Model Piano (Simpson & Company)
The “Model Piano” brand piano is a rare small upright piano built by Simpson & Company of New York City. John B. Simpson started in the piano industry as secretary of the Arion Piano Company of New York during the Civil War era. Simpson was also building a small number of pianos under the name of “Simpson & Company” during this time. In about 1870, Simpson purchased the Arion Piano Company, integrating it into the firm of Simpson & Company. The firm manufactured pianos under the names of “Simpson & Company” as well as “Arion”, and built a very limited number of small, ornately carved upright pianos under the brand name of “Model Piano”.
These Model Pianos were unique for several reasons. They were rather diminutive in size, measuring only about 39 inches tall with another 10 inches of ornately carved cabinet work affixed to the top. These pianos also only had about 64 notes instead of the standard 88 note keyboards, and they only had one pedal which was used as the damper pedal. These Model Pianos were very small instruments, making them ideal for boudoirs and small rooms, yet they had an amazingly large tone quality due to their design and substantial craftsmanship.
In 1886, Simpson took Robert Proddow into partnership, and the name of the firm was changed to Simpson & Proddow. The “Model Piano” brand name is not listed after this change, indicating that the Model Piano brand was discontinued before the firm of Simpson & Proddow was established. Before the turn-of-the-century, the large Estey Organ Company took control of Simpson & Proddow, changing the name to the now famous Estey Piano & Organ Company.
INSTRUMENT CATALOGS & EPHEMERA
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Late 19th Century Photograph Of The Rare “Model Piano” Brand Upright Piano Manufactured By Simpson & Company, New York