I have over the years fitted quite a few interesting antique pianos into my shop schedule. This is interesting work, and always a good learning experience. My first encounters of this kind (beyond the usual 'old' grands of the modern type) were with American square grand pianos. These appear frequently in auction listings and rural classified 'shoppers' in the Midwest, and are inexpensive - but involve so much labor and have such a small buyer market that nobody repeats the effort too many times. My first one we still own, a large ornate Decker & Son, New York, 1870's. It had been too-heavily restrung, and after our rebuild it played long enough to get our kids through piano lessons and then the weakened plate gave out. It is glorious furniture. I restored a couple of other squares, including this nice little Firth & Pond (Boston, 1855) for a Wisconsin collector.
The real pleasure and learning has come from a couple of Viennese grands. The first was by a maker named Reithmeyer, and is judged to be from the early 1840's. It has the number one written in pencil on the inside, and the maker is otherwise unknown. He may have been an employe from one of the known Viennese makers, who decided to try it on his own. The piano ended up very handsome in sound and appearance; the action is a bit heavy but not difficult.
Another is a lovely antique, about half restored, the Schrimpf, Vienna, 1860(?). The maker is known; several of his instruments have survived, all of good quality. The notes which are playing are lovely, the action one of the lighter type. About 20 notes in the treble remain to get working, and the damper pads need replacing with a better-sized felt than some previous restorer used. I have plans and photos for the missing pedal lyre. The Circassian burl walnut is gorgeous. I will use the original hammers, which are not in the best shape, until I hear the sound and play it a while. I have had modern reproduction hammers made which I may eventually install. I would like to pass this project along to someone with the time and interest to finish it, along with all materials I've assembled, for a very reasonable price. Delivery is possible near Wisconsin. I have too many projects! Click here for pictures.