Antique Player Piano - Any Idea About Its Value?

Hi Guys -
We have an antique Lachner* player piano that we’re thinking of getting rid of - we don’t really even know where to start with trying to figure out if it has any value, or if it’s just a really big, really heavy old block of wood. As far as we can tell, the player piano was built in Guelph, Ontario sometime between 1912 and 1917. The piano is not in fantastic shape, but it is probably still able to be restored. There is some graffiti carved in the wood, and a bit of body damage (the corners are all scuffed, and one corner is kind of broken). Overall it is in pretty good shape for an almost 100 year old piano. We have no idea if the player components still work - they’re definitely still in there, though.

Any thoughts?

*Lachner is the name on the piano; the piano apparently was made by the Bell Piano Company of Guelph, Ontario.

Cat Whisperer, If my observations from MN/WI USA area are of any help, do not get your hopes up as to receiving a high value for the antique player piano. We just viewed a house going for sale on auction. In the basement was a nice, large, decorative player piano which appeared to be in about the same condition as you describe. The piano remained unsold after 2 weekend auctions of the household personal effects. It was too large to move, and too costly to refinish. It now would be auctioned off as part of the house. I would ask opinions from area music stores, who may know of piano resellers. Good luck.

Cat Whisperer - Unfortunately, 100 year-old pianos are suffering from a severe glut right now.

Good luck.


You can look at Craigslist to see what people are asking for them (a number of them are saying free):
Search Google for “player piano”
and add Lachner or Bell if you want

This. I’m no piano expert, but I have friends who are, and they say a lot of very old pianos are “totalled”. That is, it’ll cost more to move them than their value. Try to sell it, but be prepared to give it away at no cost to anyone who’s willing to move it off your property.

I saw one in a Salvation Army store, with 3 boxes of rolls (over 50).
Cosmetically, it was was in good shape - the finish had dulled and it would be a major effort to strip and refinish such a monster.

It had either $100 or $200 tag on it - don’t know what it finally brought.

At that age, the bellows is probably shot and the tubing dry and brittle (each key corresponds to a hole in the playback plate - a hole in the scroll allows air into the hole, and through a rubber tube.

A full-size piano has 88 keys - that’s 88 separate, delicate mechanisms to go through and replace tube, oil whatever, and replace the felt (whatever) on the hammer head. Then tune it - there are 3 wires per key.
Now you can look at the pedals, the bellows and the scroll rolling machinery.

Now you know why they don’t sell so well.

If you need it gone, I’d suggest a Craigslist under “Free Stuff” - yours for the taking. Only professional piano movers will be allowed to remove it.

You don’t want some amateur(s) trying to move a piano past or over anything you value.

Thanks, guys. That’s kind of what we’re finding - we’ve moved the damned thing twice now, and I’d like its last move to be to someone else’s house. :slight_smile: So, not a lot of money in it, eh? Oh well - we got it for free anyway.

Going a different route, do you suppose a music museum or Olde Tyme Theme Park would have any interest?

Before TV, before the radio: If you wanted music, you either went to town when a traveling band or orchestra was playing (larger towns could have a group of talented folks performing on occasion) or maybe got your fix on Sunday morning.

Beyond that, you heard what you made - so many homes were thrilled to have a piano. Some families actually would be talented performers in their own rights.

My folks had something in mind when they insisted that the kids each learn an instrument. To this day, we all hate the experience. The youngest was 4 years after the rest - she got the advantage of hindsight and was not required to learn an instrument.

Unless it’s a Steinway, Boesendorfer, etc., about the only value a piano of that vintage will have is as a very sturdy platform for the cat to nap on.

The mechanical parts are certainly perished by now - rubber hoses, leather bellows and gaskets, felt hammers, etc. And that’s for the parts that haven’t been gnawed on by critters.

You may be lucky enough to have a playable piano once the player mechanism is removed, but you mention a fair bit of cabinet damage, and who knows if the soundboard is still intact and if the pin block is still capable of holding the tuning pins? If you can play it at all, and none of the notes are missing, it might be tunable, or if you’re looking for a project, you might want to try restoring it.

Otherwise, put it on craigslist for free and hope someone wants it, and that they’re capable of safely moving it.

That’s not true; it’s also a very sturdy platform for some plants and pictures, too. :slight_smile:

Pretty much this. I’ve had several friends who were moving and got to the point they would have paid someone to take their perfectly good (non-player) pianos away. There’s a big glut of used pianos on the market and has been for some time.

This article explores the issue

Just as a bit of extra info, aside from the highest E, all the keys play fine and, although it is in need of a tune-up, it sounds not too bad. The player portion is more-or-less intact, but doesn’t seem to be functional at this point.

Having said that, it sounds like this old beast isn’t going to fetch us much money, if any. Bummer, because aside from some mistreatment on the outside, it seems like a quite nice instrument. Hate to see it just get thrown away (which was its likely destination if I hadn’t claimed it). Hopefully we can find it a nice home…

Thanks for everyone’s input. :slight_smile:

The piano will be made by one company and the mechanism to make it a player by another. If the player mechanism is an Ampico you may have some value, but probably less than it would cost to restore. There are clubs and such for automatic music instruments of all sorts.

Run a search for piano dump on YouTube and weep.

i have an upright built in Ontario in 1911. It was well cared for and its finish gleams. it’s in tune and holds its tuning but is worthless and I don’t play.
However, if I keep it another 100 years, I figure it might be worth a couple of billion, perhaps enough to pay a month’s rent in 2114.

Here’s a good idea!
(from the “reader’s comments” section underneath the article )


Link thief! :stuck_out_tongue: