Marshall, James & Traver
The firm of Marshall & Traver was established in Albany, NY in 1836 as a retailer of pianos, organs and related musical instruments. Marshall & Traver began building instruments under their own name in 1853. Their factory was located on James Street, Albany NY. In 1855 Mr. Amos C. James was admitted into partnership and the firm was reorganized as Marshall, James & Traver. In 1868 James & Traver withdrew from the firm and Mr. C. V. Wendell was admitted into partnership. The firm was once again reorganized as “Marshall & Wendell”. In 1882, the firm was officially incorporated as “The Marshall & Wendell Piano Company“.
In 1900 the firm moved headquarters from Albany to Rochester, New York and continued rapid growth and success. After the turn-of-the-century, Marshall & Wendell instruments continued to be considered to be made of superior quality and fine craftsmanship. Their small grand pianos were particularly popular because of their exceptional design and tone quality. Marshall & Wendell specialized in building elaborate “art-case” pianos in historic and period design styles. Many of these pianos were equipped with the “AMPICO” reproducing player mechanism, allowing the piano to play by itself with expression with human interpretation.
Marshall & Wendell retained their own art department of skilled painters and carvers who specialized in building custom-designed instruments on special order. In the early 20th Century, it was not uncommon for a wealthy client to visit the Marshall & Wendell, choose the instrument they preferred among all others, then have the factory commission their art department build a custom cabinet around the instrument they chose. Once a piano was chosen for it’s tone quality, a small fortune was then spent to have the cabinet custom made to suit the client’s décor! Many of these custom-built Marshall & Wendell pianos were incredibly expensive to produce and were remarkable works of art.
Like most major American piano manufactures, Marshall & Wendell was absorbed into the Aeolian-American Corporation due to the Great Depression. Aeolian continued to produce the Marshall & Wendell brand name until the 1950s.
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Marshall, James & Traver Advertisements
Mid-19th Century Sales Advertisements For The Marshall, James & Traver Piano Company (later Marshall & Wendell) Circa 1852