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Wurlitzer Company Records

Creator:
Rudolph Wurlitzer Company  Search this
Names:
All-American Mohawk Company  Search this
Apollo Piano Company  Search this
Beach-Carlisle Violin Company  Search this
Caldwell Piano Company  Search this
Central Discount Company  Search this
Dayton Photo Products Company  Search this
DeKalb Piano Company  Search this
Dekleist Musical Instruments Company  Search this
Deutsch Wurlitzer  Search this
Eagle Radio Company  Search this
Everett Piano Company  Search this
Fox Theatres Corporation  Search this
Lyric Piano Company  Search this
Milner Music Company  Search this
Morsatti, Inc.  Search this
North Tonawanda Barrel Organ Company  Search this
Robert L. Loud Music Company  Search this
Rudolph Wurlitzer Company  Search this
Southern Ohio Radio Corporation  Search this
Western Industries Corporation  Search this
Wunderlich Piano Company  Search this
Wurlbild Corporation  Search this
Wurlitzer Acceptance Corporation  Search this
Wurlitzer Company  Search this
Wurlitzer Company of California  Search this
Wurlitzer Grand Piano Company  Search this
Youngstown Music Company  Search this
Rolfing, R.C.  Search this
Wurlitzer, Farny  Search this
Wurlitzer, Rembert  Search this
Wurlitzer, Rudolph  Search this
Extent:
56 Cubic feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Minute books
Account books
Financial records
Stock records
Reports
Advertisements
Sales records
Audits
Cashbooks
Ledgers (account books)
Annual reports
Photographs
Journals (accounts)
Price lists
Trade catalogs
Publications
Employee records
Marketing records
Commercial catalogs
Place:
DeKalb (Ill.)
North Tonawanda (N.Y.)
Corinth (Miss.)
Cincinnati (Ohio)
Date:
1860-1984
Summary:
The collection documents the history and development of the Wurlitzer Company and consists of company publications, business records, employee files, manufacturing records, sales and marketing records, product information, publicity, advertising, photographs, audiovisual materials, and organ installation drawings.
Scope and Contents:
The collection documents the history and the development of the Wurlitzer Company. Materials include company publications, business records, employee files, manufacturing records, sales and marketing records, product information, publicity, advertising, photographs, audiovisual materials, and organ installation drawings. The material in the collection spans from 1856-1986, although information prior to 1899 is sparse.
Arrangement:
The Collection is arranged into fourteen series.

Series 1: Wurlitzer Company Histories, Company Events, and General Business Materials, circa 1880-1987; undated

Series 2: Publications, 1910-1989; undated

Series 3: Advertising and Promotional Materials, 1911-1978

Series 4: Product Information, 1860-1984; undated

Series 5: Photographs of Wurlitzer Manufacturing Plants, Employees, Stores, and Dealerships, 1869-1970; undated

Series 6: Photographs of Wurlitzer Products and Product Sales Promotions, 1900-1978; undated

Series 7, Photographs Used in Wurlitzer Advertising and Public Relations, 1904-1970; undated

Series 8: Wurlitzer Employee Records and Related Materials, 1909-1961; undated

Series 9: Production and Shipping Records, 1905-1987

Series 10: Shipping and Sales Records for Wurlitzer Dealerships, Wurlitzer Retail Stores, and Rembert Wurlitzer, Incorporated, 1917-1952

Series 11, Records of Stock Certificates, Meeting Minutes, and Related Financial and Legal Documents, 1907-1972

Series 12, Rudolph Wurlitzer Company Financial Records, 1893-1986

Series 13, Maps and Charts, 1931-1976

Series 14, Organ Installation Drawings, 1920-1931; undated
Historical Note:
The Wurlitzer Company began in 1856 when Rudolph Wurlitzer, a Cincinnati bank clerk, sold seven hundred dollars worth of musical instruments he had bought from family and friends in Germany. The busi¬ness was incorporated in Ohio in 1890 under the name the Ru¬dolph Wurlitzer Company." For the first fifty years, Wurlitzer was primarily a retail instrument business operating out of its Cincinnati Store headquarters. Although fire destroyed the com¬pany's headquarters in 1904, a new building was completed in time to celebrate Wurlitzer's fiftieth anniversary in 1906.

