Stencil pianos – what are you actually getting?

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This is a great example of what is known as a “stencil” piano. The name “Brahms” appears on the front of the piano, but in fact the plate (visible in the background) is stamped with Winter & Company, the actual manufacturer of the piano.

I couldn’t find any background information on this particular customer’s piano, but it was very common in the mid-1900’s for piano stores, dealers, and others to have a run of pianos manufactured by an established company with the dealer’s name stamped on the front. Winter & Co. was one of the larger piano manufacturers in the 1940’s, when this piano was built, and had arrangements like this with dozens of companies over the years.

If you own a piano with a name on the front that is unfamiliar and hard to find any information on, one possible explanation is that it’s a stencil. They are not necessarily inferior pianos; it just depends, of course, on the company that actually manufactured it. A quick search inside the piano might provide some insight!