Very rare Kramer “Kewpie” Mini-Grand Player Piano in Exquisite Red Chinoiserie Decorated Case
In about 1928 the illustrious M. Schulz Piano Company introduced a limited number of tiny “Child Size” baby grand pianos under the “Marionette” label. Several different firms including the Kramer Piano Company of New York made a major investment in the manufacturing of these Schulz Marionette pianos. The Kramer Piano Company contracted Schulz to build a number of these instruments for Kramer under the “Kewpie” label. (Note the term “Kewpie”, much like the term “Marionette”, seems to refer to a small doll that was popular during the early 20th Century period).
Measuring only 46 inches wide and 44 inches long, these little pianos were real pianos with the tone quality of an ordinary baby grand piano, but their diminutive size made them ideal for wealthy children’s play rooms, dance clubs, boudoirs, etc. Because piano technology had reached its peak in the 1920’s, these tiny pianos were thoroughly modern in design and the science and craftsmanship behind them resulted in a piano that sounded like a much larger instrument.
The tiny Marionette baby grand was available in two basic models; a conventional baby grand piano and an expressive “reproducing” player piano. The player pianos were equipped with the Schulz patented “Aria Divina” expressive reproducing player mechanism which played the piano with real human dynamics.
The firm had great plans to market these little pianos in large numbers. They were advertised as being offered in natural wood finishes as well as elaborately decorated black, red and green Chinoiserie-style cases. When the Great Depression hit in 1929, production was discontinued shortly after it started, resulting in few of these instruments having been built.
This piano is an example of the Expressive Reproducing Player Piano offered on the Kramer Kewpie. The instrument is finished in a brilliant red finish with exquisitely detailed hand-painted Chinoiserie. The tone of these little pianos will surprise you; the sound quality is comparable to a traditional baby grand, and those who hear them are amazed!
This piano plays traditional perforated paper music rolls. Player piano rolls are still be made today, and thousands of song titles are available!
The original matching bench is included.