In 1914 Wurlitzer acquired a near half-ownership in M. Welte & Sons.
In 1915 they introduced the "Wurlitzer Electric Piano - Autograph
Style" for the high grade commercial market. It utilized the
Welte-Mignon expression system in a 98-hole, 11-1/4-inch wide format
(predating the Auto-Pneumatic "Licensee" format).
Production ran from 1915 through 1926 with a two-year break during 1919
and 1920. When production resumed in 1921 the format had been changed
to a 12" wide roll making use of the Art-Echo system.
This particular machine is the last remaining example -- it is serial
number 31193, built in 1917. I was told that the piano was found in
a movie theater in Brooklyn. I suspect it was located in the orchestra
pit and there are electric buttons for remote control, most likely from
the projection booth. It was probably used to entertain patrons
between shows, but wear on the pedals shows it was hand played also.
This is believed to be the last Wurlitzer Autograph Piano in existence.
As with all Wurlitzer Autograph Pianos, it is equipped with the
Wurlitzer Automatic roll changer. It has a leather belt drive in the
bottom (as does the Wurlitzer Solo Violin Piano) rather than direct
drive, probably to reduce mechanical noise.
This piano was described on page 40 of the purple Welte-Mignon book
by Charles Davis Smith and Richard Howe, although quite a bit of the
information is incorrect. The expression system and the pump under
the keydesk are Welte built. The stack and pedal pneumatics are Deluxe
Auto-Pneumatic. The connecting rods from the crankshaft to the pumps,
however, are Wurlitzer wooden band organ style.
The tracker scale is basically Welte Licensee with two minor changes.
The Autograph rolls, of which there are about 68, were cut by Welte
(very likely on the Welte perforator in my possession). The beauty of
this is that, with minor changes, this piano can easily be made to play
Welte Licensee rolls, giving the possibility of a huge library of
This piano is in virtually untouched, unrestored condition. Along
with the piano, there is a custom designed and built roll cabinet which
matches the piano perfectly. It looks as if it had been made at the
Wurlitzer factory to go with the piano.
Photos are available and I welcome serious interested parties to come
look at it.
email@example.com [delete ".geentroep" to reply]
[ MMD articles about the Wurlitzer "Autograph" system are indexed at
[ http://www.mmdigest.com/Archives/KWIC/A/autograph.html -- Robbie
[ Wurlitzer Autograph Piano
[ Wurlitzer Automatic Roll Changer with Welte tracker bar
[ Custom roll cabinet