Lyon & Healy was established in Chicago by George W. Lyon and Patrick J. Healy in 1864. The firm began as a large retailer of sheet music, musical instruments and related merchandise. Early history of the firm is vague as most of the company records were destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Lyon & Healy began manufacturing their own pianos and organs in about 1876. Although the partnership of Lyon & Healy began in 1864, some pianos were sold under the name of “George W. Lyon” during this period. In 1878, the firm patented their “Cottage Upright”, a small boudoir-size upright piano that enjoyed great success. In addition to their “Cottage Upright”, the firm originally built a limited number of square pianos, ultimately increasing upright piano production as the 19th Century grew to a close.
Lyon & Healy began building harps in 1889 and quickly became the most successful builder of concert harps in the world. Harps by Lyon & Healy were known to be durable and stable in harsh climates, unlike the more delicate harps built in European countries. The Lyon & Healy name went on to become synonamous with the finest concert harps ever built.
By the early 20th Century, Lyon & Healy was building a complete line of upright pianos, player pianos, and grand pianos. The firm also produced pianos under the “Washburn” brand name as an affordable alternative to the costlier Lyon & Healy brand name. Lyon & Healy also built a full line of musical instruments including brass & woodwind. The firm also built several lines of pipe organs for both church and home use. The firm continued to grow and expand and ultimately became the largest sheet music distributor in the world by 1930.
During the Great Depression, Lyon & Healy’s piano division was absorbed into The Everett Piano Company. Everett continued to build pianos under the “Lyon & Healy” brand name until the 1970’s when Steinway & Sons (then owned by CBS) purchased all rights to the Lyon & Healy name. Steinway/CBS closed all Lyon & Healy retail stores and sold off all interests in musical instruments and sheet music distribution in order to allow the firm to concentrate on their harp manufacturing. Although their pianos were discontinued in the 1970s, Lyon & Healy harps are still being produced in Chicago today.
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