“John Kearsing” and his sons emigrated from England to New York City shortly after the turn of the 19th Century to establish themselves in the American piano industry. The family members consisted of John Kearsing and his sons George Kearsing, Thomas Kearsing, and William Kearsing. They initially met with substantial success, and it was reported that their firm was the largest in New York City prior to 1830. The Kearsing family business was originally established as “J. Kearsing & Sons” in 1804, then from 1810 – 1816 was known as “J. Kearsing & Son”. After about 1816, the sons had left the original firm to establish their own shops, and John Kearsing worked alone until about 1836 when it appears he retired from the piano industry.
“Thomas Kearsing” left his father’s firm in about 1816 to establish his own firm. In 1832, Thomas Kearsing admitted his two sons into partnership and established “T. Kearsing & Sons”. Thomas Kearsing exhibited a square grand piano at the American Institute Fair in 1836, winning third place among many competing manufacturers. T. Kearsing & Sons was dissolved in 1842, and Thomas Kearsing continued to build pianos under his own name until about 1855.
“William Kearsing” built pianos under his own name in New York City from about 1837 – 1838. In about 1839 William Kearsing moved to Richmond, Virginia to establish his firm in piano manufacturing, tuning & repair. William Kearsing appears to have left the industry in about 1844.
“George Kearsing” was apparently the youngest of the Kearsing family members. He established his own firm in about 1838 after his father’s retirement from the business. By 1855, George Kearsing is listed as having a crew of 3 men that were producing about 25 pianos annually. His firm continued in business on a smaller scale throughout the 1860s. There is no mention of George Kearsing being active in the piano industry after about 1870.
All of the extent instruments we have seen by any of these related firms have been square pianos, indicating that the firms may have not produced upright pianos or grand pianos. Instruments with the Kearsing name are very rare today, and are consistently of very good quality.
INSTRUMENT CATALOGS & EPHEMERA
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19th Century Advertisement For Geroge Kearsing, Piano Maker, New York City