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Jan 19 09 9:17 AM

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Now here's something really interesting and unusual.

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=120360972698

To my eyes, it bears more than a passing resemblance to the Harper Electric Piano, which I believe worked on a kicking-shoe system, rather than a pneumatic one. Here's an old advert for the Harper.

http://www.pianola.com/harper.htm

What do others make of all this?

Regards,

Ian McLaughlin

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#1 [url]

Jan 9 09 5:12 PM

this is a really interesting item, specially for the Dutch.... as the NPV (Nederlandse Pianola Vereniging) is currently restoring A Kessels pianola (normal one)

Kessels was a factory in Tilburg, the only Dutch factory ever to make player piano's.
The Kessels family is currently working to open a museum about this factory and the player piano the NPV is restoring will be in that museum too.

This item is a great museum item too, the idea has come up to buy it on account of the NPV to have it restored too, nothing for sure yet, but it'd sure be a nice project for sure.

If I had room I'd already placed a bid.

-- Phonola 73-note vorsetzer (in restoration) -- Steck pedal electric Duo-Art (in restoration too) -- Citroën Dyane (drives great, but needs restoration too)

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#2 [url]

Jan 17 09 7:00 PM

Hi All.

Re: Kessels: It was I. Apologies to any other members who were bidding. Sorry, Niels! I was just so intrigued by the thing that I couldn't resist...

Will post photos when I get my hands on it.

Rob.

1903 Cecilian, Aeolian push-up, Crowley 65/88 upright, Phantom keytop...

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#3 [url]

Jan 17 09 7:40 PM

well, highest bidder wins...... better luck next time for us.

to explain for the rest:

We, some people of the dutch pianola association and board members of the Kessels museum in Tilburg, brought together a sum to bid on this instrument, which is very important in the history of the Kessels company (it wasn't know till the ebay advertising appeared that Kessels build such instrument (could be they were just a dealer for the instrument, but most likely the piano is build in the Tilburg factory. Rob will be able to tell more about that when he gets it).

I'm glad that even though we didn't win, we can have a certain level of access to this instrument trough Rob. we can't wait to see more pictures and learn more of it's operation.

-- Phonola 73-note vorsetzer (in restoration) -- Steck pedal electric Duo-Art (in restoration too) -- Citroën Dyane (drives great, but needs restoration too)

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#4 [url]

Jan 21 09 10:20 PM

Aha! Found it! I pulled out my Q D Bowers Mechanical Music Encyclopedia and turned to where I thought I'd seen one of these and there it was!

If you have the book go to the Dienst Orchestrion section. The mechanism in the Kessels is a Hupfeld Patent piano player mechansim and the whole thing is a single unit that fits beneath the keyboard. Various makers made and fitted these under license from Hupfeld. It's really early - the very beginning to the 1910s! And, yes, although the came with a crank, electric operation was normal as they were typically intended for commercial use.

What's interesting is at the lower corner of the page is a grand fitted with the system. The spool box is beneath the curved part of the back of the piano case ... in exactly the same spot where in the Im Aufnahmesalon Hupfeld book (or whatever it' called! ) shows a connection under the piano. As hand-played Phonola rolls were first recorded during the period this (now) unusual type of commercial piano-player mechanism was being made this raises a few interesting thoughts....

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#5 [url]

Jan 22 09 12:03 AM

Adam Ramet wrote:
Im Aufnahmesalon Hupfeld book (or whatever it' called! )


as it is laying next to me right now: yes, that's exactly what it's called! ;)

-- Phonola 73-note vorsetzer (in restoration) -- Steck pedal electric Duo-Art (in restoration too) -- Citroën Dyane (drives great, but needs restoration too)

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#6 [url]

Jan 22 09 11:34 AM

Aha indeed! Sherlock Ramet strikes again.

Dug out my copy of Bowers. (Ever tried holding that great lump in one hand while manipulating a laptop with the other?)

Has to be the Hupfeld. I'm still waiting to get the thing delivered, but watch this space...

