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As I have mentioned on an earlier forum topic, I own an old piano, that has survived the passing of time extremely well. 

Gebrüder Knake
Münster I/W
S/N: 5858
Grand piano 215 cm, 7' 1"
88 notes
Just two pedals
Burr Walnut finish (beautiful)

I am in the process of documenting as much as possible anything related to this piano. I want to leave my children a "Family book" of this piano
It has been in my family for four generations. Probably since new. 
Originally it included some sort of push-up pianola. This device didn't make it to this time. It was gone on a flood some 60-70 years ago, in Mexico City. 
This piano has been sitting at my own home for the last 17 years or so. 
It is a gorgeous piano. I will attach some pictures later. 
Other than my own family, all info I have from it came from an antique musical instruments dealer from Germany, about 15 years ago. He mentioned that probably this piano was built around 1895, on the Münster factory, which also didn't survive WWII.
He has been about the only person on earth that has given me a specific piece of info for this piano. All others I have asked (phone, internet, etc.) say there is not much info on this. BTW, I tried to reach this antique dealer a few weeks ago, and could not reach him any more :-(
My own research says that the factory began producing pianos in 1808 and finally closed in 1929. 
I found a book in Germany (over the internet, in german language, which I don't speak :-( ), which title is something like "Piano makers in Westfalia" by Hans Meier. The cover of this book shows a piano almost identical to mine, of the same brand, except by the music stand. Mine is much nicer ;-).
Searching over the internet, I have found some pianos in the UK, India, and a couple in Argentina and Uruguay, and many in Germany. 
That is about what I have. 
I know there are many forists from Germany and/or familiar with this brand. 
I would truly thank any piece of information anyone could provide regarding this brand of pianos, or maybe some history about this piano maker. 


Rodolfo Grunberger
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Gebrüder Knake Grand, 7'1", circa 1895
Celaya, Mexico
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I am fluent in German, and also a member of a German Piano Forum. Is there any specific information you would like to know?


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Rudolfo,

I am a tech from Münster, Germany and I am familiar with Gebrüder Knake pianos. The first thing I can tell you: nice instruments. If you want to know the age, just take a look at the keys. In every upright the exact date of production was written on the side of the very left or very right key. I guess that this is so also in grands. If you pass me the serial number, I could tell you the production year.

In my shop I have a book with some historical data of Knake, I will write that tomorrow. Furthermore, a collegue of mine has written a chronical of Knake. I allways wanted to ask him for that but haven´t yet. I you wait a few days I can pass it to you, unfortunately in German.

I guess you mean that book:

[Linked Image]

Gregor


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Gregor, I will be delighted if you can send all information you can get from your friend. The serial number is 5858, and I haven't seen that date you mention on the keys. I have to remove the action to take a look at the first or last key.

Yes, this is the book I mentioned. This could be my piano, except for the music stand, a little different. I insist, other than minor problems and worn hammers, it still sounds beautifully.

I promised pics. i will post them later today.

Thanks a lot.


Rodolfo Grunberger
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Gebrüder Knake Grand, 7'1", circa 1895
Celaya, Mexico
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Mark, thanks for your offer on translation. It shouldn't be an issue. I have german friends here who can help me out on this one. Anyway Google is also a great option for quick translations.

Gregor, Maybe you saw another post I placed regarding new hammers for my piano. What would your suggestions be for this specific piano?

Thanks all for your help.


Rodolfo Grunberger
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Gebrüder Knake Grand, 7'1", circa 1895
Celaya, Mexico
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They certainly knew how to build beautiful pianos in the olden days. Here is a Gebrüder Knake for sale in England:

http://www.besbrodepianos.co.uk/showroom/showroom4.htm


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Rudolfo,

your piano was made between 1887 and 1898, likely 1890. By coincidence I saw a Knake upright yesterday. It had no production date on the keys and it was the oldest Knake I ever saw (built in 1868). Straigth strung underdamper, totaly detuned and 300 cent flat, but the action still worked and it was tuneable. I see many Knake uprights here in Münster, but very seldom grands.

