(Page updated November 2020)







The majority of pianos cannot be reliably dated purely on the basis of their serial numbers, and you only have to look at the listings here for Collard or Eavestaff to understand why that is.  Various published versions of Broadwoods’ numbers conflict, and can be confusing.  There is a widespread belief that numbers are the be-all-and-end-all for dating pianos, but the length of this page should indicate to you that it is not that simple, and I do not intend to perpetuate the myth by blindly repeating other people’s lists, although I have included some confirmed dates in the second section, further down this pageDon’t forget that if your computer has a keyboard, you can use the usual CTRL F to find a name on this page.  Even if the name on your piano is a real maker, only a minority of piano makers have ever published dates of their serial numbers, and many of these are incorrect or misleading, so on this page, I have only included dates for which I have some evidence.  Some are approximate years (marked ~) but from reliable sources such as the pianos themselves.

In many of the items in our files, the American use of the hash sign or sharp (#) has been adopted (rather than the Italian "No.") to denote numbers, especially serial numbers:  this is useful to know when a number looks like a year.  Also, in order to make long numbers easier to read, several readers have asked me to insert a comma after the thousands, although these do not appear on the pianos.  A growing number of websites offer apparently simple dating of pianos by their serial numbers.  Dating a piano in this way is notoriously unreliable, partly because so much misleading information has been published.  These websites are often quoting from books which are incorrect, many of the date-ranges they give are very vague anyway, and they may expect you to PAY for this misinformation, so why not make a donation to us instead?  Armed with over fifty thousand images for reference, we can usually make a more objective assessment of the age from photos which show what the WHOLE piano looks like on the outside, unobscured by dogs, stools, vases etc..  These estimates are not distracted or misled by numbers or other information

If you open the top of a piano and look inside, you will often find more than one number in there, so don’t presume that you know which is the serial number, we can't always say what they all mean.  Removable wooden parts of the case are often imprinted with a number, but this may only be the last 3 digits of the serial number, which is usually a long number, 5 or 6 digits.  Remember that any handwritten information is probably not from the factory and could have been added at any time.


Sometimes, they are harder to see, and may be underneath a grand, so be aware of the dangers of crawling under there, and check that there is absolutely no movement in the leg joints before you do.  (This should be checked regularly anyway, to prevent harm to children or pets.)  If you slide out the music desk, you may find a number imprinted in it, or in the woodwork inside the top of the piano, or on any removable wooden parts.  3-digit numbers are usually just the last 3 digits of the main number.  Numbers cast into the iron frame are not specific to the individual piano, the frames are ordered in bulk, but a number painted on the frame may be the one, as shown above.  If you are fit and healthy, you could crawl underneath and unscrew the pedal unit, but the number may be visible without doing that, and it is important to lift each corner and check that there is absolutely no movement in the leg joints before you risk going underneath.

Some more modern serial number dates for British pianos of the 1900s are listed in date order near the bottom of this page, and if you have a rough date, these may numbers give you a clue to the maker of a piano which has no name.

Date-marks inside the piano, if available, are often a much more accurate and reliable guide to the age of an instrument than numbers.  Hallmarks for silver and porcelain, etc. are published widely in many books, but the same kind of information is not normally available for pianos, except on this website, and if there are no date-marks, serial numbers are one option, but there are many examples on the internet of dates of serial numbers blindly stated for pianos, based on incorrect information, with no cross-checking of anything else.  The result is that an exact date will be stated as if it were fact, with no reference to whether the piano is of a type that could possibly have been made then.  You may think of a year starting at January 1st, but this is not always true of serial number dates, for example Bechsteins’ published numbers show the last number in a calendar year, Kemble numbers are from December to December, whereas Bentleys' are October to October.  As explained on our date-marks page, it is pointless to attempt to date an antique piano to a precise day within a year, because the manufacturing process was often so long that we must be grateful just to know the year.

When iron frames are made, in bulk, nobody knows which piano they will end up being used in, so any raised numbers cast into the iron are not specific to one piano, and not serial numbers, which would be painted if they appear on the iron frame.  Numbers on keys or actions are not usually serial numbers, and not usually helpful, because no dates are available.

Dating a piano by its number depends on four things…


Some of the enquiries we receive don't even give the name of the piano, just numbers:  numbers are not usually any use without a name, but many piano names are meaningless.  Sometimes, if you can send photos to show what the whole piano looks like, we can estimate the date, and the numbers may give a clue to the makers’ identity.  If you are lucky, you may just open the top of the piano, and immediately see a number, but sometimes, the number is so well hidden that you may not find it. (If you do find just one, don't assume that it is necessarily the right one.)  Patent numbers and registered design numbers can be researched through official channels, but are often a lot of trouble and expense for very little result.


Many dates of numbers are simply not available, although our files include many dates of individual numbers which are not published anywhere else.  Books which give number dates are known as "Piano Atlases" after the original - Michel's Piano Atlas, which later became the Pierce Piano Atlas.

Others include the Musicians' Piano Atlas, for which I supplied amendments, and an appendix with action and key numbers, although that information has been updated and improved in this page.  Sometimes, in an antique piano, the action makers’ name and number is the only clue to its identity, and the best guide to its date. 

Names listed in the Europe Piano Atlas include Acrosonic, Aeolian, Albert, Allison, Anelli, Angelestein, Angerhofer, Apollo, Arnold, Arirang, Aristocrat, Atlas, Bach, Bachmann, Baldur, Baldwin, Bathur, Barratt & Robinson, Baumbach, Baumgardt, Bechstein, Bentley, Berdux, Berger, Berry, Bieger, Biese, Billberg, Bluthner, Bosendorfer, Bord, Breitkopf & Hartel, Brinkmann & Goebel, Brinsmead, Bristol, Broadwood, Brother, Burgasser, Burger & Jacobi, Fibiger, Cuawberghe, Challen, Chassaigne, Chappell, Choiseul, Christensen, Chu-Seng, Collard, Conover, Cramer, Danemann, Dietmann, Markennamen, Dohnert, Doina, Dorner, Donath, Duck, Duysen, Eavestaff, Ecke, Ehrbar, Eisenberg, Ekstrom, Elcke, Erard, Estey, Euterpe, Fazer, Feurich, Fibich, Finger, Forster, French, Fuchs, Furstein, Gaveau, Gerbstadt, Geyer, Giles, Gillot-Straube, Gors & Kallmann, Goetze, Grand, Grotrian, Guckel, Gulbransen, Gunther, Gustaffson, Haegele, Habn, Hain, Hals, Hamburger, Hamilton, Hanlet, Harwood, Hautrive, Hellas, Heintzmann, Heppel, Herrmann, Herz, Horugel, Hofberg, Hoffmann, Hofmann, Hofmann & Czerny, Hofmann & Kuhne, Hopkinson, Hornung & Muller, Howard, Hupfeld, Ibach, Inbal, etc..

I am grateful to the Castle Museum, York, for lists of piano serial number dates compiled by Mr D.R. Homan, a piano tuner from Scunthorpe.  Names include Bechstein, Biese, Bluthner, Bord, Dogel,  Dorner, Duysen, Feurich, Forster, Grotrian Steinweg, Hofberg, Ibach, Irmler, Kaps, Krauss, Lindholm, Lipp, Mannborg, Quandt, Ritmuller, Schiedmayer, Schimmel, Schwechten, Seiler, Steinway, Thurmer, and Zeitter & WInkelmann.  Most of these lists end around 1935-6, so we imagine that they were collected at that time.  Some agree with other published numbers, some do not, which brings me to...


In 1958, 5 years before I became so heavily involved with pianos, N.E. Michel published the first "Piano Atlas" of serial numbers:  This work was a tremendous achievement, listing thousands of American and other names, but it’s a bit like train-spotting, many entries say no more than can be found written on the piano anyway, and quite apart from the appalling spelling, conflicting entries, duplicated misspelt entries, and the absence of proper cross-reference, an increasing number of the items he published have proved to be wrong or misleading, and this discredits the others.  In the seventies, I wrote to his successor Bob Pierce about this matter, giving specific proof of inaccuracies, but he did not act on the information.  Many numbers do not correspond to the instruments, including some of those for Aeolian, Allison, Aucher, Bauer, Bentley, Bluthner, Bord, Brinsmead, Broadwood, Cadby, Cecilian, Chappell, Clementi, Collard, Eavestaff, Erard, Euterpe, Gors & Kallmann, Hopkinson, Jarrett & Goudge, Karn, Kirkman, Knauss, Koch & Korselt, Kuhse, Monington & Weston, Murdoch, Nelson, Nunns, Perkins, Pleyel, Ritmuller, Rordorf, Spencer, Schiedmayer, Schroder, Spencer, Steck, Stodart, Tolkien, Wieck, Winter and Wornum.

Pierce described his book as “the bible of the piano industry”,

 but “It ain’t necessarily so”!


Michel wrongly attributed Bristol Miniature pianos to Duck, Son & Pinker, but they have no record of them.  I used to tune one of these for an old lady until, unable to sell it, she stored it in the loft, where it probably fell to bits rather quickly!  We are still puzzling over the connections between Bristol, KK, K.Kawai, LHH, Princess Piano and some similar but un-named examples from around the twenties.  KK could mean K.Kawai, but Kabushiki Kaisha is apparently a general term for a company, a bit like a Japanese version of our “Ltd.”, yet it sometimes appears on its own as if it were a brand name.  To add to the numbers mystery, by 1979, the electronics firm Sharp Kabushiki Kaisha’s modern American patent for an electronic device bears the same number 101957 as KK’s old piano patent.


Bentley numbers start from 1919, and the name was mentioned in Booth & Brooks’ archives for 1903, yet the Bentley name was apparently not used by the Stroud Piano Co. until 1930, so we don’t know who made them before.  Several sources have assumed that this was a made-up name, perhaps leaning on the prestige of Bentley cars, but it seems likely that Stroud bought the rights from someone else.  Perkins' numbers seem to be estimated, and are not supported by our information.  These and other mistakes have been perpetuated by other books and websites reprinting them without evidence to support the information, but then it is a difficult trap to avoid, and everyone quotes published information sometimes, taking it on trust.

Julian Dyer says "The numbers generally quoted for Steck pianos are highly misleading, at least for the European production.  They clearly make no sense, and do not allow for the fact that these pianos were made in three different countries using three different sets of numbers".  Some, like a 1906 example we saw recently, do seem about right, but the published numbers might suggest 1930 in what looks more like a 1920 piano, and a Steck dated 1926 has a number suggesting 1930.





Some people solve this problem simply by choosing the number which suits their purpose, or makes the piano oldest.  In discussing the way that numbers are marked in a piano, it is best to avoid the word "stamped", because there are two different kinds of stamp.  Ink marks can be made by a rubber-stamp, and these are sometimes found on the sides of keys.  Metal stamps have traditionally been used to IMPRINT names and especially numbers into woodwork, although they may be coloured as well.

Contrary to popular belief, these are not usually burnt, embossed,

or engraved, but hammered, like some of my friends.

Often, the serial number may be imprinted into the wood of the casework, sometimes conveniently located on the top edge, but this is by no means reliable, and grand case numbers are often harder to find, being hidden on removable parts, or underneath:  Remember, too, the dangers for you, your children and pets, of crawling underneath a grand:  Check that the legs are safe first, with no movement whatsoever in the joints

It's worth mentioning that the capital letter "I" may sometimes be used to double as a number one.  Occasionally, two are superimposed at right-angles, serving as an asterisk, to confirm that this is the serial number.  Metal stamps may also be pre-formed into the name of a senior worker, such as a supervisor who is responsible for quality control in a particular department of a factory.  James Stewart's name, for example, was imprinted in some Clementi or Collard pianos while he worked for the firm, from 1826 to 1852, so such imprints can sometimes be useful guides to date.  Wooden top bridges are sometimes imprinted too. 


