1885 Chickering Upright Piano


This custom-designed piano is one of the most elaborately carved upright pianos we've had in our collection. The instrument was originally done in a black lacquer finish, and a previous owner has replaced the original burgundy silk with bright red velvet. Although remarkably well-preserved, the instrument requires complete restoration in order to be usable and tunable long term.


This customized piano was purchased by an interior designer to match the interior of her home. Since the piano is a primary focal point, the designer worked closely with our finishing team to achieve a customized finish in antique white lacquer with gold and copper accents. The instrument was internally restored to perform like new in order be used for functions, parties and general entertaining in her home.

Scroll down to see the piano restoration process!

About this piano:  Chickering pianos are known to be of superior quality.  This reputation was earned by Chickering's constant drive to improve and perfect the design of the instrument.  During the 19th Century, Chickering went through constant evolution and change so many of their older instruments are of obscure design.  Parts for these older obscure models are not readily available from common piano suppliers, so less experienced piano tuners may discourage their restoration and preservation.  Luckily, our shop is set up to manufacture these obscure parts for restoration and we now specialize in restoring these obscure pianos!

This custom-designed piano was one of the most elaborately carved pianos in our collection.  We were honored to sell this piano to an interior designer who chose it to match her own personal home.  Originally finished in black lacquer, our client worked closely with our artisans to achieve an antique white lacquer finish with gold and copper highlights. The end result was absolutely stunning! This project is a good example of some of the custom finishing work we can do for our clients.

A vintage Chickering that has been professionally restored with historically accurate parts and materials can be one of the finest instruments available.  Although restoration of an older Chickering may be more expensive than more conventional brands, the end result is well worth the investment.  Antique Chickering pianos are well restoration and preservation and they hold their value quite well.

Scroll down to see the piano restoration process!

Piano Restoration Process:

Assessment & Disassembly

At nearly 140 years old, this piano is remarkably well-preserved!  The original black lacquer finish is bruised and battered and the interior is dirty and in need of restoration.  The old ivory and ebony keys are worn and discolored, but very restorable.

Every individual part of the piano is carefully disassembled, labeled and recorded.  The elaborate CHICKERING decals are copied and measured so that they can be replaced with historical accuracy.  The piano action is assessed in order to determine what new parts are needed, which parts are readily available, and which of the obscure parts will have to be fabricated in our shop.

Piano Restoration Process:

Cabinet Repair & Refinishing

This customized finish was ordered by an interior designer who purchased the instrument for her own home.  The interior designer worked closely with our team to achieve the exact color and sheen required to match her decor.

The original black lacquer finish is removed to the bare wood underneath.  Each individual piece is carefully repaired and re-glued and several missing pieces of delicate carved detail are reproduced by our experts.  Once the cabinet is repaired and sanded, the wood is sealed so that the customized antique white lacquer finish can be applied.  Multiple coats of white lacquer are applied to the cabinet, then antique glaze is applied to give the instrument an darkened and aged patina.  Different shades of gold and copper glaze are hand-rubbed into the carved accents, giving the instrument a beautiful distressed and antique appearance.

Piano Restoration Process:

Soundboard Repair & Re-Stringing

The old brittle strings were covered with rust and no longer able to be tuned.  The strings were removed and the old-growth wood soundboard was restored.  The original bridges were badly damaged so new bridge caps were hand-made for the piano to ensure the finest tone quality.   New strings are then installed on the restored soundboard and bridges.

Piano Restoration Process:

Action & Keyboard Restoration

The interior action and keyboard is in remarkable condition for its age!  Because of the obscure design of this early piano, many of the interior action parts must be custom made in our shop by our experts.  The piano gets new hammers, dampers, bushings, felts and leather.  The original ivory keys are repaired, bleached and polished and the ebony sharps are refinished in black lacquer.  The instrument is carefully regulated and tuned, and is finally ready to be delivered to it's new owner!



This beautiful piano was a special order from an interior designer as a focal piece in her own custom home.  The piano was restored in a customized antique white finish with gold and copper accents, a special technique done to give the instrument a distressed aged and antique patina.  Although the piano is almost 140 years old, the piano will be used for parties and events, standing ready to serve it's new owner for another generation.

This piano serves as an example of customized finishing services we our clients.


Learn more about restoring your heirloom instrument!

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    Friendsville, TN 37737

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