Friday, 4 April 2014

Serial Number 46994

A moving story from The Mint Green Cruiser

Serial Number 46994 - a little difficult to read in the photo, but stamped proudly into the frame

This is the serial number of our pianola (correctly called a player piano).   It has been in my late husband’s family for many years purchased by his dad for his mother who just loved to sing.

Many nights were enjoyed around the pianola singing all the old time favourites at the old house in Everton Park.

Interestingly we discovered you could search the serial number on the Beale site on the internet and discover the date of manufacture.

Serial Number 46994 built in 1922 – at the Beale Piano Factory in Annandale, NSW.
The Beale piano factory was established by Octavius Beale, an Irish born (1850) multi faceted personality. He married in 1875 to produce thirteen children. He was an accomplished linguist, a great traveller and a fellow of the London Royal Historical Society and the Royal Society of Arts. He was also president of the New South Wales Chamber of Commerce and a trustee of the Australian Museum and the Bank of New South Wales.
Beale started his business career as an importer of German upright pianos. A few of these imported instruments survive, and are named 'Hapsburg Beale'. The Beale piano factory was established at 47 Trafalgar St Annandale, and grew to become the largest piano factory in the southern hemisphere in the early 1900's.

Fellow bloggers and FB friends know I have recently downsized from a large house to a two bedroom unit (hence a moving story).  Much discussion was had regarding the fate of Serial Number 46994.  Would we bring it with us or give it away to a family member.  It would definitely be ‘the elephant in the room’ totally out of place in a new unit with modern white furnishings and shiny tiles.

Decision made, time to action the plan.  Furniture removalists normally will not move pianolas, far too much weight. Specialists were called.

Three lovely young lads looking rather tense trying to squeeze it through the door.   We all breathed in here.

Down the stairs.

  Onto the truck, $370 to move it from Enogerra to Clontarf.  

Serial Number 46994 has added over the years to household expenses.  We paid for it to be moved from Brisbane to Gympie, then from Gympie to BrisbaneWhen I had the floors polished at Enoggera, I had to pay to have it moved about 20 feet from the kitchen to the lounge room.  We wheeled it into the kitchen while the floors were being polished, but did not want to wheel it back over the newly polished floors. Paid $120 for a couple of nice young blokes to move it from one room to another.  It is only money isn’t it!

 An article about Octavius Charles  Beale and his piano factory.

A story of Australian commitment to industry, achievement and excellence which dates back to humble beginnings in the last part of the 19th century, the Beale story is an inspiration to all. Founded in 1893 by Octavius Charles Beale, the building that housed the factory at 47 Trafalgar Street, Annandale still stands
today, testimony to the strength of the thriving Australian piano industry of the day. Indeed Beale and Company rose to be the largest piano manufacturer in the
British Empire, producing some 95,000 pianos from 1893 to 1975.
The French music critic Oscar Comettant, visiting Australia in 1898 commented that:
“… there is probably no piano factory in the world so completely self-contained as the Beale factory at Annandale, NSW. Certainly there is none in the British Empire that produces nearly so many parts used in piano making …”
Beale set out to manufacture every element of his pianos. The range of trades he incorporated into the factory is astonishing: brass and iron foundries – ‘incorporated into only one other piano factory in the world’; power houses; timber yards, stores, mills, joinery works, cabinet departments, veneer works; paint and pattern shops, machine and electro-plating departments; keyboard action-making and fitting, tuning, intonating; drying kilns, dust-proof polishing rooms and experimental laboratories.

Sadly many of these trades and skills are no longer needed in our modern world.  

Serial Number 46994 is sitting, pride of place in the lounge room.  I feel it knows it is out of place and is just laughing at me.  I haven't played it as yet in its new surrounds as I am sure you would be able to hear it from Woody Point.  Shiny tiles, glass doors and high ceilings will make me a little unpopular with my neighbours.  The units are very quiet, not much noise gets through, but I think the pianola might be an exception.

When you talk to friends and acquaintances you find there are many of these old pianola's still around.  A friend has recently spent three thousand dollars renovating theirs.  We have about fifty of the pianola rolls mostly all old favourites, many of them played by famous artists.  You can still buy the rolls and there are many available secondhand on Ebay.

My daughter is happy to have Serial Number 46994 with us she is the one who couldn’t bear to leave it behind.  In the end I am glad she insisted it came.

The End.
Another story from The Mint Green Cruiser.
Thank you for the comments on my blog.

No comments:

Post a Comment