Question: We have a piano dating probably from early 19th century (could be earlier) bearing the name F. Domeyer & Osterhold, Hamburg. We have no provenance, have been unable to find any reference to this firm. Could be German or Pennsylvanian (or ????). Can you help identify it?John Ruch, President, Historic Harmony (Harmony Museum) (Harmony, Butler County, Pennsylvania, USA)
Albert's reply: John, what a coincidence, since my parents used to live in Harmony, Pennsylvania! I know the area well, though I've never been to the Harmony Museum. Who knew there was a historical fortepiano in town?!
The piano is definitely German. Piano builders in the 18th and 19th centuries always wrote the city in which the piano was built next to their name. Thus, the names of the builders are F. Domeyer and Osterhold and they built it in Hamburg.
If you upload pictures to the Pictures of Pianos page, I might be able to give you some more information. Historical pianos can be dated by things such as their keyboard compass—is it a six-octave fortepiano?—or their use of knee levers vs. pedals, among others.
The piano business really took off in the early 19th century. Vienna was a buzzing musical capital that had hundreds of piano makers in the 19th century.
Hamburg had less (though it was a major city and the birthplace of Johannes Brahms, who spent his career in Vienna). It may be difficult or impossible to find any information on this particular piano builder. Any available information would likely be in Hamburg's city archive. Domeyer & Osterhold was not one of the major piano companies of the period, although they may well be listed in some extant directory of piano builders.