This is my translation of an article that was published in Europiano 1997:

In 1808, J.B. Knake built his first sqare piano in the farming community Leblick, Kirchspiel Heyden. His son Bernhard returned to his father´s company after he took to the road. He improved his constructions and switched from square pianos to building uprights and grands, which he displayed in Münster. 1851 the production facilities moved to Münster (the street was called Rotenburg). Some day he still needed greater facilities and moved again, now to Bispinghof 15/16, where the company was located until 1917. Their pianos were known for a very solid construction, excellent tuning stability and a noble tonal character.

1896 B. Knake (died in 1903) handed the company over to his son Hermann Knake (born on 1. January 1859). Specialty of the company was the production of pianos that were finished for the use in tropical climate and were exported all over the world. 1896 they opened a second store in the best location of Münster, Principalmarkt 34. After a great fire in 1899 the facilities were built up again by the owner at that time, Hermann Knake. For that purpose he called Max Hanemann from Leipzig, who worked as plant manager and constructing engeneer. The capability of the company grew up to 50 % and they had 80 workers.

1904 the company was changed into a incorporation. Still before the WW I they built the world wide smallest symmetric grand piano (145 cm). Hermann Knake, who represented the company in the third generation, died on 03. September 1908 in the age of 49, only a few month before the 100 year jubilee on the 12. December of that year. He left two sons, Bernhard who studied chemistry, and Hermann junior, who learned to build pianos is the fatherly firm. Both sons died in the WW I. The administration directors Oskar Schräder and Wilh. Brenken tried to keep the firm on running. But the widow Maria Knake lost interest in the company due to the lost of her husband and sons and the further consequences of the war. 1917 the company was liquidated, but had stopped production yet in 1915. Unfinished goods, models and materials were sold to other piano makers. The production facilites were sold to M. Hanemann and A. Hoffmann, who both had worked for Knake yet (Hoffmann died in Decmber 1937).

First the firm produced military goods such as vehicles, then only sandals and later they run a mill saw and had 250 workers. After the war they switched into "Münstersche Holzindustrie, Hoffmann & Hanemann o.H.G." They produced high quality furniture and the company was sold in 1922. The brand name "Gebr. Knake" was then used by Oskar Schräder, who opend a piano store in Bahnhofstraße 28. In 1929 there was a music shop Burkhard, owned by Wilhelm Mattusch, in Bahnhofstraße 28 a. It´s likely that O. Schräder gave up his shop in 1926 to start again a new company named Gebr. Knake.

The history of this world famous company was continued in a somehow strange manner: in 1923 a piano factury was founded in Lotharinger Straße 23-25 under the name of "Hanemann & Stollmann A.G." (Max Hanemann, former plant manager of Gebr. Knake). In the building was a factory for basketry named "Hochherz-Erben" and the storage of a household wares firm, in the upper rooms was the piano factory. After a great fire the piano factory moved to Grevener Straße 165/167, new associate was Walter Stollmann. in 1926, that factory founded together with the piano store named Gebr. Knake the new "Gebr. Knake Pianofortefabrik GmbH". That new firm produced 9 grand an 5 upright models, all of own construction. Oskar Schräder brought in a own model and the old upright 136 model of the old factory. Pianos with the brand name "Gebr. Knake Pianofortefabrik GmbH" carried as foundation year 1808 and logos and medals of the old Gebr. Knake firm. It created the impression that the new pianos were of well-tried quality. A court decision banned the use of the old logo because the only connection between the new and the old company were the model 136 and the fact, that 12 workers from the old company worked in the new firm. 1930 the name was changed into "Klavierhandelsgesellschaft mbH. 1934 Walter Stollmann died. It´s likely that pianos of the new firm were produced only until 1930. The company was liquidated in October 1939.


Here is a picture of the symmetric grand, also known as Glockenflügel:


[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]


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Gregor,

I truly appreciate all info you provided. It is certainly the most extensive piece of information I have read about my piano.

Can you tell me how you got to mention the production date of the piano? Is there a specific source you have access to? (book, files)

Thanks for taking the time to do the research and translation.

Regarding the pics I promised, I took some with my iPhone but didn't like them. Tomorrow I will try with a digital camera.

And great looking piano on the pics, altough a little weird. Kind of strange to play on a piano where the lid opens backwards and blocks your view of the audience.


