A conventional player piano is operated via a perforated paper roll inserted above the keyboard, and large pumping pedals below the keyboard.

While pumping these pedals, vacuum is created which pulls air through the holes in the paper roll, causing the piano note to play.

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Most of our vintage ephemera collection doesn’t show upright pianos until the 1870s, although upright pianos were built on a limited scale all through the early and middle 19 century approached, makers began shifting their production from the square grand piano to the upright piano, as the public’s tastes were beginning to change and homes were becoming smaller and less suited for large square grand pianos.

In the 1880s and 1890s, upright piano production increased substantially and by the last decade of the 19 century, the square grand piano that had dominated the market for the past century had all but vanished.

For the next 100 years, the square grand piano would evolve into a larger, heavier, and more mechanically refined instrument.

century, American piano makers built and sold more square grand pianos than grand pianos or upright pianos!

A handful of manufactures attempted to build pianos in the Craftsman/Mission style, but because the Movement was so short-lived, most of them didn’t see the significance of the Arts & Crafts Movement until it was too late; the Arts & Crafts Movement was over before 1920.

Sadly, very few manufacturers ever offered Craftsman style pianos, and as a result, original specimens are exceedingly rare today.

Since this was the height of the Victorian era, manufacturers were building their upright pianos with exotic woods and lavish carvings, often producing incredibly ornate and lavish models to suit the décor of the era.