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Using the Plate to Date the
Age of a Lauter-Humana

With regards to the ages of Lauter-Humana player pianos, there has been some controversy for many years about the accuracy of the information that's presented in the Pierce Piano Atlas. According to the atlas, Lauter closed in 1918 with serial numbers in the 54,000 range. Also, the atlas indicates that the company started in 1903 with serial number 20,000. However, it also states that the company was established in 1862. So, perhaps they just started keeping records around 1903, and they had already made about 20,000 pianos. Looking at the listed numbers for the last eight years, they were making 2000 units a year... but I digress.

Back in the year 2000, the subject of the accuracy of the serial numbers and dates in the atlas came up in the Mechanical Music Digest (see listing of articles) and it was pointed out by Paul Manganaro and others that there was a better way to determine the age of the instruments. As it turns out, the foundry, that made the plates for the pianos, embossed a date into the cast iron plate. This date is presented in the European style of dating, i.e., Day, Month, Year. Below are pictures of how to access that number.

What's of interest is that this particular piano has a serial number of 49963, which, according to the atlas, indicates that it was manufactured in December of 1915. However, as can be seen below, the date on the plate indicates that it (the plate) was manufactured in June of 1925. And, since the strung back (which contains the main frame of the piano, the soundboard, and the plate) is the part upon which the rest of the piano is constructed, the piano had to have been made after June 1925.

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This page was last revised April 10, 2019 by John A. Tuttle, who Assumes No Liability
For The Accuracy or Validity of the Statements and/or Opinions
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