In 1908, the Wurlitzer Company bought the DeKleist Musical In¬strument Manufacturing Company in North Tonawanda, New York. The Rudolph Wurlitzer Manufacturing Company continued produc¬tion of automatic musical instruments including player pianos, military bands and pianorchestras. In 1910, the Wurlitzer Company bought the Hope-Jones Organ Company and began to manufacture unit-or¬chestra pipe organs at their North Tonawanda plant. These were pipe organs equipped with bells, gongs, horns and sirens. They became known as Mighty Wurlitzers and provided the musical back¬ground in silent movie houses all over the world and were also built for churches and private homes. In 1919, Wurlitzer bought the Melville-Clark Piano Company of DeKalb, Illinois. Wurlitzer pianos were then manufactured at the DeKalb facilities under a variety of names: the Apollo Piano Company, the DeKalb Piano Company and the Wurlitzer Grand Piano Company. Each name des¬ignated a different quality, price range and style.

With the decline of sales during the 1920s and 1930s, pro¬duction of automatic musical instruments ceased until the manu¬facture of the first jukebox in 1934. In 1930, the Julius Bauer Piano Company was purchased and continued to build pianos in that name until shortly before World War II. For a brief time, radios and refrigerators were made by the Wurlitzer controlled Air-Amer¬ican Mohawk Corporation. It was not a successful venture and ended in the mid-1930s. Many of the Wurlitzer retail stores were, at that time, in bad locations and needed repairs. The solutions to these problems came about with a reorganization of the company in 1935. With the reorganization, many retail stores were sold, piano manufacturing was consolidated in DeKalb and many subsidiaries were dissolved or absorbed completely into the Wurlitzer Company.

During World War II, Wurlitzer halted production of musical in¬struments. The company's defense production efforts were rec¬ognized in 1943 and 1944 when it is North Tonawanda and DeKalb plants received the Army-Navy "E" Award. In 1946, peacetime production resumed and the Wurlitzer Company introduced two new instruments: the electric organ in 1947 and the electric piano in 1954. In 1956, the Wurlitzer Company celebrated its centennial. That same year a new plant at Corinth, Mississippi, was completed. Later, plants were opened in Holly Springs, Mississippi (1961), Logan, Utah (1970) and Hullhorst, West Germany, (1960). The new facilities replaced those at North Tonawanda and DeKalb. The North Tonawanda plant ceased production of jukeboxes in 1974, becoming the company's engineering and research center. In 1973, the DeKalb plant ended production of pianos maintaining only mar¬keting and administrative offices. In 1977, the Wurlitzer Com¬pany's corporate headquarters moved to DeKalb, including the en¬gineering and research center from North Tonawanda.

Wurlitzer's three sons had assumed leadership of the company after his death in 1914. Each son acted as president then, chair of the board, successively. The company hired R.C. Rolfing in 1934 as vice-president and general manager. His re¬organization helped the company through the Depression years. Rolfing succeeded the last of the founder's sons in 1941 as pres¬ident of the company and in 1966 as chair of the board. Farny Wurlitzer, Rudolph's youngest son, died in 1972. A.D. Arsem succeeded Rolfing in 1974 as chair of the board. George B. Howell succeeded W. N. Herleman as president of the company.
Related Materials:
Materials in the Archives Center

Steinway & Sons Records and Family Papers, 1857-1919 (AC0178)

Chickering & Sons Piano Company Collection, 1864-1985 (AC0264)

Sohmer & Company Records, 1872-1989 (AC0349)

William J. Lenz Piano Tuning Collection, circa 1903-1955 (AC0511)

Janssen Piano Company Records, 1901-1929 (AC0512)

John R. Anderson Piano Trade Literature and Ephemera Collection, circa 1850-1990 (AC1257)

