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Upright Pianos

The first known upright piano was built in 1739 by Domenico del Mela of Gagliano, Italy. It looked like a grand piano with the soundboard tipped up toward the ceiling. Shortly after, in the 1740s, Christian Ernst Frederici of Germany began making upright pyramid pianos, which had a pyramid shape and a flat top. Piano makers experimented with other upright piano forms before returning to the pyramid shape in the early 1800s.

The cabinet piano, a very tall version of the modern upright, was introduced about 1805. This style of piano encased the strings in a tall cabinet that rose from the keyboard almost to the ceiling. Cabinet pianos were built until the 1840s when shorter cottage pianos became popular. The cottage piano was the style used for upright pianos throughout the Victorian era and into the 20th century. Beginning in the '30s, the small console style piano became popular and is the predominant style of personal home piano to this day.

Vintage upright pianos can be classified into grades depending on the quality of materials and the style of the instrument. A grade one piano is typically a plain upright while a grade five may be an artistic case piano that is entirely handmade. Any piano made prior to 1915 can be considered an antique.


Quick Facts

  • The lyre upright piano was a piano style produced by German piano makers in the first part of the 19th century. The upright portion of the piano was shaped like a lyre
  • A player piano is an upright piano with an automatic mechanism that plays slotted music rolls. Antique player pianos in excellent condition are usually valued between $15,000 and $30,000
  • The upright piano played by Sam in the movie "Casablanca," manufactured by Richardson's Inc., was sold by Sotheby's in 2012 for $602,500

Recommended Items at Auction

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(45+) Vintage Player Piano Rolls, Apollo, Majestic
Dec 03, 10:00 AM MST
(45+) Vintage Player Piano Rolls, Apollo, Majestic
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$406 Bids
(50) Vintage Player Piano Rolls, Duo-art
Dec 03, 10:00 AM MST
(50) Vintage Player Piano Rolls, Duo-art
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$505 Bids
(60+) Vintage Player Piano Rolls, Ampico
Dec 03, 10:00 AM MST
(60+) Vintage Player Piano Rolls, Ampico
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$654 Bids
(50) Vintage Player Piano Rolls, Duo-art
Dec 03, 10:00 AM MST
(50) Vintage Player Piano Rolls, Duo-art
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$453 Bids
(50) Vintage Player Piano Rolls, Duo-art
Dec 03, 10:00 AM MST
(50) Vintage Player Piano Rolls, Duo-art
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$453 Bids
(50+) Vintage Piano Rolls, Duo-art, Qrs
Dec 03, 10:00 AM MST
(50+) Vintage Piano Rolls, Duo-art, Qrs
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$453 Bids
(50+) Vintage Player Piano Rolls, Duo-art
Dec 03, 10:00 AM MST
(50+) Vintage Player Piano Rolls, Duo-art
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$452 Bids
(50) Vintage Player Piano Rolls, Duo-art
Dec 03, 10:00 AM MST
(50) Vintage Player Piano Rolls, Duo-art
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$352 Bids
Eighteen Antique Piano Rolls with Boxes
Dec 07, 6:00 PM EST
Eighteen Antique Piano Rolls with Boxes
by Homestead Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$30 Bids
Piano E. Krauss, Stuttgart, Art Nouveau around 1890
Dec 03, 10:00 AM CET
Piano E. Krauss, Stuttgart, Art Nouveau around 1890
by Auktionshaus Wersching
Est: €0- €0
€7000 Bids
Selbstspielendes Klavier
Dec 01, 11:00 AM CET
Selbstspielendes Klavier
by Dusseldorfer Auktionshaus
Est: €0- €0
€1500 Bids
REUGE, Polyphone 'Piano à queue'
Dec 06, 2:00 PM CET
REUGE, Polyphone 'Piano à queue'
by Dogny Auction
Est: CHF600- CHF800
CHF6000 Bids
REUGE, Polyphone 'Piano'
Dec 06, 2:00 PM CET
REUGE, Polyphone 'Piano'
by Dogny Auction
Est: CHF600- CHF800
CHF6000 Bids
Everett Piano Co. Art Deco Upright Piano, c. 1941
Dec 11, 11:00 AM EST
Everett Piano Co. Art Deco Upright Piano, c. 1941
by Auctions at Showplace
Est: $300- $500
$1000 Bids
Piano, Clementi & Co, London, 19th century
Dec 13, 5:00 PM CET
Piano, Clementi & Co, London, 19th century
by Ansorena
Est: €1,050- €1,400
€7000 Bids
Y A GEORGE I WALNUT BENTSIDE SPINET, ATTRIBUTED TO THOMAS BARTON, BISHOPSGATE, LONDON, CIRCA 1724
Dec 01, 10:30 AM GMT
Y A GEORGE I WALNUT BENTSIDE SPINET, ATTRIBUTED TO THOMAS BARTON, BISHOPSGATE, LONDON, CIRCA 1724
by Dreweatts 1759 Fine Sales
Est: £8,000- £12,000
£7,0000 Bids
Klavier von Gebr. Beckershoff in Düsseldorf
Dec 01, 11:00 AM CET
Klavier von Gebr. Beckershoff in Düsseldorf
by Dusseldorfer Auktionshaus
Est: €0- €0
€100 Bids
STORY AND CLARK SPINET STYLE PIANO
Dec 03, 10:00 AM EST
STORY AND CLARK SPINET STYLE PIANO
by Lakelands Auction Service
Est: $0- $0
$50 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Upright Pianos


EJ'S Auction & Appraisal

EJ'S Auction & Appraisal

Dusseldorfer Auktionshaus

Dusseldorfer Auktionshaus

Dogny Auction

Dogny Auction

Ansorena

Ansorena