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MMD > Archives > February 2002 > 2002.02.11 > 01Prev  Next

Manufacture Dates of Seeburg Nickelodeons
By Art Reblitz

Seeburg E #155,827 was made in the Seeburg factory, probably in 1922.
If the original piano hammers are still present, there is probably a
date rubber-stamped on the bottom of the wood molding, somewhere in the
mid-range of the piano.  The piano was probably sold within a few months
of that date.  The dates for Seeburg, Marshall, and other related pianos
in the Pierce Piano Atlas (previously Michael's) are wrong.

In Seeburg pianos made through the early 1920s, the player stack often
had a number stamped into the top or front, or on the bleed rail or
cover.  Stack numbers in early pianos seem to be a reliable indicator of
how many pianos the firm produced.  From 1909 until 1920 or 1921, during
which period Seeburg bought pianos from Haddorff, Edmund Gram, and
Seybold, the highest stack number that I've seen is 7,576.  The earliest
number is unknown.

When Seeburg began making its own pianos in the Dayton Avenue plant in
Chicago in about 1921, it started a new series of stack numbers, the
highest of which I've seen is 1,416.  The lowest number is unknown.

After mid-1923, Seeburg applied a paper sticker to the tin housing for
the coin accumulator mechanism.  I've seen these numbers from 1,009
through 7,550.  This represents about 6,500 more coin pianos and small
prohibition-era orchestrions, but does not include a substantial number
of photoplayers, mortuary organs, and Western Electric instruments made
by Seeburg which do not have the coin box stickers.

Before 1920, each style of pipe chest seems to fit into its own serial
number range.  I don't have enough pipe chest numbers to draw a valid
conclusion yet, but the highest number ought to indicate how many Gs,
Hs and others were made.  To me, it would be particularly interesting to
learn how many of each large orchestrion was produced.

I've included quite a bit of history on Seeburg and the other coin
piano manufacturers in my new book, "The Golden Age of Automatic
Musical Instruments."  However, I still plan to publish a series of
lengthy articles or possibly a whole book devoted to the Chicago firms.
Please continue to send serial numbers for coin pianos and orchestrions
made by Seeburg, Marquette (Cremona), Western Electric, Operators
(Coinola), Nelson-Wiggen, and Link, and the other numbers mentioned
above for Seeburg: piano stack, coin box, and pipe chest serial
numbers, and piano hammer date.

For each piano, I also need the motor brand, serial number, model
number, and date code if present.  I do have production dates for
Holtzer-Cabot motors made during the coin piano era, and they generally
correlate with the piano serial number dates that I've compiled.
Records for later (post-coin piano era) Emerson motors indicate that
the date code is a tiny letter/number combination embossed in the
border of the nameplate, but I haven't obtained the codes going back to
the 1920s.  The original motor in my Seeburg E with xylophone, #157,956,
for example, has the code NP 162 embossed sideways on the right side of
the nameplate.  There is always a possibility that the earlier records
may become available.  Anybody out there know someone who works for
Emerson who might have access to them?

Art Reblitz

(Message sent Mon 11 Feb 2002, 18:28:14 GMT, from time zone GMT-0700.)

Key Words in Subject:  Dates, Manufacture, Nickelodeons, Seeburg

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