Pianos were known in the factories as "cases", and they had CASE NUMBERS.  The piano model might be standard, but being hand-made, the individual case could have minor differences and fittings, so by the late 1800s, removable case parts such as legs, music desks, etc. were often imprinted with the last 3 digits of the case number, so that the parts of the case could be kept together during manufacture, and this helps to confirm which is the case number.  Steinways used very small stamps so that they could mark even the tiniest pieces of moulding in this way.  Having said all that, case numbers are not necessarily the serial numbers, which may be imprinted on the soundboard, or painted onto the iron frame.  One of the problems that occurs with Collard & Collard is that although the case number is sometimes confirmed by being repeated in several places, it is often not the published serial number.  Some makers, such as Bechstein, Broadwood, Collard, Tomkison and Wornum, had separate numbers for different models, as well as a main series, and odd things can happen.



Numbers for most makers will go through a period when they are in four figures, and may resemble a year, for example, in 1791, Broadwood square pianos had serial numbers in the 1700s and 1800s.  In 1789-1790, Erard numbers also resembled years, and around that time, Southwell’s numbers, displayed on the front of the piano, were slightly earlier than their years.  Windus numbers were in the 1880 range during the 1860s.  It is important to realise that pianos made after about 1810 are hardly ever marked with a straightforward year of manufacture, and if a year is written on a piano, it will often represent the date the firm was established, or the date of an exhibition medal.  A notable exception is Erard, who marked the years on the actions of the London pianos, or the soundboards of the Paris pianos.  Pape marked the year under the strings but some, like one of ours, have unfortunately faded.  It probably didn’t occur to the makers that anyone would be looking at them two hundred years later.


1792 John Broadwood square piano in the Mobbs Collection, Bristol, has the number 1931.

Circa 1805 Thomas Tomkison, London, square piano #1965 in the Smithsonian.

1833 John Broadwood & Son upright piano #1778 in the Mobbs Collection, Bristol.

1931? Dagmar piano #85,425, keys marked 1931, James Smith & Son, sole agents, 76/72 Lord Street Liverpool.  Also marked JS&S September 1947, so perhaps 1931 is a just number?

Circa 1931 Two G.Ajello & Sons pianos numbered around #28,500 are dated quite

reliably by Malcolm action numbers, in spite of the mark 2.10.9 on the iron frames.

1931 Monington & Weston Piano #50,347 has 2.12.9 on the frame, a very similar mark to the example above.  It also has a number on a bracing #15,502.


It might seem logical that serial numbers should, by their very definition, run in a single, unbroken series starting from the first piano a company makes, and therefore represent the number of pianos that have been made up to any given point in the list.  Steinweg, for example, made 482 pianos before he emigrated to New York, and these were numbered from 1 to 482, so his New York “Steinway” pianos started at 483.  Jay Mallory’s research in the Erard archives has shown that each new Paris piano had the next number.  However, the same is not always true of their London pianos, or of Pleyel, and although several authors have estimated production figures for various firms on the basis of serial numbers, it is often not that simple:  around 1898 for example, Squires were producing pianos with numbers in the 18,000 and 28,000 ranges. 

Some makers would (like Steinweg) start from a good, honest #1, and number every piano as they went, but some preferred to start at a much more generous figure.  H.P. Nelson's company was established in Chicago, 1908, and started their serial numbers at 6000, but the published lists are confused, and dates are duplicated, some are out of sequence, and some have digits missing.  Around 1910, Murdochs' ad boasted "fifty thousand pianos in use" and perhaps Spencer, whom they took over, had made that many, but it is quite likely that the statement was just based on their serial numbers.  Another point worth remembering is that because some conventions in numbering developed gradually over a period of many years, they are less applicable to early instruments



Certainly, some firms opted for allotting a thousand numbers per year, even if their production figures were nowhere near that many.  Indeed, it may have been based on the assumption that they would never need any more than that.  This convention can be seen in many lists of serial numbers, but in view of the fact that some of these were originally published in Michel's Piano Atlas, I thought for a while that they might be Michel's own estimates, until other examples began to appear in our files from quite independent sources, such as the pianos themselves.  An interesting angle here is to see how few pianos whose numbers go up in thousands have a high number of hundreds on the end.  Strip away the thousands, and you'll find relatively few which have a remainder over five hundred, perhaps a glimpse of the real output.  Ernst Kaps also used a thousand per year.  Collard pianos of the early 1900s did the same.  Pleyel numbers went through a period of being a thousand per year.  Witton, Witton & Co. were said to be producing a thousand pianos per year in 1915, but this may well be based on serial numbers.  LePetit's pianos are numbered at a thousand per year from 1940, but this is unlikely to represent real production. 

Eavestaffs' first back-action minipiano was made by Brasted in 1934.  Their serial numbers, again, may have been based on a thousand per year from 1934, rather than the main sequences of Eavestaff or Brasted numbers.  Strangely, a Piano Times article on Chappells says their piano production had risen to one hundred per week (5,200 per year) by 1922, yet in that period, their serial numbers still only went up by a thousand per year!  Warranty labels show that Chappells' separate "Elysian” numbers also went up a thousand per year, and these used date codes within the serial numbers, by placing the last 2 digits of the year at the beginning of the number, so #23,000 means 1923.  The labels also carry a lower number with the same last 3 digits.  By 1928, Marshall & Rose serial numbers were counted in steps of a thousand per year, with the first 2 digits also representing the year, so #28,000 would be 1928, like the Elysian numbers.  It is possible that Steinberg Berlin numbers also worked like this.  From 1946, Welmar also used numbers in which the first 2 digits represented the year.  Ajello (the Manchester one) on the other hand, placed the two digits of the year at the other end, which has a peculiar effect on the sequence of numbers:  If these were rounded down, they would give no clue to the date.

A number on the soundboard preceded by the letter K, near the left end of the soundboard, is probably a piano made by Kemble, regardless of the name on the front.  Other letters usually indicate retailers’ stock numbers…



Retailers’ stock numbers often add to the general confusion, and unless they are preceded by the dealer's initials, it is difficult to know what they are.  For example “R&D” in the picture means that the piano was sold by Rushworth & Dreaper.  “C&S” means Crane & Sons, they were unable to help us with archive material, and although their premises were said to include “factories”, we have been told by various trades people that they did not make the pianos, and certainly some were made by Kennard, Harold, or Cremona, so serial numbers do not help.  Their stock numbers for new and secondhand pianos that they sold are preceded by “C&S”, and may give us clues to the approximate date of sale:  some are listed further down this page.  These are not to be confused with a C&S mark in a triangle on iron frames.   “W&G” means Waring & Gillow, although if you search for it on the internet, you will get an endless list of items about TV’s “Will & Grace”.  “&S” usually means “and son”, and “&C” is “and Co”.  “L” on the end may mean ”Ltd.”.  Sometimes, numbers are preceded by a letter or letters representing the branch, such as "MP" for Manor Park, or (more commonly) "HO" for Head Office.  The letter P (for piano) may also appear in the case of a firm which sold other goods as well.  We have some individual dates of stock numbers on file, as well as a few lists, and although these are incomplete, they are often useful.  Harrods used metal or plastic plates with stock numbers preceded by the initial H, and they kindly gave us some dates for these.


Model numbers rarely exceed 3 digits, whereas serial numbers are usually much bigger.  Many makers use model numbers, and these may tell us several things about the piano:  German firms like Bechstein and Grotrian used the size of the piano in centimetres - the length of a grand, or the height of an upright.  Bentleys used the number of notes, so a “Concord 88” had 88 notes.  Berrys did a similar thing with the number of octaves, and followed it with two digits of the year it was introduced, so the Berry 758 was a 7-octave model introduced in 1958.  Collard & Collard pianos usually have a smaller number, thought to be the model, as do Spencer and Murdoch.


Keys are almost always numbered left to right, and they also have their own numbers, which would have meant something to someone at the time, although very little of this information survives.  It is not usually possibly to trace the history of an individual piano, but we sometimes have more information than the makers themselves, and we may be able to provide a useful cross-reference by looking up action and key numbers, frame markings, or historical data such as name changes, dates of addresses, etc..  Action makers’ numbers progress much more rapidly than piano numbers, because they sold actions to a number of piano factories.



Without donations, I will be fine, but our collection may not survive for future generations, and it may all end up on a bonfire.  If every visitor to this site made a small donation, we would have better displays for our building, and much-improved facilities for research within our own archives.  Cheques must be made out to Bill Kibby-Johnson.  Foreign cheques are subject to high bank charges, so if you are posting a donation, bills are easier to change without any of your money disappearing on charges.



As well as pianos. the following alphabetical list includes approximate dates for the serial numbers of various action makers, which are often useful when the piano name has disappeared, or especially when no dates are available for the piano’s own number.  However, I only list the small minority of numbers that I have been able to confirm or estimate.  Up to 1914, it was common to import cheap German actions for London pianos, and even if the action makers’ name is not there, the numbers may suggest possible dates.  See also the modern numbers nearer the bottom of the pageNow that so many people are viewing these lists of numbers on iPhones and small tablets, I am experimenting to try to find a layout that is not destroyed when the screen is very small.


The various members of the Allison family worked and advertised quite separately, but sometimes shared premises.  In 1878, George Sherborne was indicted at the Old Bailey for trading in pianos whilst he was bankrupt.  He took pianos on credit from various makers, and sold them at auction, sometimes for less than cost.  This case can be found on the internet, and includes a useful selection of prices and serial numbers for 1878, which have allowed us to reconstruct part of his stock record, such as the Allison numbers, consistently in the 19,000 range, which do not correspond to published information.  Arthur Allison’s pianos are often dated inside…

1878 #19,000 is a confirmed date, but disagrees with the others!

1883~  #18,369

1892  #23,009

1902  #29,659

1903  #30,645

1906?  #34,840

1907  #35,795



Be wary of what you read on the internet about Aucher dates.  I should perhaps mention that “Freres” means brothers, it is not a name.  The following list of Aucher Freres numbers (on your left) was given to me some years ago by the late John Davis.  His occasional snippets of piano history were sometimes questionable, but combining this set with my own estimates of individual Aucher pianos, (on the right) they do line up quite well in most cases, and seem to be a great improvement on the previous published lists, which are nonsense.  Goodness knows where John got these!

1820 - Not making pianos yet, in spite of the published numbers.

1845  # 1?  - the year the firm was established.

1847  # 1,000

1848~  #800

1854  # 2,000

1859  # 4,000

1868~  #6,000

1872  # 8,000

1874~  #8,800

1877  #12,000

1878~  #13,600

1880~  #13,700

1882  #16,000

1883~  #16,200

1885~  #17,100

1888  #20,000

1894~  #17,200

1897  #26,000

1905  #32,000

1912  #40,000

1916  # 4,552 - according to Begg's stock records.  If this really is the main number, it may be that production had been taken over by another factory.  My own estimates seem illogical, bearing in mind that some of the pianos appear to be almost identical, but we have evidence that Bord's pianos were up to 6 years out of sequence leaving the factory, so perhaps Aucher's were too.  Many examples are marked “Modēle No.1” even though they are not the same design.  I would be grateful if anyone out there can provide real, hard evidence about genuine, definite dates of Aucher numbers, such as actual dates inside the pianos, or documents of sale.



The following list shows numbers for dated pianos made by the wholesalers, Bansall.  They supplied pianos for the trade, including Barnes, Binns, Caldecourt, Hopkinson Successors Ltd., Moore & Moore, Russell & Russell Ltd., and possibly Sames and Watson, our 1906 example is fairly unusual in bearing the Bansall name, but they rarely displayed their own name, most were bought in by various retailers, who put fictitious names on them.  The most likely way to identify one is by a label under the keys of the bottom notes, as shown above. The keys were often made by Shenstone, order numbers do not help us, they are not piano numbers.  Some of their actions were made by Langer, and can be dated by the list down the page.

