As a refinishing project, I picked up this piano from a free ad on craig’s list. It’s a B. Shoninger upright grand piano. Looking at it’s finish, it’s all crackly. The patents inside on the sound board say things such as “Mar. 12. 78″, and “Feb. 5. 84″. The finish was in much to terrible of shape for this to be created after 1989 and the wood looked very dry. The B. Shoninger decal by the keys was also worn badly and from more usage than scraping I guessed.
After some internet searching, I was able to find out that once I had the serial number of the piano I would be able to date it. So I went off to the storage unit to take a look for a serial number. I found two numbers, both pictured below. Then I set off to the public library to see if I couldn’t come across some sort of encyclopedia that would help determine the date. There’s a website that should help you date, but I was unable to find the B. Shoninger company on it. You may have some luck though at Bluebook of Pianos.
The reference librarian was a fantastic help, waddling through the aisle of the library I’d never been in before pulling books here and there. We sat down and started paging through them only to find that I did, indeed, have the correct serial number and the book that I needed to property date this musical instrument is Pierce Piano Atlas. As it turns out, the library didn’t have it, but a nearby one did. We opted for the inter library loan option instead of trying to beat the clock and make it to the neighboring city before the library closed.
Just a few days later, we had the book. And in 5 minutes after that, we had the piano dated. Our serial number falls between 1890 and 1895. Pretty darn neat to have a turn of the 20th century piano.
This piano needs work. One of the hammers was broken. The finish is terrible and the wood is drying out. I don’t have a clue about piano repair, but with the right tools and books, I should be able to make this playable again. If I can’t, then at least it will look amazing after a refinish in period finishes. I’m sure there’ll be more about the process later.