Weser Bros. Transposing Upright Piano

Description (Brief)
This transposing upright piano was made by Weser Brothers in New York, New York in 1940. According to the inscription on the case, it was made “expressly for Irving Berlin.” The transposing mechanism moves the action and keyboard so that the player can play in any key. Irving Berlin was a self-taught pianist who preferred to play on the black keys. This piano is serial number 117728 and has a compass of AAA-c5, tape-check upright action, felt hammers, single-, double-, and triple-strings, 3 pedals: :soft,” transposing mechanism, and dampers, 1 hand lever under the keybed: keyboard and action shift, one-piece cast-iron frame, cross-strung, and a black lacquer case.
Description
This piano was made by Weser Brothers in New York, New York in 1940. This piano, made, according to an inscription on the case, "expressly for Irving Berlin," is a transposing piano. The transposing mechanism moves the action and keyboard so that the player can play in any key using any notes, which permitted Berlin to compose while playing mainly on the black keys. The piano has a compass of AAA-c5, tape-check upright action, felt hammers, one, two or three strings per note, three pedals: a "soft," transposing mechanism, damper lifter; and one hand lever: a keyboard and action shift.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
piano
date made
1940
user
Berlin, Irving
maker
Weser Bros.
Physical Description
felt (hammers: material)
iron (frame material)
wood (case: material)
cast (frame production method/technique)
Measurements
overall: 45 in x 60 in x 25 in; 114.3 cm x 152.4 cm x 63.5 cm
Place Made
United States: New York, New York
ID Number
MI*73.30
accession number
305340
catalog number
73.30
serial number
117,728
subject
Musical Theater
Music & Musical Instruments
Pianos
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Musical Instruments
Pianos
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Irving Berlin
Related Publication
Kendrick, Kathleen M. and Peter C. Liebhold. Smithsonian Treasures of American History
Additional Media

Visitor Comments

11/14/2012 1:19:41 PM
Judy
We have a transposing piano, on the inside is written Louisiana Exposition 1896. We are trying to learn more about this piano. Can you help me?
7/16/2013 3:30:22 PM
National Museum of American History
I have a few questions about your piano before I can give you an answer. Is there a name on the fallboard (keyboard cover) or on the metal frame inside the piano? Are there patent numbers listed on the frame? Is there a serial number (which would be on the frame)? What kind of transposing mechanism is on the piano? It's likely that the company that made this piano exhibited keyboards at the 1896 Louisiana Exposition and perhaps even won an award. Is the "Louisiana Exposition 1896" cast in the frame or hand-written? Any additional information would be helpful - use our comment form. Thank you.
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