Now that old cars have been brought up, the similarity between the
people restoring, collecting and 'hot rodding' cars is very similar
to what is happening to player pianos.
Although I don't necessarily side with any particular stance all the
time there are good reasons for doing each depending on the situation.
A rare reproducing player probably should be totally restored as
originally manufactured in both player and piano actions, as well as
case and appearance. This is similar to having a very valuable car
body restored but ignoring the engine because it still runs okay.
On the other hand, I have a circa 1918 Willard with a Standard action
that needs both player and piano work. Although the case is sound
it's a very plain piano and not really worth investing more money than
If cars, both of these would be considered 'original' with no
questions. The totally junk (and sometimes not-so-junk) car that
is rebuilt with a modern engine, or so modified that you can't tell
what it started out as, is definitely not 'original', but that doesn't
mean it's not highly desirable in itself. A well-done nickelodeon
conversion would be more valuable than a plain upright player.
So nobody is wrong or right, but as far as 'original' goes, it was made
by the factory only once, and only in one way, and that is original.