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    Conover

    (SEE ALSO CABLE PIANO COMPANY) The Conover Piano Company was established in about 1880 by brothers J. Frank 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 1890, the famous Cable Piano Company of Chicago consolidated with Conover Brothers. Shortly thereafter, the firm acquired the Schiller Piano Company, using both Conover and Schiller instruments as their 'top of the line' models. In 1904, The Conover Cable Company had the opportunity to bail the Mason and Hamlin Piano Co. out of bankruptcy to the tune of $100,000. At that point, Conover Cable Company obtained the Mason and Hamlin dealerships, and had access to some of the designs of Richard Gertz of Mason and Hamlin. During the period from 1904 until they sold to Aeolian, they made five grand models; 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 Cable Piano Company was widely celebrated as a maker of fine instruments, and they were a major contributor to the American piano industry at large. Cable built a number of brand names including Kingsbury, Wellington, Schiller, Conover, and Euphona player pianos. Today, Conover pianos are among some of the finest antique pianos we see come through our shop and they are well worth restoration. 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.

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