1885  #3,000

1890  #13,000

1895  #22,000

1900  #31,000

1905  #38,000


The Bansall piano #41373 in our time-line is thought to be from 1906.


1910  #44,000

1915  #64,000

1920  #73,000

1925  #94,000

1927  #111,000

1930  #113,000

1935  #119,000

1938  #125,000?

1940 #121,212 in our timeline


Beware of the Bechsteins of the 1890s, with extra numbers that seem to imply a date in the 1850s.  Bechsteins' belly numbers run in separate sequences for uprights and grands, and exist in addition to the main series.  They can be found on the edge of the soundboard (as shown) and underneath.  Here are a few examples, very useful if the main number is faded, or painted over.  Can anyone help us with more of these?

Uprights:    1899 #22,000

1911 #47,000

Grands:      1899 #15,761

1901 #20,000

1910 #35,700


Blankenstein Rough Dates

1880 Not listed in London directory.


1884 L.Blankenstein & Co., 25 Red Cross street, Barbican EC.

1886 L.Blankenstein, 62, Finsbury Pavement EC.



1899 L. Blankenstein & Co. had a branch at 44 Windsor Road, Penarth.

1901 #12,000



1906 #16,000

1908 #18,000

1913 - "Over 30,000 sold" - The Cabinet Maker magazine.

1920 #23,000

1930 #29,000


Because there are three sets, these later numbers can easily be confused with earlier ones, but the middle column seems to be the makers’ own idea of the proper serial number.



If you see what looks like a number LE1P216, it is probably a word - LEIPZIG!

Bluthners, of Leipzig said "Our records were destroyed during the last war".  James Reeder confirmed this in 2004:  "Dear Bill, All records were destroyed during World War II, as well as the factory and offices, so there are no production records available."  The following estimates are my own, worked out by me on the basis of pianos I know of, so if you find these same numbers on the internet, accredited to someone else, they got them from me.  My estimates of individual pianos turned out to be so close to a thousand per year, I rounded them up.

1856 Patent for an action (mechanik) is mentioned on some pianos, which must therefore have been made after 1855.

1860~         #678 owned by Chester Stegman mentions the 1856 patent, but does not mention the 1865 medal, so the mean date for this piano is “circa 1860”.

1867  #  2,000

1868  #  3,000

1869  #  4,000

1870  #  5,000

1871  #  6,000

1872  #  7,000

1873  #  8,000

1874  #  9,000

1875  #10,000

1876  #11,000

1877  #12,000

1878  #13,000

1879 Welmars began importing Bluthners, and kindly gave me the following entries,

which continue for a while at 1000 per year.

1879  #14,000

1880  #15,000

1881  #16,000

1882  #17,000

Then, production appears to have increased to a point where a thousand numbers per year was not sufficient, so the makers allowed 1,500.  Some pianos have two numbers, for example #18,187 also has #20,939.

1883  #19,500

1884  #22,000

1885  #23,500

1886  #25,000

1887  #26,500

1888  #28,000

1889  #29,500

1890  #31,000

Then as published previously.



A maker for whom we have a long list of surviving instruments is Anton Bord, of Paris, established in 1840:  because of fancy script, his name is often misread as K.Bord, but the stencilled signature inside is clearer… 

Bord’s pianos were cheap and mass-produced, in fact he laid down many of the principles that came to be used in other trades for production lines.  However, these are surprisingly good, durable pianos, with Schwander actions, and reasonable wrestplanks.  Published dates of their numbers are not always reliable, especially pre-1870, but the original stock records of Rudall, Carte & Co. are a useful source of serial number dates:  Robert Bigio very kindly supplied this information for the period from about 1870 to 1876, and I have ploughed through it in search of Bord's numbers.  The following pianos are listed here in number order, with dates of sale, not manufacture, and they don't run in order:  it is evident that pianos didn't come out of the factory in order, and may also have been in stock at the shops for up to four years.  In most instances, the purchase price is also given.  The numbers range from to 18723 to 27414, and were sold between 1871 and 1875.  This information shows that numbers in the 18,000 range were still being sent out to shops in 1871, and some were sold as late as 1875.

          1871 #18,788                £40              Sep   14      1871

          1875 #18,901                £17.10s      Jan    19      1875

          1872 #18,911                £27              May   15      1872

          1871 #18,950                £                  Oct    4        1871

          1872 #18,950                £60              May   6        1872

          1870 #19,193                £27              Dec   29      1871

                    #19,213                £33              Mar   21      1873

                    #19,617                £25              Jan    4        1872

                    #19,682                £35              Dec   29      1871

                    #19,686                £35              Mar   8        1872

                    #19,882                £29              Dec   29      1871

                    #20,241                £39              Feb   17      1872

                    #20,591                £63              July   10      1872

                    #20,620                £47.5s        Oct    6        1874

                    #20,929                £32              Sep   12      1872

                    #21,103                £25              July             1872?

                    #21,195                £32              Mar   3        1874

                    #21,521                £21.19s      Jan    15      1873

                    #21,584                £                  May   11      1873

                    #21,613                £21.10s      Dec   12      1873

                    #21,660                £50.15s      Feb   12      1873

                    #21,664                £18.10s      Dec   11      1872

                    #21,696                £22.8s        Jan    6        1873

                    #21,734                £22.16s      Jan    6        1873

                    #21,824                £21.10s      Dec   12      1873

                    #21,825                £26              Oct    10      1873

                    #22,357                £                  Apr    21      1873

                    #24,433                £42              Apr    12      1874

                    #24,719                £31              Apr    4        1874

There are many questions about the accuracy of the published dates…

1880 #45,000                1890 #74,000

That represents about 3,000 per year, which lines up roughly with their ads stating that they were making 12 pianos a day.  In 1900, they announced their hundred-thousandth piano. 

1900 #100,000

1909?  #120,300

1926 #132,000

By 1926, they were saying they had made 132,000 pianos, yet their published serial numbers were only increasing by 500 per year at the time.  Some can also be dated by their Schwander action numbers, but those numbers are not so easy to find, being on the back of the action, so it is safer to ask your tuner to look.

See Stiles.



In music, the "Three Bs" are Bach, Beethoven & Brahms. In the piano trade generally, the "Three Bs" are Bechstein, Blüthner & Bosendorfer, except in London, where they are Barnes, Berry & Boyd, three large firms who had many shops around London in the 1900s.  Surprisingly, Bansall, Brasted, Barratt & Robinson and even Broadwood and Brinsmead didn't get a look in, although Bechstein, Broadwood & Blüthner were a popular trio of names in some old dealers' ads.  I used to work for Berrys, and have tuned so many Barnes, Berry and Boyd pianos over the years that it would seem pointless to put all the details on this page, but specific enquiries are welcomed.  Boyd pianos were not all made by Boyd, and dating them purely by serial numbers is not reliable, no complete lists are published.

1907 #23,886

1911?         #27,100

1916 #31,233 Boyd, 23.5.16 on frame

1921 #50,262 Boyd Coronet grand, different sequence – different factory?

1923 #37,528

1924 #38,200

1927 #44,100 Boyd piano, frame date 20.1.27

1927 #45,300, Boyd piano frame date 8-7-27

1928 #46,900 Boyd, frame date 12-6-28L

1934 #3,200 Boyd piano different sequence

See also the modern numbers near the bottom of this page, and…



Harry Brasted established his factory in 1873, and by the early 1900s, Brasted Brothers were making pianos for the trade, rarely displaying their own name.  I have tuned many Brasted pianos, but only a handful had the name Brasted on the front.  Their iron frames are sometimes marked BB.  The following list is partly estimated, and can be very useful if you find the Brasted name inside a piano.  As with Bansall, the most likely place is a label under the keys.  Some “Boyd” pianos were made by Brasted, and Harrods sold them as “Reger”.  Other names include “Challen”, “Paul Gerard”, “Ehrmann”, “Emile Auberon”, and “Reun”.  This list may also help with some Eavestaff models.  See also the modern numbers near the bottom of this page, as well as notes on Brasteds near the bottom of our Archives page.

1915 #23,540

1921 #30,630

1922 #32,930

1924 #37,780

1927 #44,100

1927 #45,300

1928 #46,900

1934 #74,970

1936 #82,040

1941 #116,000

1946 #150,540


BROOKS, London, Action & Key Makers

No useful number sequences have been found in Brooks actions or keys, but there are some clues in the changes of name and address of the firm.  The principal London action maker of the 1800s, they are said to have been established in 1810 by Henry Brooks, but this is incorrect, it was originally Cox Brooks, and we have no precise date for their start, perhaps around 1822.  Cox Brooks & Sons were certainly in business between 1842 and 1845, but by 1841, they were also being listed as Thomas & Henry Brooks, described as “Pianoforte Hammer Rail Makers” at the same address, Little Albany street north.  They didn’t just make hammer rails, they made the whole action.  The name T. & H. Brooks on an action suggests a date close to 1850.

By 1850 they were at Cumberland market, and around 1858, Thomas ceased his involvement in the firm, which then became Henry Brooks & Co..  They became a limited company around 1889.  This nameplate is from 1907…

1889~ #2359    1892 C13659    1895~ #7711    1904~ #7033a    1906~ C11920

These Brooks Ltd. numbers are stamped into the damper rail, they do not run in sequence, they may be models or types.  After 1919, see Herrburger Brooks.



Looking inside the top of a Cadby piano, you might think you can just write down the number and look up the date.  You have two main options here, either trusting the published dates of their numbers on the left, or trusting my estimates on the right, which sometimes do not agree.  There may be more than one number, but the main one usually appears below the imprinted name C.CADBY, as shown above.

1838    # 1       ?

1850    # 5,500?

1855    # 8,000?

Circa    1857    #9,000

Circa   1870    #8,000

1860    #10,500

1862 onwards, pianos should mention a medal from the 1862 London Exhibition.

After    1862    #9,500

1865    #13,000

Circa    1867    #14,900

1870    #15,500

1875    #18,000

1874-1877 The firm was known as Cadby & Sons and this name should appear on a piano of that period.

Circa    1877    #18,800

Circa    1877    #19,200

1878    #19,300

1878    #19,600

George Sherborne was indicted at the Old Bailey for trading in pianos whilst he was bankrupt.  His Cadby Rosewood Cottage pianos had numbers from 19,300 to 19,661 in 1878.

1879? #19,800

1880    #20,500

1874~ #20,700

1885    The company closed down after the death of Charles Cadby, but the name was used later by another factory, although the new serial numbers were confusingly like some of the earlier ones…

1915    #18,700

1915    #19,900

according to Chas. Begg’s stock records.



The Challen firm was famous in modern times as the “Piano of the BBC”, but it is not widely known that it all began with Alexander Watlen, before Challen joined the firm.  He was the piano maker, and took over from the partnership in 1837.  He was certainly not established in 1804, although their modern literature included a sketch of an alleged 1804 upright.  Serial number dates are published in various "Piano Atlases" for Challen pianos from 1850 onwards, but the earliest of these dates can be misleading, and the earliest confirmation of these I have found so far is 1872.  The Challen firm was unusual in providing a date on a vertical wooden post inside the bottom of upright pianos, in a position where it could only have been done before the piano was completed.  There were various changes of name in the 1800s, which provide clues to the age…

1834-1837   Watlen & Challen

1830-1838   William Challen

1840-1850   Challen & Hollis

1853-1862   Challen & Son

1863-1866   Challen Duff & Hodgson

1867-1877   Challen & Hodgson

1878 onwards   Challen & Son again.

1850    #3,200?

1855    #4,900?

1860    #6,100?

1864    #6,820?

1865    #7,200?

