Built in 1921, this Yamaha upright somehow made the journey from Japan to the United States, despite having been manufactured 40 years before Yamaha began exporting pianos across the Pacific Ocean.
The influence on today’s U-series, perennial favorites of Yamaha keyboard line, is clear in the basic design, from the height to the empire lid that folds back. Today’s upright models are more streamlined, with straight legs and a flat front panel, both free of embellishments. Additionally, while much of the playing mechanism inside resembles today’s pianos, the action is secured with hooks on each end rather than today’s modern system of bolts.
Make and Model: Shoninger Upright Serial Number: 3079
Founded in New Haven, Connecticut in 1850, the B. Shoninger Co. (later the Shoninger Piano Co.) produced this beautiful rosewood upright in 1885 — the year the Statue of Liberty arrived in New York Harbor.
Built during the era when pianos were the centerpiece of home entertainment, this full-size upright — a height no longer in production by piano manufacturers — epitomizes craftsmanship. The case is full of intricate, decorative woodwork, especially in the cutout-laden front and lower panels. Conveniently, each leg contains a music storage cupboard (hey, it’s easier than standing up and getting it out of the bench, right?). Also distinctive is the sizeable lid ornament containing a carving of German philosopher Johann Wolfgang van Goethe’s face.