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A Legacy of Love, Music, and Generations United by the Emerson Cabinet Grand!

The Anderson Family Piano!

The Anderson Family Piano!

Can there be any nicer gift to two daughters, who are now mothers in their own rights, than to receive a restored antique piano that they grew up with, practiced on, and mastered by playing it to varying degrees of competence? Well that’s our family. Our daughters, Courtney and Zoe began taking lessons some 35 years ago from local teachers in our hometown near Lake Charles, Louisiana. Both myself and my wife, Carol , never had time in those early days to devote to learning any instrument. Raising two children while working (Carol a chemist and me a civil engineer) left little time for music. Carol and I retired ten years ago and out daughters now have families of their own. Four grandchildren (3 girls and one boy) range in age from 2 to 19. Gifting to moms Courtney and Zoe the heirloom Emerson Cabinet Grand upon which they learned to play will again allow them to enjoy the music they learned and will learn. Living close enough to share time on their time on this piano is planned - the two sisters have a wonderfully close relationship. Additionally, our vision is to inspire the two youngest grandchildren to learn to play on it. My connection to the piano began relatively recently. Although it had been in the family for more than 30 years, I took little notice of it except for the times when our children were taking lessons. To me, the piano was just there. But after retiring 10 years ago my interest in music and our piano gained ground. Dabbling with it (never taking lessons) I began to appreciate the fine tone and quality of the instrument. Not being much of a musician myself, I instead began studying music theory and applied what I learned on our piano. And researching the history of this particular piano, I began to realize what a jewel we possessed. Thoughts of reconditioning it began to formulate but I realized we did not have the means to return it to its prior glory. It is our two daughters and our two youngest grand daughters who will benefit from the Emerson’s rehabilitation. Both daughters on many occasions have told me of their joy as children playing on it. Having the opportunity again play upon it is something they would love. Likewise, offering a renewed Emerson to grand daughters Marlowe and Vienna will continue the tradition. Choosing our Emerson for restoration is an investment in the future of our girls and future generations. No one in our family has any thoughts of giving up on the Emerson even if is not restored under this competition. She will remain in the family - the piano will eventually go to our daighters under any circumstance. She is part of the family and will always remain so.
The story of our 120-year-old piano begins relative recently. As payment for a debt owed to my wife some 40 years ago, the piano was given to her by a family member in San Antonio and later transported to our home in Louisiana. Knowledge of prior ownership has been lost with time. However, over its lifespan the piano has been well cared for with no signs of damage from the elements. The Emerson Cabinet Grand Model 8 1/2, 56 inches in height, is massive. It was built between 1895 and 1899 in Boston by the Emerson Piano Company. The action was built by Wessell, Nickel, and Gross in New York City. Apparently Emerson negotiated contracts with various sales outlets to market some of their pianos. One of these outlets, Thomas Goggan and Bros, was located in San Antonio Texas - it is from this distributor that we eventually obtained our Emerson. The piano has fought off six hurricanes that damaged our home in Southwest Louisiana surviving a roof collapse, torential rains, and frightening wind - but our piano never experienced any water damage - we were lucky. From the “Antique Piano Shop” website I discovered that this piano was one of the highest grade models and most expensive in the Emerson line. It has a reputation as having exceedingly good tonal quality that even today can be heard even though the piano has not been tuned in more tha 20 years. Despite the lack of attention over the years, this wonderful instrument has fared well. I see no cracks in the harp nor do I hear buzzing from a cracked sound board. Of course all the felts including hammer felts have degraded and need replacement. Strings are all in tact as are the keys topped with original ivory. I hope to keep the these original keys. However, some key tops need chip repair and a few need replacement. The entire piano is about 300 cents flat. Hopefully it can withstand a pitch raise during rehabilitation. The cabinet will require refinishing as time has taken its toll. However there is no significant marring of the wood except for the two side panels at the key bed - the veneer is partially missing - I suspect a puppy might have had fun chewing it away! Not being an expert on wood species, I’m not sure of the cabinet composition - it is possible that book-matched walnut as described on the “Antique Piano” website was used. Photos of other Emerson Cabinet Grands after refinishing are stunning - its our hope that ours can be added to this list. Our family would be most grateful if our wonderful Emerson could be restored to its former elegance.

  • YEAR 1800-1900
  • MAKE A Legacy of Love, Music, and Generations United by the Emerson Cabinet Grand!
  • FINISH Walnut
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