Antique Piano Value

Question: I have a piano for sale that’s very rare and I do have some information about it already:

  • Steinway
  • BP
  • Louis XV
  • Painted

The reason I’m inquiring is that I think it’s worth more than what it has been valued for. Can you advise me on this?

– Mark Colt (Argentina)

Albert’s reply: You’ll need to hire a piano technician who’s a specialist in antique piano values. If you’ve done so already, it certainly won’t hurt to get a second opinion from another expert.

It’s also possible to get an online piano appraisal at a reasonable cost. This is a recommendable option and will give you a useful ballpark estimate of your piano’s value. Since with online piano appraisal the piano technician can’t actually play or open up your piano, you’d need an on-site piano technician familiar with your market to give you a more accurate estimate.

If you look up the serial number of your piano, you’ll be able to determine the year it was built. This will be published in a Blue Book of Pianos or other such reference work.

The year alone will tell nearly nothing of your piano’s value since so much of piano values depends on the condition of the instrument. Unfortunately, I’ve played many old Steinways that are now in poor condition, after decades of heavy use. They can be restored or even rebuilt entirely, retaining little more than the case and frame and resulting in effectively a totally different (and often very beautiful) piano.

Whether or not your piano has been restored or rebuilt will have a major effect on its value. Is yours a truly historical piano? If so, are the hammers original and in very good condition? Is the soundboard free from cracks? If it’s been recently rebuilt, it should be in “as good as new” condition and its value will increase accordingly. Rebuilding your piano might be a $15,000 or $20,000 job, but it might also increase the instrument’s value beyond that.

The current market will likewise affect your piano’s resale value. At the end of the day, your piano has intrinsic value, sentimental value and finally resale value.

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