, please see the following page on this website:

Knabe, Chickering, Mason and Hamlin and Steinway Research

We welcome submissions of your documentation and data gathering, both by email and as photos and data to the Historical Piano Society

Photo documentation and measurements are especially helpful.  Below is a basic documentation list:


1.  Plan View photographs of top and (if possible) bottom of piano.  Piano is on its side with lid and music desk removed.

Chickering 8'4 30036 plan view 2 optChickering 22163 plan view bottom compr

Steinway Vertical 47263 plan view front comprSteinway 1301 Lorenzo Lacovera compressed

    Alternatively:  If piano cannot, for whatever reason, be placed on its side, mount camera to tripod and position as high as possible above piano for plan view, with lid swung vertically or removed.


    Or, if this is impractical, take photograph of full plate/belly from front of piano, from as high a position as possible.  Other belly angles are also helpful.

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2.  Plan View photographs of the side view of the action.  If possible, unscrew wooden side bracket/frame end piece to achieve clear photo.   Obtain whatever possible photo can be obtained of the side plan view.   Both a closeup of the action stack, and a full photo of the key and stack are helpful.  If the action parts are too obscured, remove whippen and hammer shank, lay out on table with white backdrop, and photograph with parts arranged similar to position in piano.

Steinway 7'2 3372 Action 2 comprSteinway 3372 action plan view compr

3.  Identification: Document (photograph if possible) piano serial number.   On early Steinways this number is often found on the stretcher towards the bass, as well as on the pinblock between the bass and treble  tuning pins.   For some, the serial number can be found on the belly rail in the bass    If no serial number is located, look at cabinet parts and other locations (cheek blocks, base of lid prop, action frame, etc).  Steinway used the serial number as the production number (case number)  until nearly 1900. 

4.  Measure case length at longest point, parallel to spline/square to keyboard, in standard and metric (cm).  Use a plumb or other method to insure accurate reading at front of keybed;  measure to end of lid overhand in back.   If leg extends beyond this point, perform a second measurement to farthest leg point.

5.  Photograph interior of action cavity, including damper action and related components, as well as belly structure and components.

6.  Identify keyboard compass with musical notation and measurement

7.  Photograph full piano, including where possible:

Centennial Steinway Sprague Mansion 40859 compr

complete case from front (keyboard), music desk in place

front from spline side

front from treble corner, lid up, music desk removed. 

from tail towards tuning pins, music desk removed.

9.  Photograph fallboard nameplate (decal, brass inlay)

10.  Name casting on plate and/or soundboard (take sufficient photographs to accurately capture all decals, writing and identification)

11.  Where it exists, photograph action identification label and/or case identification label, often found in action cavity or on action bracket.

 12.  Photograph entire action from front, side, rear;  note if original keys, wippens, shanks/butts and flanges, hammers, capstans or stickers.

13.  Measure string speaking lengths.    At the least, measure the speaking lengths of the highest note, and the top three C’s.   Where possible complete all C’s, and identify and measure the notes at the top and bottom of each scale section.   Where possible measure the speaking lengths of all strings.

Optimize photos down to 100-300k size and email with data to EMAIL CONTACT



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Chickering Cocked Hat 22199 3 compr doc