“Ebersole” pianos were named for Joseph G. Ebersole, a partner in The Smith & Nixon Piano Company. Smith & Nixon is first listed as a large-scale piano and organ retailer in Cincinnati as early as 1843. In 1852, Smith & Nixon built a substantial auditorium as part of it’s store on Fourth between Main and Walnut Streets. By 1883 the firm was selling several popular piano lines including Chickering & Sons and others, with additional warerooms in Lexington, Louisville and Indianapolis.
In 1890, The Smith & Nixon Piano Company began building their own pianos in addition to selling pianos of other popular brand names. In 1889, Joseph G. Ebersole joined the firm, at which time the firm added a successful line of pianos sold under the “Ebersole” brand name. Smith & Nixon operated out of two large factories, one in Cincinnati and one in rural Norwood, Ohio. Smith & Nixon pianos were well-made, expensive instruments and they enjoyed a superior reputation in the industry. Unable to balance the pursuit for perfection with profitability, the firm encountered financial difficulty and closed in bankruptcy in 1909.
When the firm was dissolved in 1909, The Goldsmith Piano Company of New York purchased the “Smith & Nixon” brand name and continued to build pianos under the “Smith & Nixon” name until the Great Depression.
James H. Butler, a former employee of Smith & Nixon, purchased the Cincinnati factory and established “The Butler Brothers Piano Company”. Butler Brothers continued building pianos under the “Ebersole” brand name until 1924.
In 1911, Brothers Ernest J. Knabe Jr. and William Knabe III, descendants of the famous Wm. Knabe & Co. of Baltimore, purchased the Norwood factory and established the firm of “Knabe Brothers”.
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