Answered by Art Reblitz
Pianos: The Pierce Piano Atlas includes serial number and age information for thousands of piano brands. Most piano technicians have a copy, and will provide the information if you have your piano tuned or appraised. You may buy your own copy through the web site http://www.pianoatlas.com. That site will also provide information for one piano, for a small fee.
Reed Organs (pump organs):For information on reed organs, visit the web site of the Reed Organ Society at: http://www.reedsoc.org
Player pianos and reproducing pianos: Dates for ordinary home player pianos and reproducing pianos are generally the same as for regular pianos of the same brand name. They are included in the Pierce Piano Atlas, described above.
Coin pianos and orchestrions:
Pianos: That depends on the condition, the current market in your part of the country, and to some extent, the brand name. Even if you tell me the brand name and serial number, I can’t provide an appraisal of your piano without examining it and comparing it to other pianos for sale in your area. Major repairs are costly, and old pianos don’t necessarily have any "antique value" just because of their age. For two examples, an unrestored 1890 Steinway grand piano is generally worth less than a newer Steinway in good condition, and a high quality Mason & Hamlin upright that is falling apart after being stored in a leaky shed is worth less than a relatively low-cost Wurlitzer or Kimball console piano in pristine condition.
Three Ways to Learn More about the Value of a Piano
Player Pianos and Reproducing Pianos: As with ordinary pianos described above, it is impossible to provide an appraisal without seeing the instrument in person. Very few music stores buy and sell old player pianos and even fewer handle reproducing pianos. The best way to learn about values in the United States is to become a member of AMICA, listed in this web site under Technical & Resources / Links to Resources / Clubs and Organizations. The AMICA Bulletin contains articles about these fascinating instruments, the companies that made them, the artists who made the rolls, current-day collectors, and advertising for instruments wanted and for sale. At local chapter meetings and national conventions, you may ask experienced people about current market values. Similar organizations in other countries offer similar benefits. These are also listed under the "Clubs and Organizations" link. The Internet forum Mechanical Music Digest also occasionally includes listings and prices for transactions.
Music Boxes: For more information, join the Musical Box Society International and other groups listed in the present web site under Technical & Resources / Links to Resources / Clubs and Organizations. Their publications provide comprehensive information on many types of instruments, and through chapter meetings and national conventions you will meet others who share your interests.
Coin Pianos, Orchestrions, Band Organs: As with music boxes and player pianos, the best way to learn about values is to become a member of the Musical Box Society International, AMICA, or the other groups listed in this web site under FAQ's/Resources / Links to Resources / Clubs and Organizations. The Internet forum Mechanical Music Digest also occasionally includes listings and prices for transactions.
See FAQs/Resources / Links to Resources / Restoration Services in this web site. Other automatic musical instrument-related sites include further information.
I have a technical question about tuning or repairing an automatic musical instrument. Can you help me with this?
Because of the large volume of email, regular mail, and phone calls, I am no longer able to answer technical or historical questions via e-mail. You may find the answers to many questions by exploring the sites in our "Mechanical Music Links & Resources" page. The best ways to expand your knowledge include reading books on the subject, and joining one or more of the clubs and organizations listed in the links page.