The Evolution of the Piano postcard above is circa 1910/1911. It advertises R. K. Maynard Piano Company of Chicago pianos and player pianos with "Quality High" and "Price Low." To me, the message is "Buy one of our pianos and your home will look as cultured and elegant as the one in this picture." There appears to be quite a bit of artistic license involved. Why would the woman (whether mother or teacher) be wearing a dress with a train? What time of the day is it? I would expect a child's lesson to be in the afternoon, when the "father" in the background would be at work making money to support this lifestyle. I wondered, also, whether the picture above the piano was meant to represent a specific type of instrument and/or famous composer.
Chicago became a major player in piano manufacturing during the 19th century. Little is known now about the Maynard Piano Company. It appears on a list of Piano Manufacturers in Illinois with a date of 1905. A 1910 ad from the The Music Trade Review gives locations for both offices and factory. From what I could find on the internet, however, it was not clear whether Maynard was actually a manufacturer. One source said that "Popular pianos bearing this name are from the factory of the Werner Piano Co., Chicago, Ill." Another source said that "The hugely successful M. Schulz Piano Company manufactured and sold pianos under the names of Walworth, Bradford, Irving, and Maynard in addition to their premier line of M. Schulz brand pianos."
The real photo postcard below shows a woman sitting at a piano in a more modest looking environment. There is no information available on this postcard. The piano top was a popular place to display pictures. I enlarged the area with the pictures to show their details and variety..
The video on the Evolution of the Piano shows some of the early instruments that preceded the modern acoustic piano and ends with Kurzweil digital pianos.
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