Sunday, December 20, 2009

Bachmann, Berlin

This beautiful Bachmann upright was built in Berlin, Germany.  I can't seem to find any reference to this company anywhere, so I can't say for sure when it was built, even though I know the serial number.  It was probably built in the very early 20th century.

I looked all over the piano for a date.  Sometimes whoever worked on the keyboard will sign their names with a date on the first few keys.  I've even seen the signature of a manufacturer and a date proudly written on the inside of the case.  A hammerhead might carry a date, or the plate might have a date cast into it.  If the piano has been worked on by someone who knows when it was built, he might pencil the date on the plate, or on the keyframe behind the keyslip, or stamp it into some wooden case part.  In addition to serial numbers, there are also case numbers, used as reference in the factory before the serial number has been assigned.  If the action was made by a separate action maker, it could have its own serial number, or a date stamp.  Rebuilders sometimes switch parts from different pianos, creating great uncertainty about when a piano was actually built.  On this piano I found various numbers, but no date, alas.

Bachmann's name is carved into the veneer of the fallboard, something I'd never seen done before.  Usually the maker's name is attached as a decal, or sometimes inlaid.  Another name is carved into the keystop rail, beneath Bachmann's name; Rosen's, apparently a piano dealer in Cape Town, South Africa.

It is a typical German upright with a bird-cage action (like the Berlin-made Waldmann I posted about earlier, also from South Africa), and an over-strung bass section.  The keytops were probably originally ivory, but they have been replaced with ivorine.  The gorgeous veneer is book-matched walnut, with burled walnut panels.  There used to be candelabra attached to the two side panels in front.  The turned balls and collars on the legs are a nice touch.

Bird-cage action!