Schoenhut will be featured at the Philadelphia History Museum!
From the Philadelphia History Museum website:
“Albert Schoenhut’s first success was the innovative Schoenhut Patent Metallic Toy Piano. It used steel bars that were arranged on a wooden frame like a xylophone. Before Albert’s patent, all toy pianos were imported from Germany and used glass rods to create the “piano” sound. Albert’s first job in Philadelphia was replacing the many glass rods that broke during shipping. The metal plates never broke and they never went out of tune. They played real notes when struck by small wooden hammers inside the frame. The first pianos came in three styles: the Grand, the Square, and the Upright. Over the years the styles changed on the outside, but the basic interior design remained the same.
So why a piano? In 1872, when Albert started production, pianos were becoming America’s most popular musical instrument. Almost every girl and many boys took piano lessons. By 1900, over one million American households had a piano.
Schoenhut’s pianos came with their own sheet music simplified for children, who could quickly learn to play versions of popular songs and tunes. Since the keys are spaced similarly to a standard piano, little musicians were preparing to transition to a full-sized instrument.
By the 1930s, over 40 versions were being produced, with prices ranging from 50¢ for a tabletop version, to $30 for a large-scale model. Schoenhut pianos remain popular today. Len and Renee Trinca continue the standard of excellence through a line of pianos, educational, and musical instruments now manufactured in St. Augustine, Florida.”
If you are in Philadelphia, check out Schoenhut’s donation and experiment with the popular toy piano!