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MMD > Archives > October 1999 > 1999.10.08 > 03Prev  Next

Faventia Barrel Piano
By Ed Gaida

Al Pebworth's post in the MMD on 991007 concerning his restoration of
a Faventia barrel piano prompted me to add my bit to the mix.  I went
to Al's site and viewed the pictures and listened to the excellent
recording of the music.

I have pictures of two different model Faventia's on my web site.
They are located at:

Also listed there is a bit of history about the three different models
that I have worked on.  The one pictured on Al's site is the smaller
scaled version and lacks a wood block which can be louder than the
whole piano.

The three versions of the larger scale piano I have encountered include
the standard hand cranked model which plays six tunes, the standard
model with a spiral pinned barrel that plays three tunes and is de-
signed for continuous playing and this second type with an electric
motor.  When I was in Spain in 1961, I visited the Faventia factory
and bought a piano.  It has the continuous play feature and I had two
barrels pinned with the selections of my choosing.  I paid a little
over USD 300.00 for it at that time!

The electric version which is shown on the web site had an ingenious
speed control for the barrel.  It consisted of a lever which moved the
round leather belt up or down on a stepped pulley on the motor.  Look
for it in the pictures.

The ones imported to the United States usually have the tuning scale
pasted on the inside top lid of the machine.  Since mine came directly
from Spain it does not have this feature, but the notes are stamped on
the plate.

The 'deluxe' system consisted of a piano with electric motor, cart,
stuffed donkey and a mannequin whose left hand was attached to a shorter
crank than used for hand playing.  Sitting on the sidewalk outside a
shop, it gave the illusion that a midget was playing the piano.  In
1961, it seemed that every gift or toy shop in Spain had one at the
front door.

I have had the pictures on my site for over a year and have been sur-
prised at how many requests for information I have received from all
parts of the world about those small pianos.  I would guess that there
are a lot of them out there.  The MBSI Mart at the Philadelphia
convention had one of the smaller scaled ones for sale.  I neglected
to get the asking price.

Yes, keeping them in tune for any length of time is next to impossible.

Ed Gaida

(Message sent Fri 8 Oct 1999, 13:41:54 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Barrel, Faventia, Piano

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