Warshaw Collection of Business America's Piano and Organ related materials (AC0060)
Provenance:
Collection donated by Northern Illinois University, and Regional History Center, 1994, November 11.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Violin -- Manufacture  Search this
Radio -- Receivers and reception  Search this
Coin-operated machines  Search this
Accordion  Search this
Jukeboxes -- Manufacture  Search this
Harp -- Manufacture  Search this
Piano -- History  Search this
Player organ  Search this
Accordion -- Manufacture  Search this
Piano makers  Search this
Organ -- Manufacture  Search this
Organ -- History  Search this
Wurlitzer organ  Search this
Musical instrument makers  Search this
Mechanical organs  Search this
Mechanical musical instruments  Search this
Musical instruments  Search this
Genre/Form:
Minute books
Account books
Financial records
Stock records
Reports
Advertisements
Sales records
Audits
Cashbooks
Ledgers (account books)
Annual reports
Photographs -- 19th century
Journals (accounts)
Price lists
Trade catalogs
Publications
Employee records
Marketing records
Commercial catalogs
Citation:
Wurlitzer Company Records, 1860-1984, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0469
See more items in:
Wurlitzer Company Records
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep8b6b1ed59-da9e-468e-ae2e-8bcd065f8cb2
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0469
Online Media:

Wood and Brooks Company Records

Creator:
Wood & Brooks Company  Search this
Names:
International Association of Machinists  Search this
Pratt, Read and Company  Search this
United Furniture Workers of America  Search this
Extent:
3 Cubic feet (10 boxes)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Business records
Correspondence
Specifications
Date:
1889-1959
Summary:
Collection documents the activities of Wood & Brooks, a manufacturer of piano keys and actions.
Scope and Contents:
The collection conists primarily of correspondence Charles R. Wood, M.S. Brooks and Hilton C. Brooks, financal and sales records, and some photographs documenting the company's work as manufacturer's of ivory piano keys and piano actions.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into six series.

Series 1: Executive Records, 1889-1949 Series 2: Correspondence, 1890-1932 Series 3: Financial Records, 1891-1932

Series 4: Photographs, 1902-1959 Series 5: Piano Action and Specification Materials, 1927-1959

Series 6: Miscellaneous, 1958
Biographical / Historical:
Charles Raymond Wood founded Wood and Brooks Company in 1901, in North Tonawanda, New York with financial help from Connecticut entrepreneur, M.S. Brooks. The company manufactured piano keys and piano actions. In 1905, Wood and Brooks acquired Seavern Piano Action Company of Cambridge, Massachusettts and in 1910 purchased Kurtz Action Company of Rockford, Illinois.

Source

Dolge, Alfred. Pianos and Their Makers. Development of the piano, Volume II, 1913.
Related Materials:
Materials in the Archives Center

Pratt, Read and Corporation Records (NMAH.AC.0320)

Warshaw Colletion of Business American, Series: Ivory (NMAH.AC.0060)

Warshaw Colletion of Business American, Series: Pianos (NMAH.AC.0060)

Ernest D. Moore Papers (NMAH.AC.0321)

Otto Gerdau Collection (NMAH.AC.0363)

Sohmer & Co. Records (NMAH.AC.0349)

Steinway & Sons Records and Family Papers (NMAH.AC.0178)

Chickering & Sons Piano Company Collection (NMAH.AC.0264)
Provenance:
Collection donated by Lawrence G. Brady, 1994.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Collective labor agreements  Search this
Factory workers  Search this
Factories  Search this
Ivory  Search this
Ivory industry  Search this
Keyboard instruments  Search this
Photographs  Search this
Piano  Search this
pianos  Search this
stock certificates  Search this
Genre/Form:
Business records
Correspondence -- 19th-20th century
Specifications
Specifications
Citation:
Wood and Brooks Company Records, 1925-1966, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0457
See more items in:
Wood and Brooks Company Records
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep8efc6d2ed-bdae-4a1f-8b48-9d43344e70e0
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0457

Volume 4, Piano Numbers: 27,001-34,000

Collection Creator:
Chickering, Jonas, 1798-1853  Search this
Container:
Box 6, Reel 2
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1864 October 29 - 1870 June 22
Collection Restrictions:
The collection is open for research use.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
Chickering and Sons Piano Company Collection, 1864-1985, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
See more items in:
Chickering & Sons Piano Company Collection
Chickering & Sons Piano Company Collection / Series 7: Piano Registers and Microfilm Location and Footnotes
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep886952082-ab56-4c49-a5b6-022ae55030c4
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0264-ref114

