Steinway 1909 Model O, Restored March 2007
My mother passed away in July 2006. Her Steinway grand piano was a prized possession. Her parents bought the piano for her in the 1940's when she was in college. They lived in Queens, New York and it is hard to imagine how they fit the piano, two adults and three kids into the one floor of the house that they lived in. Her brother and sister recall that they took out a loan to buy the piano. My mother was an accomplished pianist and organist, and obtained a Master's degree in Sacred Music from Union Theological Seminary.
When my mother moved to Oregon, it took a while for the piano to follow. However, in the late 1950's there was an exchange of the Steinway grand for the spinet my mother had acquired. The story is that the same truck driver took the Steinway out to Oregon and brought the spinet back to New York City to my grandmother's house. Eventually, my parents decided to move to Prescott, Arizona, and of course, the Steinway came along, moving through several changes of housing. Sadly, as my mother's health deteriorated, she played it less and less, but it stood in a position of honor in her living room. In the last few months of her life, others came and played it for her (and for themselves, as it is a fine instrument).
My mother fussed about what was going to happen to the piano, and talked about donating it to a local organization. However, The Sapling and I knew we wanted to bring it back to our home in New Hampshire. It turns out that while my mother thought it was a 1925 Steinway, the piano is actually a 1909 Model O. All Steinways have serial numbers, and from the serial number it is possible to determine the date of manufacture and the specific type of piano. I wrote to Steinway to see what they knew about it, and they told me that the piano had been sent to a retailer in Syracuse, New York, and then sold to an individual, which didn't have a city attached to the address. They had no other information.
Steinway 1909 Model O Keyboard with Serial Number before restoration
So, we moved it back to New Hampshire, and took it to Peter Mohr at New England Classic Piano Restorations in Manchester NH. We were happy that we did not need to replace the soundboard, and that Peter was able to repair it. The restoration work took about 5 months, including a complete refinishing. Interestingly, the piano may look better than it did when it emerged from the factory almost 100 years ago. Peter showed us how the harp (the metal part of the insides that the strings are attached to) was not very well finished. Apparently, Steinway was rushing out the Model O's and didn't apply quite as high a degree of finish to some parts. This also explains the difficulty we had in finding the serial number, which is normally inked in a pretty prominent location. The restored harp and new strings are shown below.
Steinway 1909 Model 0 Restored Harp, Soundboard and Stringing