1872    # 9,100

1872    # 9,400

1875    #11,400

1877    #12,700

1878    #13,500

1892    #21,300

1896    #23,700

1903    #28,100

1911    #32,100

1912    #32,300

1935    #56,500

In the 1960s, the manufacture of Challen pianos was taken over by Brasted Brothers, of London, when they mainly made the Challen 988 model.  Published dates of these modern serial numbers vary, and are not reliable, but we have some dates found in the pianos, usually on the keys.  Modern “Challen 1804” pianos are Chinese.  See the modern numbers near the bottom of this page



Samuel Chappell was involved in the music business by 1810, including selling other people’s pianos, but although they quote serial number dates from 1840, it seems that the company didn’t start making their own pianos until 1861.  Sadly, they lost their archives in a fire in the sixties.

I have seen an item online about the conversion of Chappells' Camden factory into luxury apartments, but I struggled to find an address on it, presumably Belmont Street.  Their suggestion that Beethoven was a customer of the Chappell piano factory is complete nonsense.  They were not making pianos anything like as early as that, although they did publish Beethoven's music.  Later, they were very coy about saying who made the pianos, or where, and although serial numbers are available from 1840 onwards, they were not listed as piano makers in the 1850s, and it seems that they were not producing their own pianos until 1861.  Even then, I can find no reference anywhere to their Belmont Street factory until 1869, and it seems likely that that other firms made some of the earlier pianos, perhaps in France, resulting in puzzling anomalies in the numbers.

The main numbers for Chappell pianos are hard to find in some of their Victorian pianos, and their other numbers are often misleading, quite apart from the Chappell Elysian numbers mentioned below.  By 1870 the numbers are already said to be as high as 10,000, but the stock records of Rudall & Co. show that in 1870, Chappell serial numbers were much higher, around 71,730, apart from one with the quite different number 6,007, which should be 1860, according to the published numbers!  Strangely, a Piano Times article on Chappells says their piano production had risen to one hundred per week (5,200 per year) by 1922, yet in that period, the serial numbers still only went up by a thousand per year!  Some modern serial number dates for Chappell pianos are listed near the bottom of this page.

Warranty labels show that Chappells' separate "Elysian” numbers also went up a thousand per year, and these used date codes within the serial numbers, by placing the last 2 digits of the year at the beginning of the number, so #23,000 means 1923.  The labels also carry a lower number with the same last 3 digits


The serial numbers for Collard & Collard are without doubt the most confusing, but it seems that there is often a 3-digit number for the model, a 4-digiti number indicating the number of that type made so far, (dating all the way back to Longman & Broderip) and a 5-digit number which is the actual serial number.  In the course of time, the 4-digit numbers became 5-digit, and the 5-digit numbers became 6-digit, so it can be very confusing if you only look at the numbers.  The best approach is to estimate the age by its appearance before looking at the numbers, and I have the facilities to do this more accurately than most people, if you send photos which show the WHOLE piano, unobscured by dogs, stools, vases etc..

In 1972, I wrote to Collard & Collard Ltd. at an address which I knew to be that of Chappell & Co..  They were unable to help me with any information, having lost their archives in the 1964 fire, so they passed on my enquiry to the late Frank Holland at the Musical Museum.  He followed his normal procedure, and PASSED IT ON TO ME to answer!  (Good ol' Frank, bless 'im!)  Many of the Clementi and Collard dates quoted by Michel are complete nonsense, and the 1832 paperwork shown below proves beyond doubt that the firm became known as Collard & Collard (late Clementi Collard & Collard) immediately after Clementi’s death in 1832. 

This proves that the dates given for later Clementi numbers are too late, and the early Collard numbers are too early.  Michael O'Hara wrote from Arizona about an Edwardian upright with an elliptical name transfer “Clementi & Co.” but this is obviously not the original firm.  After Clementi's factory fire in 1807, some of their various numbers seem to work out close to a thousand per year, a sequence which was continued for some years by Collard & Collard when they took over the firm. 

1808 #1,000

1810 #3,000

1815 #8,000

1820 #13,000

1825 #18,000

1830 #23,000

1833 #27,900

1835 #28,000

1840 #33,000

With Clementi and Collard, the problem is often in deciding which of several numbers to look at.  Years ago, the website

said that there was a sequence specifically for all square pianos made since 1796 by Longman & Broderip and successive names, and also a number for ALL pianos ever made by them.  They place the numbers 2554 and 27943 at 1833.  David Hackett says “There is a strong thread of continuity running through the pianos of Longman & Broderip, Clementi & Co., and Collard & Collard. This extends to the serial numbers, which can be found on most of the instruments. There are often two numbers. One is usually written in ink, and is part of the series covering the grand total of all the pianos made by the firms. The other is stamped, and is the number in the series of a particular type”.

Back in the seventies, I came across this Collard square piano, which the owner bought with great intentions of restoring, but didn’t get around to.  Being only the second square piano I had worked on, I bought it, and planned the same, but found it difficult to resolve problems with poor dampers that didn’t stop the strings sounding.  My cousin, having done the wood finishing on it, became equally hooked, and he took it on with great plans, but eventually sold the job to someone else.  It might seem that with a number 36196, it was made 36 years after the 1807 fire, so 1843.  However, the initials suggest that it was still in the stock of Cramer Addison & Beale when they became Cramer, Beale & Chappell in 1845.  It appears that they may have shortened their stock number from 36196 to 196, so although it could easily be an 1843 piano, the real serial number is probably 3241, which we can reasonably date to 1845.  Incredibly, this one of the very few firm dates that are available worldwide for Collards’ early 4-digit numbers, but Alan Jones’ grand has a hand-written number 37414 which suggests 1844, a reasonable date for the piano, and the 4-digit number imprinted in the wood is 2675.

1833 #2,500

1844  #2,600

1845  #3,200

Around 1846, a square piano #3217, very similar to a Collard, was made, and bears the name of Burling & Co.

1860~  #5,000

1875~  #6,800

1891  #8,900

These estimates are based on the fact that #8945 is dated 1891, suggesting that they only used about 120 numbers per year.  I am grateful to Damien Lightfoot, who sent details of his Collard & Collard Yacht piano, with the main number #8945 imprinted on the top edge of the case, along with smaller numbers elsewhere, 4435 and 675.  I estimated that the piano was from around 1890, and he found the actual date 11/5/91 written on the side of the bottom key. 


Genuine Clementi pianos are before 1833, Collard & Collard pianos are after 1831.

Circa 1828 is the mean date for a piano bearing the name “Clementi, Collard & Collard”, provided it is not “LATE Clementi”.

Circa 1829 is the mean date for a Clementi which has James Stewart’s name inside. He joined the firm in 1826.

Circa 1842 is the mean date for a Collard piano with Stewart’s name inside. He left in 1852 to work for Henry Ivory…

As explained on our Keys page, if a Collard piano of the mid-1800s does not have rounded sharps, it was probably made before 1856, so a rough estimate would be circa 1844.  Rounded sharps were used by them from about 1856, but were phased out by about 1893. 


It becomes clear that by the 1870s, one set of Collard numbers have 6 digits instead of 5, and written in ink.  The smaller numbers go up more slowly than the bigger numbers.  There is also confusion between the 5-digit numbers of this period and the earlier numbers, so 11,000 could seem to be 1840s.  Definite, confirmed dates from dated upright pianos only increase by 200 numbers in 11 years, so they cannot represent production.  Around 1872, there were 5-digit numbers in the 10,000 range, and others which were almost reaching the point of becoming 6 digits.

1872 #10,000

1878  #13,100

1889  #13,300


6-digit numbers correspond to the published lists, and are clearly but untidily handwritten in a sloping manner, below what we believe to be a 3-digit model number imprinted in large, clear figures.  Here is another set of numbers, hand-written ones.  You will see that, although very useful, the sequence is not entirely faultless, it includes some estimated dates of pianos, and some question marks.  Oddly, #64434 appears on a grand and an upright.  These 6-digit serial numbers are sometimes more difficult to find, whereas the 5-digit case number may be repeated in several places on removable parts.  Some modern serial number dates for Collard pianos are listed near the bottom of the page.

1844   #37,000

1845   #36,100

1845?   #38,900

1846~   #39,000

1849~   #42,000

1849   #49,600

1850   #51,000

1851 Another factory fire

1853~   #54,000

1857~   #64,400

1860   #67,000

1862~   #70,200

1866~   #71,700

1866?   #80,000

1869?   #83,600

The stock records of Rudall & Co. show that Collard pianos in the range 90,259 to 111,167 were sold in random order between 1871 and 1878.  In addition, one was numbered 10487!

1870   #90,000

1870?   #91,500

1872?   #96,800

1873?   #98,100

Around 1874, these passed through the 100,000 mark.


The ~ symbol after a year indicates that it is estimated.  A question mark indicates a stated date that has not been confirmed.  Most pianos have more than one number inside, and Collards are sometimes the extreme example of this, often with 3 numbers in quite different ranges.  Usually, it is the longest number that is most useful.

1874~         #100,000

1875 #102,900 is dated

1877?         #105,900

1878 #111,793

1880 #115,400 - dated

1880 #115,800

1883 #121,400

1887~         #163,900

1885~         #125,000

1886?         #130,100

1890~         #130,100

1891 #140,900 dated

1895?         #151,600

1896 #152,100    dated

1896?         #152,600

1898~         #156,200

1898~         #157,200

1899~         #159,200

1899~         #159,800

1900 #160,800

1904~         #163,900

1907           #171,100 dated

1907~         #169,000

1908~         #172,700

1910?         #175,000

1913?         #169,000

1914 - #13,144 and #137,537         - Charles Begg's stockbook doesn't seem to line up with the available information, these 2 should be from around 1890, so perhaps they were secondhand, or very old stock.  Pre-printed stock books don't always have the ideal headings, and under "Style" these Collards are all marked "S.H." which may confirm that they were secondhand.  Strangely, Beggs would have just one Collard in stock at a time, and it was always given the same stock number 187.  1915 stock includes #86,594 which is not even enough digits.

1914?         #175,800

1914 #180,500

1914 #181,300 dated

1915 #182,600 dated 1915 and also 1920.  Anyone can write a date in a piano, and even if we could be sure that they genuinely wrote it on that same date, it wouldn't prove that the piano did not exist before that date.  It seems most likely this is a 1915 piano.

1917 #186,600 dated on the iron frame.

1920 #187,500

1925?         #191,000 in our time-line is dated 1925.

1930 #193,300



The Cramer firm changed its name several times, and this sometimes helps us to estimate the date of some examples, as well as other makes sold by them.  However, there is a lot of wrong information published, partly because Cramers’ own ads often had conflicting or overlapping names.

Pianos include a Collard mentioned above, still in the stock of Cramer Addison & Beale when they became Cramer, Beale & Chappell in 1845.  It appears that they may have shortened their stock number from 36196 to 196. 

1825-1844 Cramer Addison & Beale

1845    #196

1845-56 Cramer, Beale Chappell & Beale

1858-9 1858        Cramer, Beale & Co.

1859-61 Cramer, Beale & Chappell.

1860    #5,800

George Wood is said to have initiated their piano-making in the early 1860s, so it seems that earlier “Cramer” pianos were not made by them.

1861    #6,200

1861-3 Cramer, Beale & Wood – the London firm, dates differ from the Dublin shop.

1865 Cramer & Co.

1880 #15,000 first published number.

1885 Received a medal at the Inventions Exhibition.

1964 Kembles took over the manufacture of Cramer pianos.

See also the modern numbers near the bottom of this page.



If your piano is imprinted with a number preceded by the letters C&S, this indicates a stock number for the retailers Crane & Sons, and although they were unable to help us with archive information, the following list gives approximate dates of sale for some of these.  Bear in mind that it may have been an earlier piano, sold secondhand.  A marking C&S on the iron frame is not Crane & Sons.  Cranes received a medal at the 1885 International Inventions Exhibition, which was mentioned on pianos for many years after.

