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Chickering serial number question

  • 1.  Chickering serial number question

    Posted 02-06-2019 22:32
    Serviced an incredibly nice Chickering this afternoon. Rebuilt and refinished less than ten years ago. Probably a new pinblock as well. Very nice all around. But I have a problem. The serial number on it, (no longer on the plate since it was painted, but found stamped into the inside of the case and on the action frame), is 4692. That's like 1841 or something. This piano is NOT 178 years old. Next to the serial number on the action frame is a rubber stamp that says July, 1964, which is too old to indicate when it was rebuilt. Pierce sort of has a gap in this 1964 era on Chickering. Any ideas what this piano really is?

    Geoff Sykes, RPT
    Los Angeles CA

  • 2.  RE: Chickering serial number question

    Posted 02-07-2019 01:16
    Edited by William Shull 02-07-2019 01:37
    Hi Jeff,   This is a real problem with not only Chickering but other builders too.   The serial number was stamped in only one place and the refinisher or rebuilder stripped it off and didn't save it and return it to the proper location.  I have gathered the records of several companies so occasionally a serial number can be "recovered" but usually not.   The label inside older Chickerings is helpful for date and ID though it only has the case number.  Sometimes a plate refinish can be  carefully sanded through to find the number but your Chickering probably put the serial number in the middle of the soundboard decal.  (Is it there?  Did you look at the decal carefully?)
    Most technicians confuse the case numbers of Chickering, Baldwin, Mason and Hamlin and even  Knabe with the serial number.   Chickerings are often thought to be much older than they are - but actually Chickering began to use case or production numbers in manufacturing very early.  Chickering wasn't fond of these numbers getting into the 5 figures so they were recycled.  
    My class on Baldwin at Tucson will discuss a similar confusion with Baldwin and
    how to avoid it.

  • 3.  RE: Chickering serial number question

    Posted 02-07-2019 11:36
    Bill --
    I occurred to me after I posted that the number I'm finding is probably a production number. Production numbers are found on many parts of the piano while a serial number in very few. The decal is not on the soundboard but rather on the plate, inside a cast border of the same shape as the decal. Since the plate was repainted this decal is new from the rebuild. I have to go back to repair a squeak in the pedal box along with some damper tweaking so I will have another opportunity to look more closely and in some other areas.

    Geoff Sykes, RPT
    Los Angeles CA

  • 4.  RE: Chickering serial number question

    Posted 02-07-2019 13:47
    Chickering grands built after 1932 are small, 5'2 or so, with few exceptions based on Knabe and Mason and Hamlin models.  It would be fairly easy to figure the approximate age out with a few pics of the internal structure and action.   


    Sent from my iPhone

  • 5.  RE: Chickering serial number question

    Posted 02-07-2019 09:00
    I would go with the rubber stamp date for action assemblage and the rest not far after that.


    Jon Page

  • 6.  RE: Chickering serial number question

    Posted 02-07-2019 09:02
    you may find it stamped into the lyre top but you would have to remove the lyre. other places to look -stamped into the keybed or soundboard or there could be a penciled serial number on the cheek blocks, back of key slip, action frame. paperwork for the rebuild may also have it. do you think it is early 1900's  or mid 1900's      / size and model may help in narrowing it down

    James Kelly
    Pawleys Island SC

  • 7.  RE: Chickering serial number question

    Posted 02-07-2019 09:27
    If it was early 20th century it would have a scale number cast into the plate...121, 123, etc.  If it has no scale number, and the casting is slightly (kind of) rough, I would be inclined toward the 1964 era (Aeolian) which would make it a prime candidate for rebuild.

    Do the keys give evidence of having been recovered (as in ivory originally), or plastic originally?  Also, what is the shape of the tail?


    Peter Grey
    Stratham NH