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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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Kasimoff Piano Co Neupert Harpsichord
Oct 30, 10:00 AM MST
Kasimoff Piano Co Neupert Harpsichord
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
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Vintage Jaymar Childs Piano
Oct 29, 5:00 PM EDT
Vintage Jaymar Childs Piano
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Est: $10- $1,000
$51 Bid
"Hupfeld Phonola" Piano Player, c. 1905
Nov 06, 10:00 AM CET
"Hupfeld Phonola" Piano Player, c. 1905
by Auction Team Breker
Est: €300- €500
€1200 Bids
Hupfeld Clavitist Orchestra Model III, 1915
Nov 06, 10:00 AM CET
Hupfeld Clavitist Orchestra Model III, 1915
by Auction Team Breker
Est: €2,000- €3,000
€9000 Bids
Steen Nielsen Mid Century Modern Rosewood Piano
Nov 11, 9:00 AM EST
Steen Nielsen Mid Century Modern Rosewood Piano
by Brunk Auctions
Est: $800- $1,200
$4000 Bids
Pianorgan I
Nov 06, 10:00 AM EDT
Pianorgan I
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Est: $0- $0
$100 Bids
CLERGEAU, PARIS Orgue transpositeur
Nov 02, 2:30 PM CET
CLERGEAU, PARIS Orgue transpositeur
by Accademia Fine Art
Est: €100- €200
€1000 Bids
DALE FORTY, LONDON Petit piano de salon
Nov 03, 2:30 PM CET
DALE FORTY, LONDON Petit piano de salon
by Accademia Fine Art
Est: €100- €200
€1000 Bids
PICCOLO CENTROTAVOLA ELLITTICO IN BRONZO DORATO
Nov 06, 11:00 AM CET
PICCOLO CENTROTAVOLA ELLITTICO IN BRONZO DORATO
by Pierre Bergé & Associés
Est: €500- €700
€5000 Bids
Wittmayer Mid Century Fruitwood Harpsichord
Nov 11, 9:00 AM EST
Wittmayer Mid Century Fruitwood Harpsichord
by Brunk Auctions
Est: $300- $500
$1500 Bids
Western Electric Piano Co. Nickelodeon
Nov 06, 12:00 PM EDT
Western Electric Piano Co. Nickelodeon
by Cottone Auctions
Est: $500- $800
$2500 Bids
James McNeil Whistler Plaque, 1905
Nov 04, 12:00 PM EDT
James McNeil Whistler Plaque, 1905
by Alex Cooper
Est: $450- $600
$2250 Bids
SCRITTOIO lastricato in palissandro con piano in pelle di gusto Luigi XV, ma realizzato nel XIX secolo. Cm 76,5x110x60.
Nov 05, 10:00 AM CET
SCRITTOIO lastricato in palissandro con piano in pelle di gusto Luigi XV, ma realizzato nel XIX secolo. Cm 76,5x110x60.
by Art International Auction House
Est: €400- €800
€3400 Bids
Zamy Steynovitz (1951-2000) "Woman Playing Piano HS" Framed Lithograph
Nov 16, 12:00 PM EST
Zamy Steynovitz (1951-2000) "Woman Playing Piano HS" Framed Lithograph
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Est: $20- $200
$200 Bids
Piano biscuit group
Nov 03, 6:00 PM CET
Piano biscuit group
by Ansorena
Est: €150- €200
€1000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Upright Pianos


Brunk Auctions

Brunk Auctions

Auction Team Breker

Auction Team Breker

Accademia Fine Art

Accademia Fine Art

Alex Cooper

Alex Cooper