1887  C&S 6,800

1891  C&S 13,600

1902  C&S 28,000

1905  C&S 44,500

1908  C&S 85,400

1910  C&S 103,500

1927  C&S 137,300

1930  C&S 143,000

1933  C&S 161,100



Dale Forty pianos cannot be reliably dated by numbers, because they were made at several different factories, and on some pictures from their own catalogues, the name Cramer is faintly visible.  I suspect that (like many small firms) they only made uprights, and Cramer made their grands.  Someone identified only as "PianoGuy" says that pianos sold at the Cheltenham shop have a paper label inside the top, with a number which is a code for the year, and the number of pianos sold up to that point.  Pianos of the 1800s have the last two digits of the year, followed by 3 digits for the number sold that year so far.  Some twentieth-century pianos have the last 3 digits of the year, followed by 3 digits for the number of pianos.  These are more complex forms of thousand-per-year numbering.  In the twenties, some of the Dale Forty numbers were in the 44,000 range.

Debain was based at the Place Lafayette, which is now known as the Place de Franz Liszt, shown above.  No serial number dates seem to be published for Debain pianos in standard textbooks, but the original stock records of Rudall, Carte & Co. provide a useful source for a few:  Robert Bigio very kindly supplied this information, for the period from about 1870 to 1876, and Debain's serial numbers seem to be in the same sequence for organs and pianos, so we can project estimated dates from the 1855 instrument up to 1872:

1834 #1 ?

1845 #2,700 ?


At some point, Rudd & Co. (London) became involved with Debain’s more famous firm, sharing their Paris address when they moved to Buttes Saint Chaumont, that strange area of Paris with the man-made mountains and caves.  It seems possible that Rudd initiated piano making for Debain, or French Pianinos and Harmoniums produced with Rudd & Cie’s name on them may have been made by Debain.  On this basis, we could estimate that our Rudd Pianino #5049 (kindly donated by Mr & Mrs Black) may have been made around 1854, and although I thought it would be later, it does not bear any reference to the medal they received at the Paris Exposition in 1855, so it was probably made before that event.

1854~         #5,000

1855 #5,330 Debain's Harmonicorde, a combined upright piano and harmonium in The Bowes Museum.

1860 #8,800

1865 #12,300

1870 #15,500

The stock records of Rudall & Co. show dates of sale, not manufacture, so they don't run in number order, and it appears that some Debain instruments were in stock at the factory for 2 or 3 years, then in stock with Rudall & Co. for up to five years.  Some dates of sale start with the name of the month:  others start with the number of the day.  In most instances, the retail price is also given.  These are very similar to Bord’s numbers.

1872           Debain                  #17,246                £44.2s                  10          10

1872           Debain                  #17,346                £44.2s                  19          3

1871           Debain                  #23,202                £17              May   26

1872           Debain                  #23,279                £37                        23          3

       ?          Debain                  #23,341                £

1871           Debain                  #23,372                £44.2s                  31          10

1873           Debain                  #24,509                £42              Aug   23

1871           Debain                  #24,719                £31              Apr    4

1871           Debain                  #25,198                £20.10s      July   15

1874           Debain                  #27,418                £28              Jan    1

1874           Debain                  #27,754                £46.6s                  31          7

To summarise…

1871     #23,341 to 28,262

1872     #17,346 to 24,509

1874     #27,418 to 27,754

Piano #22,817 has been estimated at 1880, but the information above puts it nearer to 1872. It also has a number 15,619, suggesting a date around 1970!  Later Debain pianos may be dated on the keys.



Eavestaff serial numbers can be very confusing, almost as challenging as the Collard ones, but in a different way.  The early ones for the original firm are not published, but here are some estimates before 1909.  Established in 1823, W.Eavestaff was originally a music publisher, at Great Russell Street by 1826.  The firm soon began to sell pianos, and by the 1840s he was listed as a “pianoforte maker”, but doesn't seem to have been described as W.G. (William Glen) until the 1860s, so we don’t know if this is a son of the original.  More historical notes on the Eavestaff firm may be found near the bottom of the page at

1865~         #4,600

1878           #6,000

Eavestaff moved from Great Russell Street to Berners Street in the late 1870s. 

Our first listing for that address is 1880.

1885~         #7,000

1885~         #14,700 (different sequence)



1889~         The firm became "And Sons" before 1892.

1890?   #9,100

1892~   #11,400

1893~   #12,000

1894~   #10,000

1895~   #15,000

1895~   #15,600

1897~   #14,500 & #12,500

1899~   #16,500

1906~   #17,500

1909 #20,100 dated by its Schwander action number 604,622

1912~   #23,400

1920 #24,500 & #67,600 - casting date on iron frame

1920~   #31,000



     1925      Brasteds are said to have taken over

 the manufacture of Eavestaff pianos, but a

1924 Eavestaff piano is signed Brasted.  Some

Eavestaff numbers follow Brasteds’ sequence…

     1927      #44,100 & #45,300

     1928      #46,900

     1930?    #90,000

1934 #74,970 & #116,000

     1934      #60,700 date label 16/7/34 under keys.



     1934      The model was introduced, based on a design by

Lundholm, Sweden, 1931, and it is said that numbers located

inside the left of the tuning flap under the keyboard started

running at about a thousand per year, but this is only a

rough guide, and there are other numbers inside as well.

1935 #1,000

1936 #2,000        First known reference to Princess Ingrid.

1936                               #6,300 February 1936

1936 #2,495

1937 #3,000                                                      

1937                               #8,500 December 1937

1937                               #11,900

1938 #4,000        References to Princess Ingrid & Princess Elizabeth.

1938                               #10,300 June 1938

1938 #4,100

1938+                             #50,000 & #56,100 large jump in sequence

1939 #5,000

1940 Eavestaff brought out a more conventional model

which they called "Miniroyal"

1940 #5,400

1940 #6,000

1941 #7,000

1941 #7,300

1942 #8,000


1943 #9,100

1944 #10,000      References to Princess Ingrid,

Princess Margaret & Princess Elizabeth.

1944 #10,900      Miniroyal Model with drop action

1945 #11,000

1946 #12,000

1946 #12,700      Eavestaff Pianette Minipiano

1946 #12,800

1947 #13,000

1948 #14,000

1949 #15,000

1950 #16,000

1956 #16,800

1956 #22,600


The previously published numbers from 1950 are

misleading for many Eavestaff pianos,

and do not follow on from the others, but

a lot of the dates shown below are confirmed

by datemarks inside the pianos, see


1950 #135,000

1952 #142,700

1953 #163,200 is a definite, confirmed date

1955 #164,900

1956 #166,200 & #167,800

1957 #169,500

1958 #172,700

1959 #174,500

1960 #176,100 & #180,300

1961 #180,000 & #180,500

1962 #180,600 & #181,700

1963 #181,400 & #182,900

1964   #183,600

1965   #183,800

1966 #184,400 & #185,300

1967   #185,700

1968   #186,600

The Eavestaff Minroyal Model 90 was introduced.

1969   #188,000

1970   #187,900


1971      #147,900

          1972      #148,200

     1973      #152,800

     1974      #160,000

     1974      #188,000

     1975      #166,800

     1975      #169,900

     1977      #176,700


     1978      #40,000

     1979      #40,500

     1980      #50,000


1983 #181,500



Without donations, I will be fine, but our collection may not survive for future generations, and it may all end up on a bonfire.  If every visitor to this site made a small donation, we would have better displays for our building, and much-improved facilities for research within our own archives.  Cheques must be made out to Bill Kibby-Johnson.  Foreign cheques are subject to high bank charges, so if you are posting a donation, bills are easier to change without any of your money disappearing on charges.



Information from the original archives of Erard and Pleyel shows that the published numbers are wrong in some periods.  The Erard entries also make no allowance for the fact that instruments from their London factory bear a completely different sequence of numbers, and using the wrong set can cause you to be half a century out!  These numbers are imprinted inside the London Erards.  Back in the eighties, I was the first person in the world to publish these, although the list has been greatly improved since then.  It has been suggested that these dates refer to the manufacture of the actions, and the piano might not have been completed for a further year or so.  Nevertheless, these are definite, confirmed, accurate dates, completely different to the Paris lists.

1832  #  170

1836  #  480

1839  #  600

1843  #  700

1850  #1,100

1847  #1,400

1853  #3,200 & #3,400

1856  #3,900

1857  #5,800

1860  #6,500 & #7,000

1862 # 7,200

1865  # 8,700

1866  # 9,700

1868  #10,000

It is not clear why so many of their surviving London Cottage Pianos seem to be in the 1868 range.

1870  #12,200

1872  #13,100

1873  #14,200

1874  #14,500

1875  #14,900

1880  #16,300

1885  #17,600

1890  #18,200

1890  #19,500

1891~ #20,100

Numbers over twenty thousand may suggest a Paris piano. 

See also the bottom of our Archives Page.



1874    Established.    1907~  #68,443           1910    #153,032


FRITZ & MAYER, Stuttgart, Action Makers

1886~  # 2,380 C.Fritz action pre-dates the partnership with Mayer.

1900~  #35,560

1907~  #85,180

1921~  #132,260


GEHRLING, Paris, Action Makers

Here, we can only use any references to exhibition medals to get an idea when the action was made, which will be after the last medal mentioned on the label.

1878    Gehrling received a Silver Medal at the Paris Exposition.

1880    Gehrling received a Gold Medal at the Melbourne Exhibition.

1885    Gehrling received a Grand Diplome D'Honneur

at the Antwerp (Anvers) Exhibition.

1889    Gehrling received a Gold Medal at the Paris Exposition.

Round about 1920, they became known as Gehrling & Douillet.



This list includes my estimates of some numbers.  I am grateful for information kindly supplied by Mark Wakeford.  Some of these numbers are also available from Vifamusik

1877    Established?

1881    #1,000

1884~  #1,300

1891    #11,800

1898~  #22,000

1901    #25,000

1904    #31,710 is dated on the keys. 

1906~  #36,000

1908    #40,000

1912    #50,000

1914    #55,600 - #57,000

1915    #57,300 but

#24,306 is also said to be 1915!

1917    #58,200

1918    #58,500

1919    #58,700

1920    #59,000

1925    #62,620

1930    #66,450


1934    #68,750.  Challen pianos were being made in London at the Brasted factory, with the “Gors & Kallmann” name on them, and numbers in the 120,000 range, which do not correspond to serial numbers for Gors & Kallmann, or Challen, or Brasted!  I’m grateful to Rob Chapman for telling me about a 1936 key-frame label on “Gors & Kallmann” #120,593.

1935    #69,000

1940    #74,000

1945    #77,000

1950    #79,800

1960    #82,000


Orginally Schwander’s firm, Herrburger was his son-in-law, and when he became a partner, his name was placed second – Schwander Herrburger.  Later, he took over the firm, and it became Herrburger-Schwander.  See also the Schwander numbers.


HERRBURGER BROOKS Ltd., London Action & Key Makers

No useful numbers have been found on Herrburger Brooks actions or keys, but if you email the key numbers, there is always the possibility that we may know the date.  Herrburger-Schwander (Paris) merged with Brooks (London) in 1920, so the name suggests a date after 1919.  Initially, the name  “Herrburger Brooks” was imprinted in the wood.  By 1922, a black label was sometimes used on the back of the hammer rail in uprights.


By 1926, a gold label was sometimes used on the front of the hammer rest rail.  Some still just had the imprint.  Sometimes, Herrburger Brooks used a material called IVOETTE to cover the white keys, and this would usually be mentioned on a label under the keys.


Otto HIGEL, London, Toronto & New York

1920    V442720L (Chappell piano)

The action on a 1922 Chappell upright piano is clearly marked “Otto Ingel”, but the system of numbering is very similar - S35522L.  Later, the Higel name was used by Gamble Piano Actions Ltd., also known as Gamble Player Actions Ltd., or simply GPA.