Company History and Records

Collection Creator:
Chickering, Jonas, 1798-1853  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1838-1940
Collection Restrictions:
The collection is open for research use.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
Chickering and Sons Piano Company Collection, 1864-1985, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0264, Series 3
See more items in:
Chickering & Sons Piano Company Collection
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep83f99a387-32c4-4a86-a84c-82f5c7dec9a4
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0264-ref12

Volume 27, Piano Numbers: 95,500-95,999

Collection Creator:
Chickering, Jonas, 1798-1853  Search this
Container:
Box 22, Reel 15
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1901 August 14 - 1902 April 30
Collection Restrictions:
The collection is open for research use.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
Chickering and Sons Piano Company Collection, 1864-1985, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
See more items in:
Chickering & Sons Piano Company Collection
Chickering & Sons Piano Company Collection / Series 7: Piano Registers and Microfilm Location and Footnotes
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep83502d9c9-5e9b-4752-a1ae-3979f8eae00a
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0264-ref139

Volume 29, Piano Numbers: 96,500-96,999

Collection Creator:
Chickering, Jonas, 1798-1853  Search this
Container:
Box 24, Reel 17
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1902 May 23 - 1902 July 12
Collection Restrictions:
The collection is open for research use.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
Chickering and Sons Piano Company Collection, 1864-1985, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
See more items in:
Chickering & Sons Piano Company Collection
Chickering & Sons Piano Company Collection / Series 7: Piano Registers and Microfilm Location and Footnotes
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep87b0a89fe-e8a6-4fb5-904e-d85a9463ccb7
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0264-ref141

Chickering and Sons Piano Fortes at the Exhibitions of 1856

Collection Creator:
Chickering, Jonas, 1798-1853  Search this
Container:
Box 1, Folder 3
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
undated
Collection Restrictions:
The collection is open for research use.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
Chickering and Sons Piano Company Collection, 1864-1985, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
See more items in:
Chickering & Sons Piano Company Collection
Chickering & Sons Piano Company Collection / Series 2: Publications
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep8350ef408-dc5b-4d60-b529-8c7d3770897a
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0264-ref35

"Chickering America's Oldest and Best Loved Piano" Text and photographs of Craftsmanship,

Collection Creator:
Chickering, Jonas, 1798-1853  Search this
Container:
Box 2, Folder 2
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
undated
Collection Restrictions:
The collection is open for research use.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
Chickering and Sons Piano Company Collection, 1864-1985, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
See more items in:
Chickering & Sons Piano Company Collection
Chickering & Sons Piano Company Collection / Series 3: Company History and Records
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep83fcc7eaf-e190-4561-8826-7fa805386399
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0264-ref66

Portrait of Jonas Chickering, Frontpiece, and "The Pianos of Jonas Chickering (eight illustrations)" by Vera Gamet. The Bulletin of The Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, Vol. XXX1, No. 1,

Collection Creator:
Chickering, Jonas, 1798-1853  Search this
Container:
Box 2, Folder 4
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1940 July
Collection Restrictions:
The collection is open for research use.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
Chickering and Sons Piano Company Collection, 1864-1985, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
See more items in:
Chickering & Sons Piano Company Collection
Chickering & Sons Piano Company Collection / Series 3: Company History and Records
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep8eecdeba9-30b5-4372-9aff-f3d714320039
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0264-ref72

Advertisements, Business Cards and Address List

Collection Creator:
Everett Piano Company  Search this
Hammacher, Schlemmer & Company  Search this
Chickering & Sons Piano Company  Search this
Pratt, Read and Company  Search this
Wood & Brooks Company  Search this
Otto R. Trefz, Jr., & Company  Search this
Piano Parts Mfg. Co.  Search this
Lynn & Healy Company  Search this
Lang, C. H., & Company  Search this
Wurlitzer Company  Search this
Collection Collector:
Lenz, William J. (piano technician)  Search this
Container:
Box 1, Folder 1
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
September 29, 1925-August 8, 1955
Collection Restrictions:
Unrestricted research use on site.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
William J. Lenz Piano Tuning Collection, ca. 1903-1955, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
See more items in:
William J. Lenz Piano Tuning Collection
William J. Lenz Piano Tuning Collection / Series 1: William Lenz
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep8908ff9e1-d2f9-4f14-8536-4d3427c40c6f
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0511-ref511

