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The Trayser Piano Company was established in 1849 by George L. Trayser in Indianapolis, Indiana. The firm specialized in square grand pianos and reed organs in the early years, earning a good reputation for building very well made instruments. The following information was provided to The Antique Piano Shop by Mr. David C. Johnson and can be found on his WIKI page for Trayser: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Trayser


EARLY LIFE (1808 – 1865)

George L. Trayser (1808 – 1881) was a German-born American piano maker. He immigrated to the United States in 1849, and made pianos in Indianapolis and Richmond, Indiana.


Trayser was born in 1808 in Hesse-Darmstadt, Prussia which later became Darmstadt, Germany. Trayser apprenticed in piano making in German piano factories near Darmstadt. He married in Germany, and two sons were born in Neuchâtel, Switzerland: Frederick L. was born in 1840 and Paul was born in born 1842. Trayser owned a piano company in Switzerland prior to coming to the United States.


The family immigrated to the United States in 1849 and settled initially in Newport, Kentucky. Trayser started a small factory in Covington, Kentucky (Trayser & Co.), and had Morse & Guernsey as consignment agents in Louisville, Kentucky in 1851.


Trayser traded in and repaired pianos, and was granted his first patent for an upright piano in Cincinnati in 1853.  His younger brother Phillip, who lived in Baltimore, signed a guarantee for $1,000 in October 1853.  John A. Skiff was a sales agent for “Skiff & Trayser Piano Company” in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1854.  Unfortunately, Trayser struggled financially and was insolvent 1854-1856.  There were lawsuits about his debts until 1862.


In 1857, the Covington KY factory was destroyed by fire so Trayser moved his factory to Louisville, Kentucky.


In 1858, Trayser was a witness in an extensive church dispute in Lousville, Kentucky.  It was apparent that customers took advantage of Trayser, especially in written contracts, because Trayser did not yet read English. He was competent to hear and speak English in the trial.


Trayser moved to Indianapolis in 1859. He paid a manufacturing license tax to the state of Indiana in May 1864 in Indianapolis.  He also partnered with Col. William J. H. Robinson to form Trayser, Robinson & Co. in 1865.



Trayser moved the family to Maysville, Kentucky in 1865 and founded the Trayser Piano Forte Co.  Milo J. Chase was the President and General Manager, and G. Brambach, Jr. was Secretary. George Trayser made and supervised construction of the pianos.


Trayser moved his family to Richmond, Indiana in 1865 except for his son Frederick, who lived most of his life in Maysville, Kentucky.  Trayser also sold his pianos in Ripley, Ohio until 1871.


George L. Trayser became a naturalized US citizen in 1866 and was granted another patent for upright piano in Indianapolis in 1867.


 In 1869, Trayser established the Trayser Piano Company in Richmond, Indiana.


In 1873 Frederick Trayser was granted a patent for piano action in Maysville. He was listed in the Maysville city directory in 1876.


In 1875 George Trayser was granted another piano patent in Richmond.  In 1876 the family resided at 43 N Pearl, while the Trayser Piano Company was at 145 N 5th.


Trayser pianos were considered such good quality that in a blind vote contest in Cincinnati on 10 June 1876, there were 73 votes for Trayser and 43 for Steinway.  In a blind vote contest at Lyceum Hall in Richmond on 8 September 1876, the vote was 120 for Trayser and 70 for Steinway!



In October 1876 the Trayser Piano Company had rooms in Lyceum Hall for offices and warerooms, sharing those rooms with Hoosier Organ Co. and Professor Rhu, music teacher.


In October 1876 construction began on a new piano factory. It was 80' x 125' and 3.5 stories built in the location of the old woolen mills.


In September 1877 the Valley Gem of Ripley, Ohio merged into Trayser Piano Company (including Milo J. Chase and 16 workmen). The Trayser Piano Company made the Trayser upright, the Valley Gem Square and the Chase Square Grand.


November 1877 marked the opening of the Trayser-Chase ware rooms at Main and Pearl in Richmond.


George Trayser withdrew from making pianos in 1878 at age 70.


In 1878 the family resided at 85 S 6th, while in 1879 the family resided at 45 N Washington.


His son Paul started the Richmond Piano Company in 1879.


SUCCESSORS (1878-1950)

In 1878 the Trayser Piano Company was subsumed into the Chase Piano Company in Richmond.


In 1884 the Chase Piano Company became the James M. Starr & Company.


In 1893 all the above companies merged into the Starr Piano Company.   This company continued making pianos in Richmond under the names Starr, Trayser & Richmond, as well as several others, until the 1950s.



George Trayser died in 1881 in Richmond, Indiana, at the age of 73.


Trayser Piano Advertisements 19th Century Advertisements For The Trayser Piano Company, Circa About 1876
Skiff & Trayser Advertisement 19th Century Advertisement For Skiff & Trayser, Cincinnati, Ohio