The first thing I did was check with Steinway about the piano?s serial
number. (Sometimes information gets passed down about a piano?s age
that turns out to be inaccurate.) 244874 is, indeed, a serial number
from 1926. (To see this for yourself, check out ?Find Out How Old Your
Steinway Is? at http://www.steinway.com/technical/how_old.shtml )
Now, it?s important to realize that there are several possible values
for any piano. First, there?s the price a dealer would pay for it,
which is around the same value you?d get if you sold the piano
privately. Then there?s the value if you were to *buy* it from a
dealer. If you just want to know for insurance purposes (or your
personal curiosity) what the piano?s worth, the last value may be most
useful. If you want to sell the piano, one of the first two values
will be more useful.
In addition, several factors must be taken into consideration when
attempting to value any piano. The brand name is of great importance;
fortunately for your friend, it doesn?t get much better than Steinway.
The type of piano (upright, spinet, grand, etc.) plays an important
role, also. Some types are worth much more than others. In your case,
it?s important to realize that an upright is worth considerably less
than a grand.
The condition of the piano is the next thing to look at. This is so
important that a good appraisal should include a personal inspection
by a qualified professional. Remember that there?s no such thing as
?good condition for it?s age.? It?s either in good condition, or it?s
not. Consider both the outside appearance of the piano (the finish,
trim, keys, etc.) and the inner workings of the piano. Again, an
expert can assess this easily, but here are a few pointers:
* Is the inside of the piano musty smelling? This is a sign of serious
issues, and means the piano is probably worth very little.
* Do the hammers strike all the strings?
* Do all the keys play?
* When the bottom board is removed, is there any sign of pests? If so,
the piano is probably not worth anything.
* Are there any cracks, inside or outside, the piano? The piano's
probably not worth anything if there are.
* Is there any rust anywhere?
For more pointers, please see ?Buying A Used Piano? at Bluebook of
It sounds like the outside of the piano in question is in good to very
good shape. Also, there?s nothing to worry about if it just needs
tuning; however, sometimes what we think of as ?out of tune? may
indicate a more serious problem, so have your friend check inside for
any of the above issues, or for any bumping or thumping noises when
the keys are played.
The National Piano Manufacturers Association says the average lifetime
of a piano, without restoration, is about 40 years. (?Information You
Need Before You Buy,? http://www.pianoworld.com/buypiano.htm )
Another key factor is age. Although most pianos are purchased to be
played (and therefore sound quality is of vital interest), pianos that
are pre-WWII are rarely of keen interest to painists, except as a
second piano that?s appreciated for its history and/or beauty.
As Piano World correctly points out ?Unlike say, a Chippendale writing
desk or Tiffany lamp, an old piano is usually just that, an old piano.
While restoring a fine piece of furniture usually involves a craftsman
restoring the finish, this would only be the starting point with a
piano. The piano is a complicated mechanical marvel involving
thousands of moving parts, all of which are subject to wear and
deterioration. Restoring these many parts to their original condition
is a major undertaking for a skilled piano technician, requiring many,
many hours of labor. And even this is sometimes not possible due to
the lack of available replacement parts.? (?What Is My Piano Worth??
In old pianos, beauty may play an important role. Check out this
website for some good basic information on ?grading? an antique
piano?s physical appearance: ?Grading Vintage Upright Piano,? at
Bluebook of Pianos: http://www.bluebookofpianos.com/grades.html
Also bear in mind that piano values fluctuate according to where you
are in the country, and who happens to be piano shopping at that
All that said, here are a few Steinway uprights that you should look
at; they come from an excellent website, with pianos from all around
the country. Remember that these are *asking prices* :
* a 1926 upright Steinway for $2,900:
* a 1922 for $1,650:
* a1925 for $3,200: http://www.pianomart.com/ViewAds.aspx?type=3&manufacturer=76&piano=1050
Experts say that you can expect to bargain with sellers for 10-30% off
the asking price, which would make the ?real? prices of these pianos a
For actual selling prices, I've consulted ?The Piano Book? by Larry
Fine, which is considered one of the best sources available for piano
values. (Amazon listing:
A Steinway upright from the 1920s, purchased from an individual,
generally sells for about $800-1,500, assuming it?s in good to very
good playing and physical condition. That same piano, from a piano
dealer, might sell for about $1,000-2,500.
The fact that it's a former Juiliard piano adds interst, and perhaps
$100 or $200 more to the value. (Of course, if you find a buyer who
feels sentimental about Juiliard, it may increase the value more.)
If it turns out that the piano needs restoration (in other words, it
needs more than just tuning...which is something a good tuner can tell
you), the value will be less, depending upon the problem. Some
problems might be easy to fix (like a broken string), and therefore
take very little off the value. Others might be difficult to fix
because parts aren?t available; this would decrease value
considerably. Assuming the parts *can* be purchased or made somewhere,
you?d discount according to the cost of having that work done. If the
parts absolutely can?t be had or made, the piano may be worth only a
couple hundred dollars. And other problems (like cracks or mold and
mildew) make the piano virtually worthless.
I hope this answers your question more than sufficiently. However, if
you have any questions, please don?t hesitate to ask for clarification
before rating this Answer.
antique Steinway upright value
antique piano values
buying antique piano