Saturday, December 27, 2008

Heintzman piano

Today we say goodbye to my upright piano. It's served me well for probably twenty years - maybe longer.
When we tried to move it into the house, it proved to be too large to get round front porch, and finally the movers had to shift it over the little balcony at the front of the house and bring it in through the French windows. The French windows have been long gone, replaced by aluminium windows in what was a kind of sun verandah, now incorporated into the larger lounge. Which meant that this piano was never going to get out of the house again in one piece, because not only was it unmanoeverable through the main door of the house, it couldn't be pushed through the lounge door, which by dint of circumstances, is narrower than your average door.
So we've spent the afternoon breaking the piano down into its component parts, a task that's proved to be verging on the superhuman. This piano was never meant to fade away without a fight. It's solid through and through, and everything is screwed down as if to withstand a hurricane.
Regrettably, the musical side of the piano, as opposed to its chassis, hasn't withstood the test of time. It won't stay in tune any more, and even an overhaul a couple of years ago didn't do it much good.
So sadly, it's had to go.
My wife and I have spent the afternoon trying to get it down into a small enough state to actually move it out of the house. The piano has resisted mightily, but finally the deed is done, and parts of the piano are scattered around the place, some of the wood being stored in case it's useful, the copper strings being collected for recycling, and various other component parts thrown ignominously on the rubbish heap. As of now, my youngest son is sawing away at the back of the piano, which was seemingly made as solid as a house.
It was only when we opened it up that we found it was a Heintzman and Co product. Number 64835, which probably means it was made in the 1920s. It's Canadian by birth, and my understanding of its history is that it was once a player piano, which is why it was deeper from front to back than most uprights.
It has the Agraffe Bridge Patd March 10th, 1896 marking on the metalwork, and somebody has initialled a piece of the woodwork: AL. You'll be pleased to know, AL, that your piano has given me years of pleasure.
Heintzman and Co were highly respected Canadian piano makers for well over a hundred years.
Helmut Kallmann and Patricia Wardrop have a very good article about the company on the Canadian Encyclopedia website.
The photo is of a Heinztman piano - not ours, however.
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