Pamphlets on Piano Playing

Collection Creator:
Everett Piano Company  Search this
Hammacher, Schlemmer & Company  Search this
Chickering & Sons Piano Company  Search this
Pratt, Read and Company  Search this
Wood & Brooks Company  Search this
Otto R. Trefz, Jr., & Company  Search this
Piano Parts Mfg. Co.  Search this
Lynn & Healy Company  Search this
Lang, C. H., & Company  Search this
Wurlitzer Company  Search this
Collection Collector:
Lenz, William J. (piano technician)  Search this
Container:
Box 1, Folder 7
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1927-1953
Collection Restrictions:
Unrestricted research use on site.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
William J. Lenz Piano Tuning Collection, ca. 1903-1955, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
See more items in:
William J. Lenz Piano Tuning Collection
William J. Lenz Piano Tuning Collection / Series 3: Piano Tuning and Playing
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep8e1a89dd1-1d99-4d03-bd09-0c0ca1f7f0d4
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0511-ref523

Maufacturers and Distributors of Parts, Supplies and Tools

Collection Creator:
Everett Piano Company  Search this
Hammacher, Schlemmer & Company  Search this
Chickering & Sons Piano Company  Search this
Pratt, Read and Company  Search this
Wood & Brooks Company  Search this
Otto R. Trefz, Jr., & Company  Search this
Piano Parts Mfg. Co.  Search this
Lynn & Healy Company  Search this
Lang, C. H., & Company  Search this
Wurlitzer Company  Search this
Collection Collector:
Lenz, William J. (piano technician)  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
circa 1903-1952
Collection Restrictions:
Unrestricted research use on site.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
William J. Lenz Piano Tuning Collection, ca. 1903-1955, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0511, Series 4
See more items in:
William J. Lenz Piano Tuning Collection
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep8a11d6002-ec7b-4893-866c-3ec7f903cb82
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0511-ref526

Chickering & Sons Piano Company Collection

Creator:
Chickering, Jonas, 1798-1853  Search this
Names:
Chickering & Sons Piano Company  Search this
Wurlitzer Company  Search this
McKay, John, Captain  Search this
Stewart, James  Search this
Former owner:
National Museum of American History (U.S.). Division of Musical History  Search this
Extent:
16 Cubic feet (37 boxes)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Microfilms
Trade literature
Photographic prints
Papers
Place:
Boston (Mass.)
Date:
1864 - 1985
Scope and Contents:
This collection consists of 51 volumes of Chickering & Sons piano registers, documenting piano production (May 1823-September 1985); correspondence related to the hundredth anniversary of Jonas Chickering's presidency of the Handel and Hayden Society; publications on the history of the Company and sales literature (1854-1984); newspapers articles about the company (1847-1876); photographs (1926-1966); advertising and management forms (1938-1968); and a copy of a letter by Jonas Chickering to his father dated January 27, 1838. There are also ten documents related to the construction, mortgaging and insurance of Chickering Hall in New York City (1876-1886). Chickering Hall opened with great acclaim in 1875 and was an important musical center in New York City in the last quarter of the 19th Century. Some grand pianos from turn of the century onward are not listed in the ledgers. It is thought that Chickering may have had a duplicate set of serial numbers for grand pianos but this collection lacks that volume.
Arrangement:
This collection organized into seven series.

Series 1: Correspondence, 1950

Series 2: Publications, 1854-1884

Series 3: Company history and records, 1838-1940

Series 4: Newspapers, 1847-1876

Series 5: Photographs, 1924-1966

Series 6: Management forms and material, 1938-1968

Series 7: Microfilm of ledger books, 1823-1985
Biographical / Historical:
Chickering & Sons pianos are an old line that came into being in April 1823 in Boston. Jonas Chickering, the founder, was a youthful cabinet maker. He learned piano making from John Osborn, a true master of the trade. The division of labor in Osborn's shop was not very extensive and Chickering was compelled to study every part of the instrument and to make himself acquainted with all the details. This exposure to the full range of tasks would served him well when he became a master in his own right. During his four years with Osborn, he became acquainted with Osborn's partner, James Stewart, who was awarded a patent for a "detached" soundingboard that was incorporated in the partners' pianos.

When Osborn and Stewart severed their business relationship, Stewart and his new partner, Chickering, opened a small shop on Tremont Street near King's Chapel on February 15, 1823. The partnership lasted three years until Stewart withdrew and left for London. At the age of 28, Chickering became the sole owner of the small but prosperous manufactory. The firm's annual output climbed over the next three years and reached 47 instruments in 1829.

In early 1830, Chickering made Captain John McKay, an experienced, aggressive, and successful merchandiser a partner in Chickering & Company. Captain Mackay made frequent trips to South American ports with ships laden with pianos. Returning home, the hold was filled with fragrant rosewood and richly grained mahogany. Chickering's first invention was patented in 1837 the first practical casting of a modern iron frame built to sustain the great tension of the strings of the piano so that it would stay in tune for a considerable period. In 1845, another important patent was secured, representing the first practical method of overstringing for square pianos, and in 1849 he applied the same principle to uprights. These contributions and others have become standard with all piano manufacturers.

The Chickering firm made pianos in a new way, employing production strategies that paralleled developments in other trades undergoing industrialization. "When he first commenced business for himself about 15 instruments a year were turned out while in the later years Mr. Chickering's business finished between fifteen and sixteen hundred instruments a year and at least one grand piano worth about a thousand dollars every week." (Richard G. Parker, A Tribute To The Life and Character of Jonas Chickering "By one who knew him well" (Boston: William P. Tewksbury, 1854.)

He was a long time President of the Handel & Hayden Society of Boston, this Country's oldest oratorio, founded in 1815.

On December 1, 1853, a fire swept through the Washington Street factory. Rather than rebuild on Washington Street, plans were made to erect a new factory on Tremont Street in the South End of Boston. Chickering, however, never saw the new plant in operation as he suffered a stroke and died December 8, 1853. The large Chickering factory built in 1853 was described at that time as the largest building in the United States outside the U.S. Capitol, and as "... the most perfect and extensive pianoforte estblishment in the world."

Chickering's death in 1853 left the business in the hands of his sons. In 1867, Emperor Napoleon III of France bestowed the Imperial Cross of the Legion of Honor on Frank Chickering at the Paris World's Fair that year.

With the passing of C. Frank Chickering in 1891, the company lost headway; and it was purchased by the American Piano Company in 1908 (Chickering Brothers pianos, which were made for several years following 1892 were in no way related to Chickering & Sons, though this family of boys was trained in the Chickering & Sons Boston factory).

From 1905 to 1911, the firm alone among American builders supported the revival of early instruments by hiring the English musician and craftsman Arnold Dolmetsch to build harpsichords, clavichords, and violas.

Chickering & Sons continued manufacturing pianos in Boston until 1927, when the plant and its personnel were relocated to East Rochester, New York. The Chickering was the foremost piano of the time Longfellow had one and there was one on the stage at Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C. the night Lincoln was assassinated. In 1932 the Company became part of the Aeolian American Corporation.

William Knabe of Kreutzburg, Germany, trained as a piano manufacturer, established his business in Baltimore, Maryland in 1837, and controlled the market in the Southern states by 1860. The Civil War and economic pressures may have contributed to the death of Knabe in 1864. The Company was eventually purchased by the American Piano Company in 1908, shortly after Chickering became a part of the organization.

The Wurlitzer Company, a major musical instrument manufacturer, acquired the Chickering firm in 1985 and continued to produce instruments with the Chickering name. The Wurlitzer Company was later purchased by the Baldwin Piano Company; Baldwin was subsequently purchased by Wurltech, Inc., of Houston, Texas.
Provenance:
This collection was donated by the Wurlitzer Company, May 17, 1987.
Restrictions:
The collection is open for research use.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
advertising  Search this
Keyboard instruments  Search this
Business -- History  Search this
Musical instruments -- 1860-1990  Search this
Musical instrument manufacturing  Search this
Piano makers  Search this
Genre/Form:
Microfilms
Trade literature
Photographic prints
Papers
Citation:
Chickering and Sons Piano Company Collection, 1864-1985, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0264
See more items in:
Chickering & Sons Piano Company Collection
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep886f1c94d-ee6e-4c1c-bc11-97884ec73a13
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0264
Online Media:

