The following information was kindly submitted to The Antique Piano Shop from Mr. Mark Bennett, the Great-Great Grandson of Arthur Otto Bollermann, founder of Bollermann & Son Piano Company:
The Bollermann family tradition of piano making begins with Dominic Carl Leopold Bollermann, born in 1807 in Bavaria, and immigrating to New York City in 1849. Leopold came from a line of old-world craftsmen: clock makers, instrument makers, silversmiths, etc. He made and even invented various keyboard instruments back in Germany, but focused on pianos in New York. Several of his sons and grandsons worked as piano makers in New York, too, although there is no evidence that any of them worked together until 1888, when Leopold’s son Arthur, and Arthur’s eldest son, Arthur Martin, began doing business as Bollermann & Son at 208 E. 117th Street in Manhattan.
Bollermann & Son moved their business to 627 East 142nd Street in the Bronx in 1894 and to 458 East 144th Street in 1897. They lost everything there in a fire on 9 Sep 1900. After the fire, Arthur Martin worked for a few years as a piano tuner before starting to build pianos on his own (as A. M. Bollermann) at 59 East 125th Street. The elder Arthur restarted operations of Bollermann & Son in 1901 at 515 East 132nd Street, but without Arthur Martin. By 1908, he was making pianos at 271 East 132nd Street, still without Arthur Martin. This was the last location where the elder Arthur made pianos, and is the factory shown on their business card. A. M. Bollermann operations were at 148 East 129th Street in 1909, and at 285 East 137th Street from 1911 to 1917. In 1918, A. M. Bollermann appears to have taken over the building on the corner of Lincoln Avenue and 132nd Street from Bollermann & Son, whose operation appears to have ceased at this point. Both A. M. Bollermann and Bollermann & Son disappear after that year.
There are many contemporary references to “Bollermann & Son” (i.e. in the singular), in city directories, trade publications, government documents, etc. I have found only one contemporary reference in the plural, and that only incidentally mentions the company name. The piano in the photo (which came from an internet ad) is an 1890 vintage, and clearly shows the label, “Bollermann & Son”. Their business card from around 1910, give or take a few years, shows the name as “Bollermann & Son”. Lastly, Alfred Dolge lists only Bollerman [sic] & Son in the comprehensive appendix to his 1911 book, Pianos and their makers. The business card showing the last factory, the one on the corner of Lincoln Avenue and 132nd Street in the Bronx, indicates that Bollermann & Son was established in 1880. However, this card was not printed until more than twenty-five years after that date, and no known document lists the name Bollermann & Son before 1888. It should be noted also that Arthur Martin was born about 1870, so would have been only about ten years old in 1880.
INSTRUMENT CATALOGS & EPHEMERA
Can you find your instrument listed in these antique catalogs?
Early 20th Century Illustrated Sales Catalog for A. M. Bollermann Piano Company, Circa 1913
Bollerman & Son Turn of the Century Business Card
Turn-Of-The-Century Business Card For Bollermann & Son Piano Company