William Howlett was one of the best-known piano names in East Anglia, where he claimed to be the only pianoforte maker, and also claimed to have been established at Norwich in 1820.  By 1872, the company was known as Howlett & Sons, and later Howlett & Son.  The serial numbers of Howlett pianos are not all in the same sequence, and this suggests that they were made by more than one factory, rather than all being made by Howlett.  The following stock numbers imprinted next to the name are a better guide to date, but the dates are only estimated, and a piano sold secondhand would be older.

1905~  # 4,000

1910~  # 6,000

1915~  # 7,000

1920~  # 8,000

Our Howlett 8,453 is probably 1908!

1925~  #10,000


Ernst JACOB, Berlin S.O., Action Makers

1895    #85,000

1900    #95,000

1903    #147,000

1908    #282,000

1910    #309,000

1912~  #357,000

1913    #378,000

1914    #580,900 dated just under the number

1920?  #617,380

1923?  #645,600

1928    #666,400



When I used to commute across London in the sixties, I would pass the Triangle Works on Hackney Road, near the junction with Cambridge Heath Road.  According to their pianos, Jarrett & Goudge were established in 1868, although some sources give the date as 1871.  They do not appear in our many London directories until 1891, although there are references to Goudge on his own.  Internet references to New Bond Street are incorrect, it was New Broad Street.  In the eighties, The Musicians' Piano Atlas published revised entries for Jarrett & Goudge, based on nothing more than my vague comment that Michel's numbers were “about forty years out”.  Bearing in mind that the following dates are my more recent estimates of individual pianos, achieved without reference to anything else, it is strange that they are almost exactly forty years later than Michel’s version.

1885~  #3,500

1890~  #4,000

1895~  #5,200

1900~  #6,000

1905~  #8,500

1910~  #9,800


KELLER, Stuttgart, Action Makers

1882~  #9,600     1894~  #85,452     1910~  #20,644

Numbers don’t seem to run in any logical sequence, and are probably encoded.



A number on the soundboard preceded by the letter K, near the left end of the keyboard, is probably a piano made by Kemble.  It is sometimes difficult when a name is taken over by another factory, and the numbers can change.  In the early 1900s for example, the “Cramer Agencies” had absorbed such old names as Brinsmead, Dale Forty, Dussek, Cavendish, George Russell, Metzler, Saville, and Justin Browne.  Some, in turn, were later taken over by Kemble, and their numbers changed again.  Kemble had absorbed the remnants and descendants of many great London names, such as Addison, Allison, Bates, Beale, Brinsmead, Browne, Chappell, Clementi, Collard, Cramer, Kirkman, Longman, Metzler, Squire, Wilkinson, Wornum, etc., and also made pianos for the trade under many different names, including Barnes, Bijou, Brinsmead, Chappell, Cramer, Dresdner, Firth, Higgins, Minx, Osbert, Regent, Renn, Rogers, Rogers Eungblut, Sebastian, Shenstone, Squire, and Stiles.

Identical models may appear with many of these names.  They only found out in recent years that they were established in 1911, and by 1921, their numbers were in the 13,000 range.  By 1930, their serial numbers were preceded by a letter K, and normally located on the left in the interior, at keyboard level.  I have no evidence to connect them with the much earlier firm of George Kemble.  In 2009, the Kemble factory, which had been owned and supported by Yamaha for some years, finally closed down, the last of England’s large piano factories.  Hackney Archives have some of Kembles’ archive information, but it may not be not catalogued yet.  Some modern serial number dates for Kemble pianos are listed near the bottom of this page.




Kirkman, originally a harpsichord maker, was producing pianos by 1777, before Broadwood, yet the published numbers do not begin until #1000 in 1835.  Godfrey Twitchen kindly sent this photo of his Kirkman piano with Pan legs, which I estimate as being made around 1869, yet its number is #2790, suggesting about 1842.  Although it was apparently built by Kirkman, its action is French, the “breakfront” case is very much in the style of Erard, Paris, as is the oblique stringing and underdamper action, the number doesn’t seem like a Kirkman number, and is a long way from that of our 1864 Kirkman.  (Breakfront furniture has the middle section protruding in front of the end sections.)



In spite of the fact that no definite evidence of dates has been found in our own Kirkman pianos, 1864 and 1874, most of their published numbers seem about right by the mid-1800s, although they got through many more numbers than they made pianos.  The only confirmed date we have for them is

1878  #31,000

from Sherborne’s stock records.  After the Kirkman name was taken over by Collard & Collard in 1896, the published numbers hardly moved until 1922, in fact they went backwards for a while.  It is puzzling that the address 3 Soho Square, demolished in 1903, was still being marked on the wrestplanks, perhaps they were old stock.  Charles Begg's 1914-15 stockbook shows new Kirkman pianos being sold with completely different serial numbers that suggest the 1870s.  These show a variation of 13,300 in a year, which we cannot assume to be the number of pianos manufactured and, as often happens, they did not sell in number order

1915 #19,700

1914 #30,200

1914 #32,100

1915 #33,000

By the 1920s, they had numbers suggesting the 1880s.  We are asked to believe that only 790 of this famous name were made in 26 years – less than one per week.  Here are some estimates.

1927 #40,300

1930 #49,700

1932 #56,000

1937 #56,600

The impression from these is that they made an average of 1677 Kirkman pianos a year, or at least got through that many numbers from 1915 to 1937.


KOHLER, Berlin, Action Makers

The wartime numbers shown here in red are not in sequence.

On average, the others get through about 15,000 numbers per year.

1892~  #35,000

1895~  #50,000

1897~  #88,400

1900~  #100,000

1903~  #141,500

1905~  #200,000

1905~  #226,500

1906~  #251,300

1907~  #314,000

1908~  #322,500

1908~  #344,800

1909~  #359,200

1910~  #375,000

1911~ #425,000

1912~  #473,500

1913~  #514,200

1915~  #520,000

1917~  #645,200

1918~  #688,500

1920~  #560,000

1921~  #581,100

1925~  #600,000

1926~  #615,600

1936    #702,000



F. LANGER & Co., Berlin, Action Makers

Langer & Co. supplied actions to so many different piano makers, they sometimes got through 20,000 numbers in a year, and their factory was bigger than some that made whole pianos.  If an Edwardian piano has a German-style action with no maker’s name, the number may well line up with the following list.  In 1892, Langer & Co. said that they were producing more than ten thousand actions a year, but their numbers only went up by about 8,000 per year.

1882    #1

1890~  #63,000

1891~  #71,000

1892~  #79,000

1893~  #87,000

1894~  #95,000

1895~  #103,000

1895~  #106,300

1896~  #111,000

1897~  #119,000

1898~  #127,000

1899~  #136,000

1900~  #144,000

1901~  #153,000

1902~  #162,000

1902~  #170,000

1903~  #173,000

1904~  #185,000

1905~  #210,000

1906~  #245,000

Our Bansall piano circa 1906 has an un-named German action with the number 246,603, probably Langer.

1907~  #280,000

1908~  #295,000

1909~  #330,000

1910~  #345,000

1911~  #365,000

1912~  #385,800

1913~  #410,000

1914~  #425,000

1915~  #440,000

1916~  #455,000

1917~  #470,000

1918~  #480,000

1919~  #490,000

1920~  #500,000

1921~  #530,000

1922~  #570,000

1923~  #615,000

1924~  #643,000

1925~  #665,000

1926~  #690,000

1927~  #715,000

1928~  #730,000

1929~  #755,000

1930~  #780,000


Ad. LEXOW, Berlin, Action Makers

1890~  #147,700

1891~  #186,100

1892~  #209,700

1894~  #216,500

1896~  #229,800

1896~  #226,400

1899~  #293,500

1905~  #319,900

1909~  #470,000

1914~  #552,000

1914~  #555,900

1920~  #578,000

1922~  #607,000

1923~  #616,400

1923~  #618,100

1924~  #625,300

1925~  #630,000

1926~  #634,400

1927~  #672,000 Lexow received a Grand Prix for their actions

1928~  #678,000

1929~  #684,800


L’UNION, Paris, Action & Key Makers

1900~  #15,400             1903  #20,630

Later taken over by Herrburger Brooks.


John MALCOLM & Co., London, Piano Action & Organ Makers

Well-known as a maker of harmoniums, (we have a 1914 example #32315) Malcolm also made piano players, and piano actions, and these usually have a numbered label on the rear of the hammer rail.

Rubber-stamped numbers:

1910~  #12,000                1915~  #15,000

Paper Labels:

1921~  #18,000

1922~  #24,000

1923~  #30,000

1924~  #37,000

1925~  #63,000

1925~  #64,000

1926~  #73,000

1926~  #78,600

1927~  #83,000

1928~  #97,000

1929~  #102,000

1930~  #108,000

1931~  #113,000

1932~  #119,000

1933~  #119,500

1934~  #120,000

1935~  #121,000

1936~  #122,000

1937~  #123,000

1938~  #124,000

1939~  #124,500

1940~  #125,000

1941~  #126,000

1942~  #127,000

1943~  #128,000

1944~  #128,500

1945~  #129,000

Several tuning customers commented that “you still have that cough” and I began to realise that I only coughed when I was working on pianos with Malcolm actions.  I suppose I must be allergic to something in the felt dust.



Monington & Weston pianos have separate belly numbers (soundboard numbers) in addition to the published serial numbers.

1926 #11,600

1929 #14,000

1930 #14,300

1931 #15,500

1932 #17,100

1934 #20,000

See also the modern numbers near the bottom of the page.


MORGENSTERN & KOTRADE, Leipzig, Action Makers

Some have adjustable brass flanges, as illustrated.

1892~ #17,500

1899~ #60,000

1913~  #100,000

1918~              #181,600

1920                 #192,300



Murdoch upright pianos typically have a number on the top edge of the bass end of the case, with a smaller number at right-angles, thought to be a model number or type, but the published numbers for Murdoch are unreliable, although they can often be dated quite reliably by the action number, if it is made by Malcolm.  Many of the pianos had made-up names such as Claremont, Normelle or Rottmann.  At some point, Murdoch took over the Spencer factory, but also used other factories, so Murdoch pianos cannot usually be dated by numbers.

These pictures show that a Murdoch piano had the number 1647, and also 187 at right-angles to it, and 21647 further inside, in addition to 214A encircled on the iron frame.  That one indicates a “scale number” - a design for the layout of the stringing, and not individual to that piano.  187 is thought to be a model number, and is no help to us, but we are left wondering whether the serial number is 1647 or the more likely, longer number 21647.  It doesn’t really matter because we can’t reliably date Murdoch numbers anyway!  An uncommon example was dated by the Malcolm action numbers listed above…

1921           Murdoch #61962



In terms of names, there were ELEVEN different Schiedmayer firms, so before you apply any published information such as serial numbers to your piano, it is vital to check inside and outside for the full name of the company that made it.  Sadly, various sources (especially on the internet) see the name "Schiedmayer" and immediately jump to the conclusion that it is some particular firm, without checking first.  Other simply refer to “Schiedmayer” as if there was only one firm.  Ehrbar has a similar problem, you need to check which Ehrbar you are dealing with.


JOHANN CRISTOFF SCHIEDMAYER made clavichords in the eighteenth century.


BALTHASAR SCHIEDMAYER, clavichord maker, produced his first piano in 1735.  He had 3 sons…


ADAM SCHIEDMAYER made pianos in his own right.


DAVID SCHIEDMAYER made pianos in his own right.


JOHANN DAVID SCHIEDMAYER succeeded Balthasar, and was succeeded by Johan Lorenz Schiedmayer.


DIEUDONNE & SCHIEDMAYER had a brief partnership from 1809 to 1825, involving Johann Lorenz Schiedmayer.


J.L.SCHIEDMAYER began under his own name.


