The Conover Piano Company was established in 1883 by brothers J. Frank Conover and George Conover. Originally located in Kansas City, Missouri, the firm was known as “Conover Brothers”. By 1890, both brothers had relocated to Chicago to take advantage of the booming piano manufacturing industry there.
In 1904, The Conover Cable Company had the opportunity to bail The Mason & Hamlin Piano Company out of bankruptcy in the amount of $100,000. As a part of the deal, the Conover-Cable Company obtained the Mason and Hamlin dealerships, and had access to some of the designs of Richard Gertz of Mason and Hamlin.
Conover built five grand different grand piano models during the early 20th Century; the Model 66 which is 5 feet 5 inches, which also was called the “Fairy Grand”, the Model 77 around 5 feet 10 inches, the Model 88 which is 6 feet 4 inches, and then two which had Mason & Hamlin plates modified to show the Conover logo. These were the Model 99 which is a Mason BB, and the Model 100 which is the Mason and Hamlin CC1 at 9 feet 4 inches. The Fairy Grand had the Crownstay rim which had a single bar tension resonator and a circular system of beams for rim support. The other models had no tension resonator, but used plenty of lumber. The long side of the rim was often laminated white ash and eight inches thick.
The Conover warehouse in Chicago was directly behind the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which owned a Model 100. The Conover factory building, only a short distance from their store on Wabash Ave. was torn down in the early 1960s. Conover Cable Co. had two other factories, one in Oregon, Illinois which building is still standing and another in St. Charles, Illinois which has been torn down.
J. Frank Conover died in 1918 and Richard Gertz around 1920. Conover was ultimately absorbed into the giant Aeolian Corporation, and the Conover brand name was built well into the mid 20th Century.
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