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MMD > Archives > March 2006 > 2006.03.21 > 08Prev  Next

QRS Old Piano Roll Auction
By Matthew Caulfield

I received this letter from Dan Wilke today:

  "Although still living in the Dark Ages (as I don't have a computer
at home), I had a chance this week to catch up and read some of the
archives of the MMD.  I was touched to see some discussion about the
QRS Old Roll Auction, and thought I'd send you some of the curiosity
figures in response to your posting of March 12th.

  "During the 13 years that I ran the auction operation for QRS,
I conducted a total of 56 auctions.  Lists were sent out about every
2-1/2 months.  A typical list contained 430-450 items, and usually
all would sell except for maybe 15-20 items.  Minimum bids for regular
88-note rolls was $4.50 (not 50 cents [as I had said]) and average
selling price was right around $13.00 per roll.

  "Although Zez Confrey was certainly a sought-after roll artist,
it was Pete Wendling who usually drew the most attention from bidders.
Marches sold fairly well, but it was German (foreign) word rolls
and, believe it or not, the _really_ strange, obscure, unknown and
off-the-wall classical stuff by composers we've hardly ever heard
of that really brought big bucks!  And not reproducing rolls either.
A bunch of my regular bidders really went nuts for the obscure 88-note
classical rolls.

  "In January of 1999 it was announced to the employees of QRS that
the factory would be shutting down for a minimum of 6 months, and
everyone was being laid off.  There was some doubt as to whether or not
operation would even start up again, and this was very upsetting to me,
to see this happening to a company I had such high regard for, and
a product that I loved so much.  The auction operation was being
eliminated completely, and for the first time in almost 15 years
I found myself out of a job.

  "Things have never really been the same for me since...  After over
seven years I still miss QRS and the auction _very_ much.  Most of all
I miss my customers.  Several of my 'regulars' still keep in touch with
me on a personal basis, and that means more to me than I can ever
express in words!"

I phoned Dan in Buffalo this evening for permission to quote the above
from his letter to me.  He explained that unprofitability could not
have been the reason for Q.R.S. discontinuing the auction: it was one
of the most profitable of the company's activities.  In fact, Dan tried
to negotiate an agreement with Q.R.S. allowing him to continue the
auction service on his own, but he was never able to get their

Matthew Caulfield
Irondequoit, New York

 [ See Karl Ellison's conversation with Dan Wilke of July 1995, at
 [ -- Robbie

(Message sent Wed 22 Mar 2006, 01:48:56 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Auction, Old, Piano, QRS, Roll

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