Publications

Collection Creator:
Chickering, Jonas, 1798-1853  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1854-1884
Collection Restrictions:
The collection is open for research use.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
Chickering and Sons Piano Company Collection, 1864-1985, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0264, Series 2
See more items in:
Chickering & Sons Piano Company Collection
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep8613621f2-8e45-4ddb-ac0f-94a7429f594f
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0264-ref11

Volume 13, Piano Numbers: 80,401-84,400

Collection Creator:
Chickering, Jonas, 1798-1853  Search this
Container:
Box 9, Reel 3
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1891 May 6 - 1894 September 17
Collection Restrictions:
The collection is open for research use.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
Chickering and Sons Piano Company Collection, 1864-1985, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
See more items in:
Chickering & Sons Piano Company Collection
Chickering & Sons Piano Company Collection / Series 7: Piano Registers and Microfilm Location and Footnotes
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep8d5348f81-e34f-4000-a5a7-3870675eeed1
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0264-ref123

Letter from F. Otis Drayton, President, Handel and Hayden Society

Collection Creator:
Chickering, Jonas, 1798-1853  Search this
Container:
Box 1, Folder 1
Type:
Archival materials
Text
Date:
1950 September 18
Collection Restrictions:
The collection is open for research use.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
Chickering and Sons Piano Company Collection, 1864-1985, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
See more items in:
Chickering & Sons Piano Company Collection
Chickering & Sons Piano Company Collection / Series 1: Correspondence
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep8b45aa51d-898a-4600-b78b-9f22c991c0b1
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0264-ref21

"Chickering", Aeolian American Corporation,

Collection Creator:
Chickering, Jonas, 1798-1853  Search this
Container:
Box 1, Folder 6
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1967
Collection Restrictions:
The collection is open for research use.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
Chickering and Sons Piano Company Collection, 1864-1985, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
See more items in:
Chickering & Sons Piano Company Collection
Chickering & Sons Piano Company Collection / Series 2: Publications
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep856f5c33f-8e16-4d0c-8385-4b6fc5c75e93
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0264-ref51

The Cabinet Maker's Apprentice and the Piano of the Princess,

Collection Creator:
Chickering, Jonas, 1798-1853  Search this
Container:
Box 2, Folder 1
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1938
Collection Restrictions:
The collection is open for research use.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
Chickering and Sons Piano Company Collection, 1864-1985, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
See more items in:
Chickering & Sons Piano Company Collection
Chickering & Sons Piano Company Collection / Series 3: Company History and Records
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep8d0c460c6-cb54-42d0-96e3-3d6194dab359
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0264-ref58

Manufacturers and Farmers Journal and Providence and Pawtucket Advertiser, Vol. XXVII, No. 41, Providence Thursday, Monday, "What's In A Name?" reference to Chickering & Sons

Collection Creator:
Chickering, Jonas, 1798-1853  Search this
Container:
Box 3
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1848 May 22
Collection Restrictions:
The collection is open for research use.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
Chickering and Sons Piano Company Collection, 1864-1985, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
See more items in:
Chickering & Sons Piano Company Collection
Chickering & Sons Piano Company Collection / Series 4: Newspapers
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep8f758bc1b-eaa3-421c-b12a-f7e9618669c1
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0264-ref92

The Daily Morning Post, Vol. XII, No. 153, Pittsburgh, First page advertisement for Chickering's Pianos with prices,

Collection Creator:
Chickering, Jonas, 1798-1853  Search this
Container:
Box 3
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1854 January 27
Collection Restrictions:
The collection is open for research use.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
Chickering and Sons Piano Company Collection, 1864-1985, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
See more items in:
Chickering & Sons Piano Company Collection
Chickering & Sons Piano Company Collection / Series 4: Newspapers
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep89585bf6c-6774-47c7-b8af-f6ec0dc2618f
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0264-ref94

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