SCHIEDMAYER & SOEHNE became one of the two main Schiedmayer firms in Stuttgart, when J.L. was joined by his sons Adolf & Hermann.  Perhaps from 1845?


ERWIN MULLER-SCHIEDMAYER was established at Wurburg in 1874.


J.& P. SCHIEDMAYER was founded in 1853 by Johann's younger sons, Julius & Paul, and became the other main firm.


SCHIEDMAYER PIANOFORTEFABRIK was a later name for the company formerly known as J.& P. Schiedmayer, perhaps from 1870?  Their published numbers may appear to remain at a thousand per year from 1871 (#9000) to 1925, but the entries do not include every year, and anyway, the pianos have more than one number.  According to various sources, modern pianos bearing the Schiedmayer name were made by Kemble UK, and more recently by Kawai, Japan



SCHUTZE & FREUND, Berlin S.O.33, Action Makers

Schutze & Freund (literally “trade and friend”) were making piano actions from at least 1880 to 1928.  Some actions were exported for use in English pianos, and some were used by German firms, including Baldur, Hauptmann, Waldstein, Musikhaus Ortlieb, Neumeyer, Steck, etc.. 


Around 1880-1910, they often made upright actions which were integral with the keyboard, so that they could be removed from the piano whilst still connected to each other, as they normally are in grands.  (Henri Pape did this in the 1830s.)  This can make repairs and adjustments in the home more difficult, and require 2 people, and a table of suitable height.  Such actions are rarely seen now, I recently worked on this one dated 1904, but previously hadn’t seen one since the seventies.  Isermann may have made them in that form too.


A Schutze & Freund action with a number 31,256 is thought to date from about 1896, although this does not correspond to the following sequence.

1890~  #350,000

1894~  #363,700

1899~  #430,000

1900~  #445,000

1901~  #460,000

1902~  #475,000

1903~  #490,000

1904~  #510,000

1905~  #530,000

1906~  #550,000

1907~  #570,000

1908~  #590,000

1910~  #626,300

1921~  #224,800

1922~  #316,400

SCHWANDER, Paris, Action Makers

Apart from Henry Schwander, the family did not make pianos, but their name is often hidden inside old pianos, on the rear of the action.  By the 1870s, Jean Schwander’s name was followed by that of his son-in-law Herrburger, who later took the lead.  After 1878, some actions are marked with an imprint of their exhibition medals, as in the sketch above. 

1865?         #150,582 in Bechstein piano

1880~  #159,500

1880~  #160,100

1885~  #225,000

1886~  #240,000

1887~  #255,000

1888~  #270,000

1889~  #285,000

1890~  #300,000

1891~  #315,000

1892~  #320,600

1892~  #330,000

1893~  #345,000

1894~  #360,000

1895~  #375,000

1896~  #387,000

1897~  #400,000

1898~  #415,000

1899~  #430,000

1900~  #445,000

1901~  #458,400

1901~  #460,000

1902~  #475,000

1903~  #490,000

1904~  #510,000

1905~  #530,000

1906  #559,000 definite date

1907~  #570,000

1908~  #595,000

1909~  #620,000

1910~  #645,000

1911~  #670,000

1912~  #690,000

1913~  #700,000

1914~  #710,000

1915~  #727,300

1920  - see Herrburger Brooks



Pianos that used Shenstone keys include Bansall, Brasted, C.W.S., Eavestaff, Kemble, Emile Auberon, Witton & Witton, Windsor, and of course John Shenstone & Co. Ltd., although we don’t think they actually made the pianos.  Shenstone key labels are dated, but their numbers seem to have used some sort of code, they are not in sequence, so they do not help us with dates.  In the thirties, Shenstone keys were normally used in conjunction with Herrburger Brooks actions.  Sometimes, Shenstone iron frames are marked with JS and a number.  I visited Shenstones’ TV shop in Leyton years ago, they had no archive material.



We receive more enquiries about Spencer numbers than any others, and my entries on the Piano History Forum have had over twenty thousand hits for Spencer postings alone.  Hundreds of their surviving instruments are listed in our files and, as with many old pianos, you can usually just open the top, and immediately see a serial number, often accompanied by a model number or letter.  If you find the number 27673, it is not a serial number, it refers to a patent.  Spencer & Co. were established in 1883, just getting started at a time when cottage pianos were going out of fashion, so they made very few of those, but the published dates of numbers for Spencer don’t begin until #25,000 in 1895, and the early ones seem to be wrong. 

1885~ #4,000

1890~ #14,000

1895~ #24,000

1900~ #34,000

According to the Pierce Piano Atlas, Spencer piano number 38,833 was made for HRH the Princes of Wales in 1905, but this is incorrect, her purchase was mentioned in Murdoch's Music Album celebrating the Coronation in 1902, and 1902 is also the likely date of the number.  Strangely, it must also have been made or sold before #37,163, which has a plate inside it referring back to the royal purchase.  Another aspect which adds to the confusion is that the titles such as “Duchess of York” or “Princess of Wales” are applied to different people at different times, and by 1894, the then Duchess of York had purchased a Spencer piano and said “What a fine tone it has”.

What we do know for a fact is that by 1909, the numbers had reached 52,000, suggesting that in 26 years, they got through an average of two thousand numbers per year, although it is unlikely that they made that many pianos.



1905 #44,600 dated on key label

1909  #52,000 documented - receipt

1913 #64,600 dated on key

Surprisingly, their numbers continued to increase at a similar rate through the 1914 war, then settled down to about one thousand per year.  By the 1950s, some more modern pianos bearing the Spencer name have numbers that look like those of the 1880s.



There is a lot of confusing and misleading information published about dates of numbers for “Steinberg”, partly because there were several separate firms using that name.  As far as Steinberg Berlin is concerned, in spite of the sudden increase in the early twenties, this list is the best we can offer, compiled from a number of different sources.  It seems that serial numbers may have been counted in steps of a thousand per year, with the first 2 digits also representing the year, so #28,000 might be 1928.  The firm was established in 1908.


1908 #8,000?

1910 #10,500

1912 #12,100

1914 #14,000

1923 #23,600

1927 #27,000

1936 #34,000

1938 #38,000


The later examples are in a different sequence, but they are dated under the keys…


1965   #39,510 “Sole distributors Gilberts Pianos Ltd.” made by Rogers?

1967 #39,590 “Sole distributors Gilberts Pianos Ltd.”

1973 #40,600 made by Kemble?



Although some Bord pianos were imported by Keith, Prowse & Co., most of the Victorian and Edwardian Bords in Britain arrived through the London importer Charles Stiles, of Southampton Row, and his stock numbers may appear inside the pianos in addition to the serial numbers, adding confusion, especially as some are so close in date to Bord’s.  He occasionally put his own name on instead of Bord’s, but later Stiles pianos were made by Kemble.  John Markham was one of my bosses when I worked for Berry Pianos, and he had lived next door to Charles Stiles when he was young, so I suspect there was more than one generation of Charles working from at least the 1870s to the 1930s.  Stiles’ stock numbers…

1888~ #5,300

1897  #14,600

1901  #16,100

1904  #17,200

1909? #19,400



The few available dates we have for Stodart (London) pianos all seem to be estimates, some are my own, some from owners, museums, restorers etc.. The numbers do not run in a single continuous sequence, so without photos of the WHOLE piano, we can't guess anything about the date.  Some of the variations may be because of various members of the Stodart family producing pianos. The only published lists are for the later American firm, and some of those are misleading.


VESTEY, London Key Makers

Established 1860

1924~  #3,900

1925~  #4,800

1929~  #6,100

1930~  #6,700

1930~  #6,900

1930~  #7,300

1935~  #14,800

1940~  #18,300

1945~  #21,700



Henry Ward was established in 1854, and was based at 100 Great Russell Street until the 1890s.  The Cottage Piano we have here, #7637, which I estimated at 1873, is dated 1876 on the side of the key of the top note.  Marie Judge emailed about another Cottage Piano #8671, which I estimated at 1878.  It is dated 1878 on the key!  Apart from these, the only other firm date we have is the 1890 one…

1854 #1?  They averaged about 347 numbers per year, suggesting these dates…

1860~ #2,000

1865~ #3,700

1870~ #5,400

1876 #7,637 is imprinted 974 on a vertical post inside the bottom of the piano.

1878 #8,671 is imprinted 990 on a vertical post inside the bottom of the piano.

Then they got through about 444 numbers per year, suggesting the following dates…

1880~ #  9,500

1885~ #11,700

1890 #13,999, keys dated 5-15-90, also has 2508 inside.

1897 #16,006 is dated on the side of the bottom key.

1899 Henry Ward had moved to 44, Arlington road, Camden Town NW.

1911 He seems to have ceased trading, but the name continued to be used in the twenties. 

#43,600 is thought to be about 1922.




Numbers published for Wornum are misleading because they do not give the Piccolo Pianoforte numbers, or the grand numbers, and as more and more production was devoted to Piccolo Pianos, the numbers for these almost began to catch up with the main number sequence.  Pianos bearing the Store Street address must be after 1830. 


Piccolo Pianoforte numbers

1830  #400

1832  #540

1835  #1,200

1840  #2,100

1845  #3,000

1850  #4,000

1855  #4,900

1860  #5,900


In the main numbers, for example, #4,900 is dated 1837.  Our Wornum & Sons piano, dated 1875, generously provides confirmation of the same number 13,159 in 4 different places, as shown above.



By the 1890s, Henry Zender was producing pianos in London.

1896 Henry Zender & Co. Ltd. - Sole inventors and patentees of The Combined Piano, Music Cabinet (to hold 1,000 pieces of music) and Stand.

1901~         #3700

1923 His output included backless uprights sold as “W.H.Barnes”. 

Around 1924, Sydney Zender seems to have taken over from Henry, but we have no numbers until…

1957 #24,600 & 26,100

1959 #45,000

1962 #31,800

1963 #34,500

1964 #36,200

1957 #24,600 & 26,100

1959 #45,000

1962 #31,800

1963 #34,500

1964 #36,200

1957 #24,700      & #26,100

1959 #45,000

1962 #31,800

1963 #34,500

1964 #36,200

1965 #37,900

1967 #40,700      & #41,100

1968 #43,000

1969 #447,00

1970 #46,300

1971 #47,300

1973 #52,100      & #52,900

1974 #54,000      & #55,100

1975 #2,000        & # 2,300

1976 #3,700 & #4,800 on belly, & #58,600 Dymo label on back

1977 3 completely different sequences  #5,447        #50,013           #162,134

1978 #8,100

1980 #70,500 & #72,600       by Barratt & Robinson

1984 Zender by Bentley



Without donations, I will be fine, but our collection may not survive for future generations, and it may all end up on a bonfire.  If every visitor to this site made a small donation, we would have better displays for our building, and much-improved facilities for research within our own archives.  Cheques must be made out to Bill Kibby-Johnson.  Foreign cheques are subject to high bank charges, so if you are posting a donation, bills are easier to change without any of your money disappearing on charges.



This is a list of twentieth-century serial number dates, mainly from some of the pianos I have tuned over the years, which were reliably dated inside.  Where several numbers are known for the year, I give the earliest and latest.  It would be so easy for other tuners to keep such information on index cards or computers, and help us to preserve history.  If you have an idea of the date, and the true maker is uncertain, you may be able to guess it from the numbers on this list.

