Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Guide to the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana Subject Categories: Pianos

Collection ID:
Warshaw, Isadore, 1900-1969
Physical Description:
4.59 Cubic feet
consisting of 8 boxes, 2 half boxes, 5 folders, 7 oversize folders, 2 map case folders, 2 flat boxes (partial), plus digital images of some collection material.
A New York bookseller, Warshaw assembled this collection over nearly fifty years. The Warshaw Collection of Business Americana: Pianos forms part of the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, Subseries 1.1: Subject Categories. The Subject Categories subseries is divided into 470 subject categories based on those created by Mr. Warshaw. These subject categories include topical subjects, types or forms of material, people, organizations, historical events, and other categories. An overview to the entire Warshaw collection is available here: Warshaw Collection of Business Americana

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
This collection consists primarily of advertising cards, business cards, bookmarks, printed advertisements, scattered correspondence on letterhead stationery, pamphlets, bills/receipts, trade catalogs, fans, photographs, patents, song books, articles and books from manufacturers and distributors of pianos and piano parts. There is a substantial amount of materials for each company especially for the bigger and better known piano manufacturers. A number of these companies also sold organs. Among the materials there is a small number of programs, hymn books and music books.
A large amount of the materials are images. Most of the images are of pianos and organs found primarily in the trade catalogues and on printed advertisements. The images on the printed advertisements are similar to those in the trade catalogues and include the same information such as dimensions of the piano, style name, price, type of wood frame, and attractive features. The piano is shown as a focal point of family life. Pianos are considered as important furnishings for the home. Manufacturers advertised pianos as companions and the source of inspiration, pleasure and entertainment. Images depicting women and family life are also particularly strong in this collection.
There are a number of publications which discuss the history of piano manufacturing companies. These publications are included with the company related materials. Other publications include primers, early American hymn books, instructions on how to play piano and old favorite songs.
The material is organized alphabetically by name of company. There are seven folders of material grouped by type: business cards, patents, shipping documents, clubs, schools, general images and shipping documents.

Vanessa Broussard-Simmons and Nicole Blechynden
Funding for partial processing of the collection was supported by a grant from the Smithsonian Institution's Collections Care and Preservation Fund (CCPF).
Immediate Source of Acquisition note
Pianos is a portion of the Business Ephemera Series of the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, Accession AC0060 purchased from Isadore Warshaw in 1967. Warshaw continued to accumulate similar material until his death, which was donated in 1971 by his widow, Augusta. For a period after acquisition, related materials from other sources (of mixed provenance) were added to the collection so there may be content produced or published after Warshaw's death in 1969. This practice has since ceased.
Processing Information
In 2016, with funding provided by the Smithsonian Institution's Collections Care and Preservation Fund, the Archives Center at the National Museum of American History implemented the use of minimal level processing standards to increase information about and facilitate access to more of our collections. A large portion of stored material from the original acquisition received minimal level processing, which resulted in additions to this Subject category. This effort included basic arrangement and replacement of non-archival housing for long-term stability, but staples and other fasteners have not all been removed. Revisions to the encoded finding aid were made to reflect the added content in context to the previously processed material.
Minimal level processing and enhancement of the machine-readable finding aid completed by Nicole Blechynden, September 2017.

Digital Content
More …
Using the Collection
Preferred Citation note
Warshaw Collection of Business Americana Subject Categories: Pianos, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
Conditions Governing Access note
Collection is open for research. Some items may be restricted due to fragile condition.
Conditions Governing Use note
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.

Materials in the Archives Center
Materials in the Archives Center
Archives Center Collection of Business Americana (AC0404)

Forms Part Of

Related Materials
Researchers interested in other collections in the Archives Center that relate to the manufacture of pianos and piano parts should consult the following collections:
Sohmer & Company Records, 1872-1989, Collection #349
Steinway Piano Company Collection, 1850-1906; 1953, Collection #178
Pratt-Read Corporation Records, 1839-1990, Collection #320
Chickering & Sons, 1823-1985, Collection #264
Wood & Brooks Company Records, ca. 1900-1960, Collection #457
Wurlitzer Company Records, 1864-1984, Collection #469
William Lenz Piano Tuning Collection, Collection #511

More Information
Brand Name Index
Brand Name Index
Brand Name :: Company Name :: Type of Product
  • Beckwith :: Sears Roebuck & Co. :: Piano
  • Bijou :: Calenberg & Vaupel :: Piano
  • Bradbury :: F. G. Smith & Co. :: Piano
  • Capen :: Brockport Piano Mfg. Co. :: Piano
  • Conover :: Cable Co. :: Piano
  • Crown :: Geo. P. Bent Mfg. Co. :: Piano
  • Kingsbury :: Cable Co. :: Piano
  • Orchestrella :: Aeolian Company :: Piano
  • Pianola :: Aeolian Company :: Piano
  • Separable :: Calenberg & Vaupel :: Piano
  • Weber Pianola :: Aeolian Company :: Piano
  • Wellington :: Calenberg & Vaupel :: Piano

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Ephemera Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Business ephemera Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
pianos Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Piano makers Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012