John B. Dunham was one of the earliest and most celebrated piano makers in American history. Born in 1799, J. B. Dunham settled in New York City 1834 where he worked as a cabinet maker for the piano manufacturer of Nunns, Clark & Company.
Stodart, Worcester & Dunham: In 1836, J. B. Dunham went into partnership with Adam Stodart and Horatio Worcester to form the firm of “Stodart, Worcester & Dunham”. The firm was quite successful and enjoyed a superior reputation in the industry. This partnership lasted until 1844 at which time Worcester withdrew and the firm was reorganized as “Stodart & Dunham”.
Stodart & Dunham: In 1844, Worcester withdrew from the firm and the company was reorganized as “Stodart & Dunham”. Stodart & Dunham continued to manufacture pianos with great success until 1849 when Adam Stodart withdrew from the partnership.
J. B. Dunham: Dunham began building pianos under his own name of “J. B. Dunham” in 1849 when Adam Stodart withdrew from the partnership of “Stodart & Dunham”. During this period, Dunham employed the famous piano designer Frederick Mathushek who built one of the earliest over-strung square pianos for Dunham’s company. This improved “over-strung” design was hugely successful and gained nationwide recognition for J. B. Dunham’s firm.
J. B. Dunham & Company: In 1854 the firm was reorganized as “J. B. Dunham & Company”. By 1855 the firm is listed as having $45,000 of real capital, and employed 102 men and 11 boys at an average monthly wage of $44, and was producing as many as 600 pianos annually!
Dunham & Sons: In 1867, Dunham’s sons joined the firm and the company was reorganized as “Dunham & Sons”. J. B. Dunham died in 1873 and his sons continued to operate the firm.
Dunham Piano-Forte Manufacturing: In 1882, the firm was reorganized as “Dunham Piano-Forte Manufacturing”, with factories listed at Ave 4C and 155th Street.
Dunham Piano Company: In 1889, the firm was again reorganized as “The Dunham Piano Company” with factories at 412 East 23rd Street. The Dunham Piano Company appears to have gone out of business just after the turn-of-the-century.
During the 19th Century, these men built primarily square grand pianos. We have seen a handful of these instruments come through our shop over the years, and they are of excellent quality. Any instruments by the makers listed here are of museum caliber and deserve the finest restoration and preservation available.
INSTRUMENT CATALOGS & EPHEMERA
Can you find your instrument listed in these antique catalogs?