1902 Hemingway #7,500

1903 Cramer       #34,500

1904 Cramer       #36,700

1905 Cramer       #38,100

Rogers       #21,700

          Seabrook   #32,000

1907 Boyd           #23,800

1908? Squire & Son     #24,600

1909 Broadwood White #36,300

          Hicks          #13,800

          Stiles          #119,200                        by Bord

          Collier         #11,700

          Spence       #22,700

1910 Beckley      #39,800

          Cramer       #45,600

1911 Boyd           #27,100

1913 Waldberg   #34,500                          by Danemann?

1914 Ajello          #22,700

          Strohmenger #13,400 & #13,700

          Wheatland #22,800

1915 Dale Forty #29,600

          Danemann #36,900

          Gilbert         #7,600

          Hansen       #8,700

1917 Collard        #186,600

1920 Beadle & Langbein #19,300

1921 Kemble       #13,800      Dated on a paper label on the back.

1921 Loufer         #1,100

1922 Ehrmann    #2,500 & 9,400

          Paul Gerard #1,600

          Hauptmann #2,1900

          Lestel          #6,800

          Normelle    #3,300        & #10,000 – a completely different sequence

1923 Barnes        #9,200        Maker unknown

          Chalton       #18,527      Labelled “Karn”

Collard        #191,013

          Hocking      #13,000

          Hofmann    #14,400

1924 Brooklyn     #25,800

          Challenger & Hicks #38,100

          Garrick       #92,900

          Hilton & Hilton #26,500

          Niendorf     #23,100

          Parker         #91,800

          Cooper Southam #21,800

1925 Chappell     #70,900

          Kemble       #20,800      Dated on a paper label on the back.

          James Smith & Son #40,200, actual maker unknown.

1926 Bell              #138,100

          Co-Op         #2,100

          John Ralph #99,400

          Windover    #45,700

1927 Squire         #36,300

1927 Boyd           #44,100      & #45,300

1928 Boyd           #46,800      & #46,900

          D’Almaine #52,400

          Hicks          #37,800

1931 Amylette     #7,300                            by C.W.S.

          Dagmar      #85,400

          Elmore        #71,500

          Ebhar          #43,900

          Stiles          K36,000                          by Kemble

          Squire & Longson #14,700

          Strohbech #37,800

1932 Barnes        #36,400                          by Kemble?

          Allison         #53,600

          Hicks          #43,700

1933 D’Almaine #1,400

          Osbert        #36,500                          by Kemble?

1934 Barnes        #39,700                          by Kemble?

          Kirkwood    #45,600

          Osbert        #42,700                          by Kemble?

          Squire & Longson #15,757

          Stahl           #4,000                            by Challen

          Hopkinson #84,800

1936 Barnes        K58,800                         by Kemble

          Barnes        #43,200

          Dale Forty #6,800                            by Challen

          Gilbert         #44,700

          Schubach   #7,700

1937 Bentley       #47,500

          Boyd           #49,000

          Challen       #63,000

          Dale Forty #6,800                            by Challen

          Monington & Weston    #59,700

          Osbert        #49,000                          by Kemble?

          Regent       #9,400                            by C.W.S.

1938 Amylette     10,400                            by C.W.S.

          Barnes        #66,300                          by Kemble

          Boyd           #87,900

          Challen       #56,300      Frame cast in 1935, keys dated 1938

          D’Almaine #51,500      & #51900   by Bentley?

          Knight         #1,500

1939 Barnes        #54,300

          D’Almaine #53,200

          Kemble       #69,300 painted on frame, K69300 imprint on soundboard

          Knight         #2,400

1940 Bansall        #121,212 in our timeline.

1946 Eavestaff    #5,400 – see main list.

Welmar       #46,000      Their numbers seem to start with 2 digits of the year.

1950 Danemann #67,300

1951 Kemble       #85,600

1952 Broadwood #259,400

          Welmar       #52,500

1953 Bentley       #75,200

          Challen       #79,300

1954 Berry           #43,400      & #43,700

          Danemann #72,700

          Eavestaff    #151,100    & #155,600

          Knight         #13,700

1955 Bentley       #80,000      & #80,100

          Berry           #44,000      & #44,100

          Challen       #82,300                          by Brasted

          Keppell       #52,800

          Knight         #16,900

1956 Berry           #44,200

          Boyd           #171,000                        by Brasted

          Chappell     #84,200

          Eavestaff    #167,800

1957 Berry           #44,400      & #44,600

          Boyd           #105,000                        by Kemble

          Zender        #24,700      & #26,100

1958 Barratt & Robinson       #16,200

          Bentley       #90,800

          Berry           #44,900

          Chappell     #85,200

          Danemann #76,700

          Kemble       #106,100

1959 Barratt & Robinson       #40,700

          Boyd           #106,500                        by Kemble

          Eavestaff    #175,000    & #176,000

          Broadwood #262,800

          Challen       #87,100

          Zender        #45,000

1960 Bentley       #95,500

          Berry           #45,000      & #45,900 by Berry

          Eavestaff    #176,100    & #180,300 by Brasted

          Rogers Eungblut           #112,000              by Kemble

          Kemble       #110,400    & #113,890

1960 Welmar       #55,900

1961 Kemble       #113,600

          Bentley       #97,400

          Cramer       #130,700

          Eavestaff    #180,000    & #180,500

          Knight         #31,800

          Schreiber   #44,100      & #44,300  by Barratt & Robinson

1962 Eavestaff    #180,600                        by Brasted

          Paul Gerard #8,800                          by Kemble?

          Kemble       #114,900

          Squire         #117,200                        by Kemble

          Zender        #31,800

1963 Berry           #43,700      & #46,100

Berry serial numbers reduced slightly when made by Barratt & Robinson

          Eavestaff    #181,700    & #182,900

          Knight         #35,300

          Lincoln        #100,800                        by Bentley

          Lindner       D29,054

          Monington & Weston    #72,600

1963 Zender        #34,500

1964 Challen       #91,000

          Eavestaff    #183,600

          Gilbert         #46,000                          by Barratt & Robinson

          Giles           #10,000

          Kemble       #120,900    & #121,900

          Knight         #45,600

          Monington & Weston    #73,000      #38,200 on belly

          Welmar       #65,200

          Zender        #36,200

1965 Boyd           #14,600

          Brinsmead #123,700    & #126,000          by Kemble

          Challen       #91,800

          Danemann #84,100      & #84,800

          Hayward     #2,000

          Knight         #38,700

          Rogers       #46,500

          Steinberg   #39,510      Berlin “Sole distributors Gilberts Pianos Ltd.”

          Zender        #37,900

1966 Eavestaff    #184,400    & #185,300

          Welmar       #66,200

1967 Bentley       #112,300

          Danemann #88,200

          Knight         #42,500      & #42,800

          Schreiber   #18,300                          by Barratt & Robinson

          Steinberg   #39,590      Berlin “Sole distributors Gilberts Pianos Ltd.”

          Zender        #40,700      & #41,100

1968 Challen       #93,300

          Eavestaff    #186,600

          Kemble       #132,400    & #134,400

          Zender        #43,000

1969 Bentley       #116,700

          Brinsmead #138,400                        by Kemble

          Eavestaff    #188,000

          Zender        #447,00

1970 Berry           #49,800      & #51,400 by Barratt & Robinson

          Challen       #95,300      & #95,400

          Kawai         #297,500

          Kemble       #139,400

          Knight         #47,800      & #49,400

          Zender        #46,300

1971 Barratt & Robinson       #57,600

          Bentley       #120,500

          Berry           #52,800      & #54,500

          Cramer       #147,400                        by Kemble

          Kemble       #148,200

          Knight         #49,400

          Otto Bach   #47,900      & #48,700 by Knight

          Schreiber   #48,600                          by Barratt & Robinson

          Zender        #47,300

1972 Bentley       #123,700    & #124,600

          Berry           #54,800      & #58,600 by Barratt & Robinson

          Broadwood #265,900

          Challen       #100,300    & #100,600

          Gunther      #4,700                            by Kemble

          Kemble       #145,700

          Knight         #48,500      & #51,200

          Reislan       #51,200                          by Zender

          Rogers       #48,900

          Yamaha     #1,318,300

1973 Rippen        #120,900

          Baldwin      #987,400

          Barratt & Robinson       #60,700

          Berry           #59,700      & #60,700 by Barratt & Robinson

          Kemble       #154,400    & #154,500

          Knight         #51,900      & #53,600

          Steinberg   #40,600                          by Kemble?

          Welmar       #73,300

          Wurlitzer     #15,4000                        by Kemble

          Yamaha     #1,445,500          & #1,605,800

          Zender        #52,100      & #52,900

1974 Bell              #55,000                          by Zender

          Bentley       #130,200    & #131,900

          Berry           #19,400      & #62,200 by Barratt & Robinson

          Brinsmead #162,400                        by Kemble

          Broadwood #26,500

          Challen       #101,400    & #102,500

          Danemann #96,000      & #97,000

          Eavestaff    #188,000

          Jermyn       #25,900

          Kemble       #162,100    & #162,500

          Knight         #54,500

          Robt Morley #59,300                        by Barratt & Robinson

          Spencer     #54,800                          by Zender?

          Welmar       #73,700

          Yamaha     #1,278,900          & #1,747,800

          Zender        #54,000      & #55,100

1975 Bentley       #132,900    & #136,800

          Bluthner     #142,100

          Challen       #101,000    & #102,100

          Danemann #97,500      & #98,000

          Eavestaff    #169,900

          Giles           #2,100                            by Zender

          Knight         #56,800

          Spencer     #54,800

          Yamaha     #1,445,600

          Yamaha     #H 2,245,700

          Zender        #2,000        & # 2,300

1976 Baldwin      #1,021,600

          Baldwin      #71,624      grand I tuned for Liberace concert

          Bentley       #135,900    & #137,800

          Berry           #63,500

          Knight         #58,200      & #62,600

          Kawai         K743,200

          Zender        #3,700 & #4,800 on belly       #58,600 Dymo label on back

1977 Baldwin      #978,100    & #1,148,000

          Barratt & Robinson       #68,500

          Bentley       #138,100

          Berry           #64,100

          Bluthner     #142,900

          Broadwood #268,200

          Geyer         #79,500

          Pearl River #12,300

          Yamaha     C 2,355,200

          Zender        3 completely different sequences  #5,447           #50,013      #162,134

          Baldwin      #1,150,200          & #1,180,500

          Barratt & Robinson       #69,000

          Chappell     #185,400

1978 Cramer       #186,400

          Estonia       #2,300

          Kemble       #186,100

          Zender        #8,100

1979 Baldwin      #329,900     new Monarch Model

          Baldwin      #1,184,400          & #1,205,300

          Berry           #69,400      & #70,500

          Challen       #103,500    & #64,900?

          Fuchs & Mohr #94,300

          Kemble       #189,800

          Knight         #62,600

          Welmar       #79,200 on frame         #24,600 on belly

          Zimmermann       #202,900

1980 Baldwin      #119,000

          Bentley       #146,300

          Brinsmead #199,700

          Chappell     #93,800      & #94,300

          Kemble       #199,700    & #193,900

          Knight         #64,300      & #64,800

          Ronisch      #166,500

          Waldstein   #79,042,800

          Zender        #70,500

          Zender        #72,600      by Barratt & Robinson

1981 Fuchs & Mohr #103,400

          Yamaha     H 3,031,400

1982 Baldwin      #1,241,300

1984 Zender        #        By Bentley

2004 Yamaha Japan 608,000 & 609,000

2004 Yamaha UK E312,000 & E319,300

2004 Yamaha by Pearl River, China C70,000

2004 Yamaha Indonesia J2111,000

I would be pleased to hear from anyone who has dated any piano numbers by using the action number lists, or can date more action numbers for us.  I find them a very accurate guide for antique pianos, but for more modern instruments, Barrie Heaton says "The problem with action numbers is that it all depends when the action was used:  I remember talking to David Martin at Herrburgers about the single escapement action –‘when did they stop supplying?’ -  he gave me a rough date, but then said that it was a good few years after that when manufacturers stopped using them as they had a back stock, and that was the case for all the common actions. - When I did part of my training at Bentleys, there was a big room full of actions and keyboards, and the action finishers would go in and grab the nearest one for that model, so they didn't run in sequence.  However, having said that, I would be surprised if the action date was more than three years late.” panio paino pisno ponia piano history collection