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MMD > Archives > May 1997 > 1997.05.06 > 07Prev  Next


Grinnell Bros - Canadian Perspective
By Dave Kerr

This on Grinnell Bros. Ltd. from the Canadian book Downright Upright
mentioned here 97.05.05 by Nelson Denton.

"Established as an organ manufacturer in Detroit in 1882, Grinnell
did not enter the lucrative piano business until 1902.

As a border city, neighboring Windsor was often the specific target of
the Detroit enterprise.  By September of 1908 Grinnell had opened a small
branch factory in Windsor.  Employing four men in those early days, the
firm seemed content to be a supplier of instruments to the immediate
area, not venturing much more than 100 miles from either city.

With a retail outlet in Sarnia and Chatham, Ontario, the Grinnell stores
also acted as distributors for Nordheimer, Ennis and R S Williams pianos,
and during the 1920's carried at least seven brands of Canadian-made
radios as well as victrolas, player piano rolls and sheet music.

By 1927 twenty-five people were employed at the Windsor factory,
all Canadian citizens.  A 1924 fire razed the Windsor shop at
126 Ouellette Avenue but the decision was made to rebuild on the
same site.

The radio and phonograph market, however, soon captured the larger share
of the 1930's trade.  By 1945 the Grinnell piano had ceased to be made
in Windsor although the Detroit plant operated until 1961.  Grinnell
used the stencil names Holly, Clayton, Leonard and Playtona in
southwestern Ontario for several years.  Circa 1910 it also distributed
a line of Uxbridge (Ontario) reed organs."

Sample prices from the October 1928 25th Annual Sale of summer resort pianos:

   Player-piano with rolls/bench - $199,  others - $299 to $495 reconditioned
   and fully guaranteed by Grinnell Bros.

   ENNIS player, brand new, reduced for the sale - $525

   $1.25 per week buys an Upright Piano, $2.00 per week buys a Player-Piano

I have not come across a Grinnell reed organ.  Plenty of Bell, Doherty,
Dominion, Goderich, Karn, and the occasional Estey.

Dave Kerr <sprocket@orc.ca>


(Message sent Wed 7 May 1997, 01:13:34 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Bros, Canadian, Grinnell, Perspective

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