My poor old piano: what do I do?
My piano has been ruined and I don’t know what to do about it.
I can honestly say my piano has – by quite a long margin – given me more hours of pleasure than any else I own.
I’m no great player. I’m a thumper who settles for “good enough”, but I practice almost every day, sometimes several times a day. I have a lasting fondness for ragtime: I can struggle through a fair few Scott Joplin classics (so long as you don’t mind a fair few missed chords and fumbled melodies).
Anyway, meet my piano.
Nice, isn’t it? It was my dad’s and now it’s mine. It is the one I learned on from the age of six. I love it.
So I was excited when I sent it for a full French polish and restoration – the first of its life I think.
And utterly dismayed when it was returned to me. I opened the lid, and the gold-stencilled lettering on the inside of the lid had been completely removed.
In the centre had been the name of the manufacturer: in large capitals, EAVESTAFF. And bottom right, the (now defunct) dealer who had sold it: Alderson & Brentnall, Newcastle upon Tyne.
All gone, and with it a big chunk of the piano’s historic charm.
Furious and upset barely covers it. The French polisher was evasive, and claimed I should have told him that I wanted to retain the original lettering.
As if anyone would want to remove it!
Eavestaff, incidentally, is not a brand like Steinway or Bechstein. It is the Vauxhall Cavalier of the piano world. It is my good fortune that mine, which was made between 1890-1900, is an excellent example: it can go literally years between being tuned. (It is about five years since it was last tuned, and it has been moved several times: it still sounds only slightly off.)
I’m at a loss what to do. Sue the restorers? Is it worth it? Seek out a professional stenciller to replace it? Again, is it worth it – and do such people exist?
Or just live with the disappointment that, every time I sit down to play, I will be reminded that a thoughtless chump of a French polisher spoilt my most favourite thing in the world?
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