Rodolfo Grunberger
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Gebrüder Knake Grand, 7'1", circa 1895
Celaya, Mexico
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There is a book called "Atlas der Pianonummern" with serial numbers and production years of the well known brands.

BTW, the casting pattern of the iron frame of one Knake upright still exists. A local collegue of mine has it in his cellar.

Gregor


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Gregor,
Thanks for the photo. I have one of those small symmetrical grands in my clientele. It has a simplified action and the bass strings cross over at an impossible angle. Tonally it is not that great but I'd have one in a second. The plate is beautiful with its circular styling. The photo of the piano with the rear lid lifted so high makes the piano look a bit strange, it looks better in "real life".


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Here are the pics, (again, embedded)


[Linked Image]

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[Linked Image]

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Last edited by Rudy99golf; 04/01/12 05:07 AM. Reason: Embed images

Rodolfo Grunberger
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Celaya, Mexico
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Wowee,
from the shape of the case, the mouldings, the burl walnut, the quality of the plate finish...
... that was one seriously expensive, top notch instrument.
And there is no reason why it shouln't be returned to its best.

***Please don't let anyone install large hammers and leads in the keys.***

I still recommend re-felting the originals as it's the safest bet in my opinion. Even if you don't, ask the tech to keep and give you the old hammers. If you keep them, then refelting always remains an option, and you have the originals as guides to size and weight. If he chucks them, then you won't...

Good luck, and cherish it!

Last edited by James Senior; 03/11/12 06:39 PM.
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Beautiful!

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Yes, it is a beauty.

Just sent the request for quotes both to France and to Mr. Isaac in Canada.
I'll ask also in Abel Germany.
I'll let you know what comes out of this quotes.

BTW, you noticed I don't have the original bench. The stool is of the same period, and just had it restored, but the guy who did it didn't match the color, so he is having it redone. :-(

Could anybody suggest a particular model or design for a bench?

Maybe our friends from Germany have seen one. If so, please send pics, so I know what I am talking about, and maye have it made by a good carpenter/craftsman.


Rodolfo Grunberger
Piano amateur
Gebrüder Knake Grand, 7'1", circa 1895
Celaya, Mexico
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James Senior, sorry for the delay in my answer. I'm on a business trip. BTW, today I had the chance to visit Fort Worth, TX Steinway hall, where I had an extremely pleasant experience. I'll comment about it on other topic.

Anyway, I'm not sure what I'm doing at the end with those hammers, but I really appreciate your suggestions. They are about right and precise.

Mr. Isaac mentioned that he doesn't refelt old hammers because sometimes when old felt is being removed, the hammer breaks because it is too weak due to the age of it.

I'll let you know what goes on with those hammers.

Thanks again!!!


Rodolfo Grunberger
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Gebrüder Knake Grand, 7'1", circa 1895
Celaya, Mexico
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Does anybody know how difficult it is to retrofit a sostenuto function to old pianos such as these when they are restored/rebuilt/remanufactured?

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Originally Posted by daifanshi
Does anybody know how difficult it is to retrofit a sostenuto function to old pianos such as these when they are restored/rebuilt/remanufactured?
I am not sure what that has to do with this piano or this thread. But yes, it was discussed here recently, check the archives.


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Originally Posted by Supply
Originally Posted by daifanshi
Does anybody know how difficult it is to retrofit a sostenuto function to old pianos such as these when they are restored/rebuilt/remanufactured?
I am not sure what that has to do with this piano or this thread. But yes, it was discussed here recently, check the archives.



Thanks for referring me to the archives. It's a search function which I've used in the past, but there were no real details as to why it shouldn't be done. Other than a cryptic statement about not having enough room in reference to a Bechstein. And other things about how teachers don't understand how sostenutos work so don't bother. Thanks anyways.


Rodolfo,
That looks like a fine piano. I hope you find time to enjoy it every day.

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To say they don't make them like that anymore is certainly an understatement,all I can add is WOW! a real beauty! smile

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FYI, this piano doesn't have a Sostenuto pedal.

It only has two pedals.

And thanks Bob, for your compliments.


Rodolfo Grunberger
Piano amateur
Gebrüder Knake Grand, 7'1", circa 1895
Celaya, Mexico
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