Aeolian Pianola Piano Player

Aeolian Pianola Piano Player

<< >>
Usage conditions apply

This piano player was made by Aeolian Co. in New York, New York, around 1901. It is a pianola player, with 65 felt covered metal fingers. This instrument can accommodate 11-1/4" wide 58 or 65 note paper rolls. This pianola has a hinged lid to access the spool box to exchange piano rolls, and levers to operate bass and treble accents, tempo, and play/rewind. A two-door panel on the bottom front of the pianola conceals two folding foot pedals used to activate the bellows. The back of the pianola with its 65 felt covered metal fingers is placed above the corresponding keys on a piano, with a lever at the bottom in contact with the piano’s sustain pedal.

Edwin Votey is attributed as the inventor for this instrument. The patent for it was originally filed in 1897 and then renewed in 1900. U.S. Patent #650285, dated May 22, 1900.

This pianola also features the following patents:

U. S. Patent #351172, dated October 19, 1886, by Merritt Gally for sheet motors for mechanical musical instruments.

U. S. Patent #356690, dated January 25, 1887, by George B. Kelly for improvements in mechanical musical instruments.

U. S. Patent #357933, dated February 15, 1887, by George B. Kelly for improvements in a motor for mechanical musical instruments

U. S. Patent #594981, dated December 7, 1897, by Theodore P. Brown for a pneumatic motors for musical instruments.

U. S. Patent #595466, dated December 14, 1897, by Theodore P. Brown for foot pedals for musical instruments.

U. S. Patent #601163, dated March 22, 1898, by Robert W. Pain for improvements in adjustable music rolls for mechanical musical instruments.

U. S. Patent #627570, dated June 27, 1899, by Joseph P. Chase for an improvement in primary valves for automatic organs.

Currently not on view
Object Name
piano player
date made
Aeolian Co.
place made
United States: New York, New York City
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
metal (overall material)
plastic (overall material)
overall: 37 1/2 in x 44 in x 16 3/8 in; 95.25 cm x 111.76 cm x 41.5925 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
serial number
Credit Line
Gift of Mrs. Julian James
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Musical Instruments
Music & Musical Instruments
Popular Entertainment
Mechanical Musical Instruments
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.

Note: Comment submission is temporarily unavailable while we make improvements to the site. We apologize for the interruption. If you have a question relating to the museum's collections, please first check our Collections FAQ. If you require a personal response, please use our Contact page.