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'O-H' Metal Plate in Spoolbox OTTO HIGEL'O-H' Metal Plate in Spoolbox
Otto Higel 'Metalnola' Upper Section

As seen in the two pictures above, one way to identify this action is by the "O/H" insignia, which is found inside the spoolbox on the metal patent plate. This action was made in New York City. The "Metalnola" shown below may have worked very well, but apparently did not endure. Touted as "The Player Action of the Future", the intricate and somewhat complex die cast valve chambers typically suffer from warping and cracking. Therefore, it's always best to inspect the player system thoroughly before buying it or agreeing to rebuild the action. The later type is far more common and was produced until the late 20's. The novel feature of this type was the individual pouch blocks that are clamped over the wooden valve seat, which could easily be removed to expose the small valve (which was similar in form to the Pratt-Read valve). The valve was speared over a center guide pin.

Otto Higel
The Otto Higel "Metalnola" Action
Otto Higel Action (1920's Type)
Inside the Stack of the 1920's Version

Otto Higel Valve (1920's Type)
Otto Higel Valve Parts (1920's Type)

Otto Higel (1920's Type) Exposed Valve Chamber
Exposed Valve Chamber (1920's Type)

For more help identifying a later model wooden version of the Otto Higel or Sterling player action, click here.

Information from an owner: "I moved from Canada and have a 1915 player piano with an Otto Higel player, (and) I believe the actual piano was also originally from the Toronto Otto Higel factory. Otto Higel company info can be found in the Canada archives and this company sold a lower line of pianos with the Otto Higel player and patent under the brand Canadian Piano Co." I plan to do some more research into the patents for this manufacturer.

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