Me: Can you tell us a little about our piano? We might want to have y'all come out and service it or something. And if you could tell us what it might be worth, that help, too.
Tech: I can give you kind of a ballpark estimate on that, for anything firmer, like insurance purposes or something, we'd need to evaluate it in person.
Me: Well, we've been told it's an antique that is worth quite a bit of money.
Tech (laughs knowingly): Oh, wow. That's nice. What is the maker?
Me: That is sort of hard to read. Kellen & Co.? Hellen & Co.? Not sure. It's a little faded. But it says very distinctly 'Upright Grand'.
Tech (laughs again): Upright grand? That's an oxymoron. It has to be one or the other. Is it tall, or flat?
Me: Tall. Very tall. 5 feet easy, maybe more.
Tech: So it's an upright. Look inside the cabinet for some sort of nameplate. You might even find a serial number in there.
Me: Ah, yeah. Heller & Co., New York, serial 11101.
Tech: Ok, give me a second to look it up. (Puts me on hold, comes back about 2 minutes later.) Ok, sorry for the wait. Your piano was built in 1910. You're right, they were marketed as 'Upright Grands', but that was just a marketing scheme. Says here your piano, if it is in good condition, you could maybe get $300 for it. What sort of work do you want done on it? Just a standard tuning, or is there something more that needs to be done?
Tech: Hello? Are you still there?
Me: Sorry, yes, I am here. We just thought it was worth, you know, a lot more than that.
Tech: Oh yeah, that happens a lot. Well, you never know. Sometimes you get people who are interested in these things purely as pieces of furniture. You might be able to get more money that way. But as a piano? We'd call something like yours a 'Landfill Piano'.
Me: A what?
Tech (laughs): A Landfill Piano. Oh yeah, I mean, you could spend some money on a rebuild or something, and we'd be glad to help you with that. But they don't make the parts for these pianos anymore, so if you wanted to replace the action or something, we'd have to machine new parts. It would be a pretty pricey thing to do. If you want a nice piano, you're probably better off just calling a moving company, and have them haul it off to a landfill or something. Then, ...
Me: Well, we know someone in the business...
Tech (clearly enjoying this): Oh, good, that helps. Then, with the money you'd save, you would be able to buy a new piano that will last you the rest of your life. We sell-
Me: Well, the piano actually belongs to my in-laws. Let me talk to them and see what they want to do.
Tech: Ok, so give us a call if you have any other questions. We'll be glad to come out and take a look at it for you.
And now here it is, our 1910 Heller and Company 'Upright Grand'. I understand that we are breaking every rule in the Where Should We Put Our Piano? book. It's on an exterior wall... heck, it's next to the front door, and this is the coldest winter in 30 years. Supposedly, we are putting all kinds of stresses on it in terms of moisture and temperature extremes. Meh. It's survived 98 years... it safely dodged the landfill... it's a survivor.
There is, however, a new issue with the piano that has cropped up the last week or so. I think I am going to have the tech come out after all. More on that next time.