Examining the Value of Vose & Sons Pianos
Vose & Sons was one of America’s greatest piano makers in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Though the company was merged during the Great Depression and folded with its partner company Aeolian in 1982, their name is still a recognizable by piano enthusiasts.
So if you’re looking for the Vose and Sons piano value (maybe because you’re looking to buy or sell), this article should help you better gauge the worth of these pianos.
What Are Vose & Sons Pianos Worth?
The average value of a Vose & Sons piano will range from the low hundreds of dollars to the high thousands of dollars, with the biggest example we have seen exceeding $8,000. A piano’s condition plays the largest role in its value, including both its cosmetic age and its audible age.
Pianos with damaged strings or hammers, for example, require restoration. Prior to restoration, the value of a Vose & Sons piano will probably be at its lowest point. After restoration, its value with likely be at its highest, especially if the restored piano functions just as good if not better than it originally did.
Examples of Vose & Sons Piano Value
Here, we will highlight some Vose & Sons pianos for sale; these listings should be a great survey in the different varieties of pianos and to show the factors that may affect the value.
1) Our first example comes to us from Alamo Music in Texas, a brown mahogany baby grand that was sold at $3,500 from its original asking price of $4,500. This example has some blemishes on the finish, but it is a stunning piano for its age. We don’t have the serial number, so we can’t exactly date the piano. I would recommend contacting the seller to find out the serial number, so that you can find the date of manufacturing.
From the physical condition, I might date this as an Aeolian piano, because for some time, the company only gave these pianos the branding of “Vose” instead of “Vose & Sons.” Other than minor blemishes, there are no cracks or key fatigue. For the price? That is a solid price for a baby grand, which can go up from $5,000 to $12,000 depending on the make.
2) This 1918 baby grand in satin walnut is on sale for $500! This can be a solid steal for the price, but I would caution anyone who is going to buy a baby grand with such a low price. Firstly, they mentioned that the piano is unplayable or not in tune. While I acknowledge their honesty, if you’re not looking for a project piano to fix up, I would not waste time in buying a non-working Vose & Sons.
For someone looking for a piano, try to look at the $2,000 and up price range. They will generally be in working order. Do look higher for a more reputable brand.
3) This Vose and Sons piano ages all the way back to 1905. It’s an upright piano in mahogany finish would be the prime example of Vose & Sons in their prime piano making days for the price of $8,995 at Parramore Music in Florida. Look at the woodworking and its beauty; it looks like a fireplace, but it’s a piano.
This would be a great addition for a home with a fireplace nearby. An added plus for some, but for me, it sticks out like a sore thumb, an in-home tuner for the piano. Other than that, for the price, it would be a great addition for a pianist looking for a piano with a beautiful flair.
Below, check out a fun video of how a Vose and Sons piano from 1910 looks and sounds:
4) This 1920s baby grand is for sale at Reverb for the low price of $250. Again, like the second example, this is another piano that you may not want if you don’t want a project. The seller notes a few cracks at the lower keys, extremely dirty, and has a dark note to it. Even if the sound is dark, you may not know if it’s in tune if you do not live in the Hinsdale, Illinois area.
Do contact the seller to learn more to see if the piano has been played recently, or tuned recently.
5) This 1923 Vose & Sons grand piano in smooth walnut finish is definitely the pinnacle of the list so far. It’s for sale at Brigham Larson Pianos at Orem, Utah for the price of $4,398. While the piano has been refurbished, to the point of near restoration, the video listed with the picture is a prime example of a piano that was recently refurbished to a playable condition. Look at the woodwork and video to hear the piano in action.
6) Our final example comes to us from Ellis Piano in Birmingham, Alabama. This is a 1970 spinet piano in brown mahogany for the price of $998. While an Aeolian owned company at that point, look at the piano’s legs and bench; they show woodwork that harkens back to Vose & Sons’ woodworking beginnings. Other than the scratches on the surface for a piano over fifty years old, this is a great deal for a student or parent looking for an acoustic piano for their child.
A spinet is a great smaller sized upright piano for beginners to enjoy, especially for a piano brand that was once one of America’s greatest piano makers.
Vose & Sons Brand Recognition
The Vose & Sons brand came from a pedigree of woodworkers in Boston, whose legacies came from prominent woodworking families in Europe. The Vose Company began in the 1850s under the tutelage of James Vose, who began work as a cabinet maker. Seeing that there were talented piano makers, Vose began to delve into making pianos, which by the end of the nineteenth century, Vose became a prominent piano maker in New England. In 1899, James Vose with his three sons established the iconic “Vose & Sons”.
By the 1920s, the company grew to a larger factory in the Boston area and had grown to make player and grand pianos. However, the Great Depression gave the company a hard time, so they decided to merge with the larger Aeolian-American Company, another prominent piano maker of the day. Aeolian kept the Vose & Sons brand alive throughout the twentieth century until Aeolian went out of business in the 1980s.
Historically as a brand, they were well-respected and can be seen as decent collectable pianos. Now, you can find a solid deal, but keep an eye for pianos that are just projects.
Factors that Affect a Piano’s Value
As we have mentioned, factors will affect the piano’s value whether it’s over one-hundred years old or just forty, as Vose & Sons went out of business with Aeolian. These factors include playability, physical condition of the finish, and tune.
Let’s start with playability. If the piano is unplayable, and by that, I mean that if the keys stick because of fatigue, no sound comes with certain keys, or is physically beaten, that can affect the value. If it’s below $1,000, I would consider the piano as a project or a lost cause. If you don’t want a project, then I would stay away from those project pianos.
Second, the finish is another value factor. While it isn’t related to how the piano sounds or plays, a worn out finish is a negotiable part to lower the asking price of a piano. Luckily, most reputable sellers have the piano’s finish already taken care of. However, if you’re looking at a Vose & Sons piano that is a private listing, keep the finish in mind.
Lastly, the tune is key. Does the piano play in tune is a question you must have when looking at not just a Vose & Sons, but any used piano out in the market today. If the piano isn’t in tune, that is not only a cost in your budget, but it can be another negotiable factor in the asking price. You’re gonna have to get a tuner to check out the piano regardless if it is in tune.
Determine What Vose & Sons Pianos Are Worth
To know the true or most accurate Vose & Sons piano value, it takes more than understanding that a spinet piano is the cheapest option and the grand piano is going to be the highest price for a piano. It’s talking with experts and having a little bit of common sense.
Remember, that in any steal that is suspiciously low, that deal of the century might not be there. An honest seller will tell you that the piano is unplayable and needs to be repaired by a tuner.
I would recommend talking to your local tuner and appraiser. Firstly, a tuner will know about different brands and models that Vose & Sons made in their heyday. They can highlight what is a solid deal and what isn’t. They can also tell you what are some of the flaws with a Vose & Sons, other than these pianos being visibly stunning for their age.
Similar to the tuner, the appraiser will know the market and tell you where a Vose & Sons grand piano will fall in the market. The key for the price is that a Vose & Sons will be cheaper than a Steinway of that vintage. Why is that? It’s because a more recognizable brand will command a higher price because there is a demand for that piano. It is not to say that a Vose & Sons isn’t a great piano, but rather, a great piano for the price.
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