The Van Winkle family of New York City was very active in pianos manufacturing during the pre-Civil War era. The family members consisted of David Van Winkle, John D. Van Winkle, Cornelius Van Winkle, and Abraham I. Van Winkle. David Van Winkle, the most prominent and successful maker of the Van Winkle family, is listed as having his first workshop at 128 Hammond Street in 1841. David was awarded a gold medal for ‘Best Piano Exhibited’ at the American Institute Fair in 1849. By the 1860’s, his firm was listed at 180 West Houston Street, New York City. There is no mention of David Van Winkle after the onset of the Civil War. John D. Van Winkle is listed as building pianos under his name from about 1848 â 1855. John Van Winkle was awarded a diploma for his piano exhibited at the American Institute Fair in 1848. Cornelius Van Winkle was active in the piano business from about 1855 â 1859. It is likely that Cornelius worked with David Van Winkle while at the same time building pianos under his own name. Abraham Van Winkle was likely the least prominent maker of the Van Winkle family, as he is listed as being active in the business only from 1843 -1846. Abraham left the piano industry to pursue other business interests in 1847. Instruments by the Van Winkle family are exceedingly rare today. All of the extent instruments we have seen by any of these related firms have been square grand pianos, indicating that the firms may have not produced upright or grand pianos. There is mention, however, of melodeons being built under the Van Winkle names. There is no mention of the Van Winkle family in our archives after about 1863, indicating that the firms were out of business before the Civil War.
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