Perhaps the most famous and most successful of all piano manufacturers in history was the W.W. Kimball Piano Company of Chicago. William Wallace Kimball founded what was to become one of the largest piano companies in the world in 1857. W.W. Kimball was an amazing entrepreneur and sales genius, and was able to promote his pianos on a nationwide basis that was very much ahead of its time. Prior to 1888, most pianos sold by Kimball were actually built by other manufacturers such as Hallet & Davis, Emerson, Chickering & Sons, and J. P. Hale.
Kimball began manufacturing their own pianos in 1888 and the firm grew very quickly. Kimball’s manufacturing plant was one of the largest in the industry, and by the turn-of-the-century, Kimball was manufacturing around 20,000 pianos annually! In addition to their own Kimball brand, the firm produced a number of other brand names including Hinze, Dunbar, Whitney and Harrison.
In 1959, Kimball was sold to The Jasper-American Corporation under the name of Kimball International. The Jasper-American Corporation controlled several brand names including Kimball, W.W. Kimball, Jasper-American, Becker, Conn, DeVoe & Son, Harrison, Hinze, Krakauer, La Petite, Schuerman, Whitmore, Whitney and Whittaker. The World Famous Bosendorfer Piano Company of Vienna became a part of Kimball International in 1966. The Kimball piano name was discontinued in 1996.
We see quite a few antique Kimball pianos come through our restoration shop. One might assume that since Kimball was built in large numbers and sold at an affordable price that Kimball pianos must be mediocre at best. However, our experience has been that pre-depression era Kimball pianos are exceptionally well made, good sounding instruments. A typical Kimball turn-of-the-century upright piano has longer strings and a larger soundboard than most upright pianos, and the tone quality (especially in the bass) can be exceptional in a restored antique Kimball piano.
INSTRUMENT CATALOGS & EPHEMERA
Can you find your instrument listed in these antique catalogs?
Illustrated Sales Catalog For W.W. Kimball Piano Company featuring World Columbian Exposition Awards of 1893
Illustrated Piano Sales Catalog for W.W. Kimball Piano Company, Circa 1900
Illustrated Organ Sales Catalog for W.W. Kimball Piano Company, Circa 1900
70th Anniversary Sales Catalog for the Kimball Piano Company featuring their Upright Pianos, Player Pianos and Grand Pianos, Circa 1927
Illustrated Sales Catalog for the Kimball Piano Company featuring their Upright Pianos, Player Pianos, and Grand Pianos, Circa 1931
75th Anniversary Sales Catalog for the Kimball Piano Company featuring their Upright Pianos, Player Pianos and Grand Pianos, Circa 1927
Kimball Piano Advertisements
Period Advertisements For The W.W. Kimball Piano Company Chicago
Period Organ Advertisements For The Kimball Piano Company, Chicago
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