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MMD > Archives > May 2005 > 2005.05.31 > 06Prev  Next

Seeburg L Auction Price And Declining Values
By John A. Tuttle

Hi All,

Kim Bunker's comments about the declining value of some mechanical
musical instruments is something that has both interested and concerned
me for many years.  As one whose entire livelihood centers around player
pianos, the fact that they have continued to decrease in monetary value
ever since I went into business back in 1972 should have been a warning
sign that I had perhaps gone into the wrong business.  However, it feels
like I'm busier than ever, and that's the part I find interesting.  What
concerns me somewhat is how much longer the suppliers will stay in
business if sentimental values continue to decline.

From where I sit, the problem is not the monetary value of player pianos
but rather their declining sentimental value.  As fewer and fewer people
remember the "good ole days" when they went over to Grandma's or Aunt
Bee's home and enjoyed their player piano, the desire to restore the
instrument, for the sake of preserving those memories, will continue to
decrease.  I have personally witnessed this change in sentiment over the
past ten or so years.  Many people in their 40's and 50's, who can now
afford to have their family heirloom restored, are foregoing the
restoration of the player mechanism, because they have no recollection
of it ever working.

What's interesting is that these same people _are_ interested in getting
the piano back into working order, because they clearly remember hearing
some family member play the instrument when they were growing up, and
they remember how much fun it was to hear the old people singing.

On a related side note, I went to the annual Memorial Day parade in my
town yesterday.  For various reasons, I hadn't been to the parade since
1989, but I clearly remembered the sights and sounds and looked forward
to watching and hearing the high school marching bands again.  As the
band my daughter had played in just fifteen years earlier rounded the
corner onto the main street, I was almost shocked to see how small the
band had become.  It was less than one-third the size it was when she
graduated.  What was once a loud and exciting 125-piece band, was now an
uninspiring and muted 44-member group of young musicians.  The looks on
their faces also told an interesting story.  They did not seem happy to
be there, as was so clearly the case in days gone by.  The excitement
was gone!

In my opinion, it is the lack of exciting and/or joyful memories that
will eventually cause the player piano industry to slip into oblivion.
Also, I don't really think that public displays will help very much,
because they don't connect with childhood memories in quite the same way
as being part of a family gathering did.  Eventually, the player piano
will basically disappear in much the same way as the tube radio and the
B/W television, being replaced by something that contains modern
technology and more bells and whistles.

Musically Opinionated,
John A Tuttle
Brick, NJ

(Message sent Tue 31 May 2005, 13:25:15 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Auction, Declining, L, Price, Seeburg, Values

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