1903 Cecilian, Aeolian push-up, Crowley 65/88 upright, Phantom keytop...

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#7 [url]

Feb 1 09 3:47 PM

Well, it's arrived.

Here's what I can tell you so far:

The piano part was overhauled in 1995. Despite having lived in a Lincolnshire garage, it's almost in tune.

Somebody has definitely had the player apart relatively recently. What lurks within is as yet unknown.

Lots of vacuum on rewind. Not a lot on play, but trying. (You can test the player without it having to be reinstalled. Just wind the handle!)

Can't find a maker's name on the player, only a serial number, 1468. Sixty-one striking pneumatics. Horizontal valves.

Twenty-odd playable rolls. Light classical to popular. Carmen, Zampa, Poet and Peasant, Strauss, Sousa. The Charlie Chaplin Foxtrot. And something called 'Widows are Wonderful!'

'Kessels' on the fallboard. Dutch coat-of-arms (pre 190 attached to the frame, covering the serial number. Keyboard appears to have been bought in.

Very similar to the Hupfeld player in Bowers, although that seems to have vertical pneumatics (?)

Please let me know if you'd like photos of any other bits of it.

OK. What have I done this time?

Rob.



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1903 Cecilian, Aeolian push-up, Crowley 65/88 upright, Phantom keytop...

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#8 [url]

Feb 2 09 5:07 PM

wow! what a fabulous piece of kit!

The Charlie Chaplin foxtrot is around 1915 (I have a sheetmusic copy of it here in some old folio) and Widows are Wonderful is a Nat Ayer tune around 1918 I think!

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#9 [url]

Feb 7 09 12:32 PM

Hello all. Rob, congratulations with the Kessels Piano. Any new discoveries about the players secrets?
As Niels wrote, there was a smal group in the Netherlands who did the bidding on ebay to acquire the piano for the Kessels Instruments Museum. I am one of them. Thanks for the nice pictures.
I use to do the lay-out and printing of the Dutch Pianola Bulletin. Do you mind if I would use some of these for our Bulletin? I would like to know if you could find out who made the rolls. Was it Hupfeld or Kessels? If it was Kessels who made them it would be an interesting discovery. Could you post a picture of one of the rolls?
There exist at least one other Kessels player. It is however of a more conventional design intended for home use. It looked if it had been found inside Titanic but is being restored now. When ready we can provide some pictures if you like. Beste wishes, Mark

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#10 [url]

Feb 7 09 9:25 PM

Mark wrote:
It looked if it had been found inside Titanic but is being restored now.



Funny you mentioned that , Titanic did have at least one player Piano and it was located in the 1st Class Dining room ,and the piano was used on Sundays for church services (as seen in the hit 1997 Movie of the same name).I will try and see if i can find out out what brand name it was.
Daniel

*1907: Orchestrelle Model V .
*1911 Steinway 65/88 Model I
*1912: Weber Pianola Grand. (currenty been
restored)
*1920: Weber Duo Art upright.

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#11 [url]

Feb 7 09 10:29 PM

we don't know yet, but the hobby of the former owner was deep-see-diving, with a speciality of bringing up heavy items ;-).....

-- Phonola 73-note vorsetzer (in restoration) -- Steck pedal electric Duo-Art (in restoration too) -- Citroën Dyane (drives great, but needs restoration too)

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#13 [url]

Feb 8 09 1:39 AM

andypandy92 wrote:
Hi,

I read somewhere that an Aeolian instrument (Orchestrelle?) was destined for the Titanic but because it wasn't ready in time it never made it on board....

Andy

Your close Andy , but it was in fact for the 3rd and final Sister the RMS Britannic.The 1st world war broke out and she was rushed into duty to become a Hospital ship.The organ was in fact going to be a Welte and to this day is in a museum as never made it to the ship to be installed.If it was installed it was going to grace the 1st Class staircase (i think it would of been awfully loud as that space is not big and the combination of the lino floor and oak walls)

The mystery of this organ was only solved about 10-20 years ago , when the Welte was been reburished and chalk markings with the ships name was uncovered......very interesting stuff.

*1907: Orchestrelle Model V .
*1911 Steinway 65/88 Model I
*1912: Weber Pianola Grand. (currenty been
restored)
*1920: Weber Duo Art upright.

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#14 [url]

Feb 8 09 12:09 PM

A Dutch researcher found out that that there never was a Welte organ ordered for Titanic. It was one of the lies that the Welte family found out to raise the value of one of their (used) instruments after the war. There also was a Steinway-Welte they sold to an American. It would have belonged to Hitler. I never saw foto's or films of Hitler playing rolls on his Welte. Rolls of Wagners Tannhäuser probably?

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#15 [url]

Feb 8 09 1:00 PM

Hi All.

A bit more info:

Tracker bar holes are 1/8" wide, on a 3/16" pitch. Definitely not six to the inch. There are 61 note-playing holes, three large holes and one lonely hole on the far left which lacks a connector on the back. This is OK, because there are only 64 input nipples on the valve chest. (There are 65 valves, though, but one of them has been blanked off. Phew!)

The valve chest also has connectors for external pneumatics marked Sustain and Motor Off, which accounts for two of the large holes in the tracker. Which leaves the last for rewind. Motor start is electric via the coin box. So far so good.

61 notes is the same as Hupfeld's electric pianos of around 1902, according to Orde-Hume.

Vacuum is regulated only by a spill valve on the main reservoir.

There is another connector to main vacuum, also blanked off. Mandolin rail perhaps, with a separate valve plumbed into that spare hole on the tracker?

Rolls are 13 3/8" wide, more or less. Nothing that says 'Kessels', sadly. Some English, some German. Some anonymous, but titled in French.

The roll centre has a built in trip lever like the one on the take-up spool, in case the paper comes off altogether.

If there's a maker's name on the player, it's very well hidden!

Mark - please feel free to use anything you need, and don't be afraid to ask for more...


Regards, Rob.


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1903 Cecilian, Aeolian push-up, Crowley 65/88 upright, Phantom keytop...

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#16 [url]

Mar 17 09 11:31 AM

Right then. The innards.

It's all very no-frills, no nonsense. This isn't a Keyless Welte. It's a pub piano with an engine.

The heart of the player is remarkably compact. Single-valve action, horizontal valves. So no gravity assistance there.


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Pouch board comes off.


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Pouches are formed from a single piece of leather, and are in good condition. Even better after the Hydrophane treatment. As it isn't too difficult to remove the pouch board in situ, I'll leave it as it is. I think there is a fair bit of life in it yet.


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Bleeds are tiny metal tubes. Corrosion appears to be surface only. Interestingly, these have marked the inner surface of the valve chest. A little too close, I feel.


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That row of dots above the valve buttons is where the corrosion from the bleeds has jumped the gap.


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And still no sign of a maker's name...!

1903 Cecilian, Aeolian push-up, Crowley 65/88 upright, Phantom keytop...

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#17 [url]

Mar 17 09 12:02 PM

it's a Hupfeld action

I was given the Ord-Hume book on automatic piano's by a friend, and the instrument is in it with a picture.
I can't publish it here unless I ask permission first as mr. Ord-Hume really wants his copyright to be respected

-- Phonola 73-note vorsetzer (in restoration) -- Steck pedal electric Duo-Art (in restoration too) -- Citroën Dyane (drives great, but needs restoration too)

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#20 [url]

Dec 27 10 7:24 PM

Here's a piano on youtube with a somewhat similar system. the pneumatic stack is different, this is a Kuhl & Klatt, it realle resembles the Hupfeld system in Rob's piano, but has vertical pneumatics.
would Kuhl & klatt have bought a Hupfeld to copy it?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKtCszqpMkg

-- Phonola 73-note vorsetzer (in restoration) -- Steck pedal electric Duo-Art (in restoration too) -- Citroën Dyane (drives great, but needs restoration too)

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