How old is my Bechstein?

Bechstein pianos are built to last. Each of them is cherished, belongs to a family and is handed down from one generation to the next. Nonetheless, its personal history may get lost. Some instruments have entertained prominent figures, stood in palaces or even belonged to famous musicians; others have traveled the world or even survived wars unscathed. Thanks to their top-quality design and materials, Bechstein grand pianos are virtually indestructible.

All the instruments we produce have their own identity: the “large serial number” usually inscribed on the cast-iron frame and recorded in our production books along with the date of delivery and the name of the first owner. Apart from a few missing pages that were destroyed during the war, this tradition can be traced back to 1853. Upon request, we can send you your piano’s archive data, but bear in mind that we are unable to accept any liability for such archival information.

 

Where can I find the serial number?

The black figures of the serial number are usually visible on the cast iron frame, next to the tuning pins. In early C. Bechstein instruments, however, big figures are printed on the soundboard, next to the brand’s logo, sometimes concealed behind the strings or dampers.

In older pianos, the serial number might be located on the inner face of the case, next to the action assembly.

If you’re unable to locate the serial number or if the authenticity of the number you find is questionable, the genuine serial number may have been removed or falsified by a previous owner. If your doubts regarding the authenticity or completeness of the number prove founded, there is no way to determine the year the piano was manufactured. In this instance, your only option is to have an expert estimate the instrument’s age.

Unfortunately, any other numbers on the back of the soundboard or other points on the instrument won’t shed any light on the year of manufacture as they are merely internal production numbers and will not have been recorded. Photographs won’t be of any help, either.

 

Determining your instrument’s age

If you know the serial number and just want to know the age of your C. Bechstein, Bechstein, W.Hoffmann or Zimmermann piano, simply click on one of the links below.

C. Bechstein and Bechstein
C. Bechstein and Bechstein
W.Hoffmann
W.Hoffmann
Zimmermann
Zimmermann

C. Bechstein and Bechstein archive

People who want to know the history of their pianos contact our archive service virtually on a daily basis. It takes time and effort to sift through the wealth of documentation and decipher the entries written in old German handwriting (Suetterlin script).

The original buyer of every piano, which might also have been an authorized dealer, is recorded in our archives but sometimes, the books indicate only the delivery address. Moreover, the depth of information also depends on the condition of the books in our archives.

C. Bechstein and Bechstein’s archive service carries a fee of EUR 26 – regardless of the search result. If you’re interested, feel free to get in touch with us via email to the following address: info@bechstein.de. We don’t offer this service for the W.Hoffmann and Zimmermann brands.

 

Valuation

The age of your instrument alone won’t tell you much about its actual value. As upright and grand pianos are highly complex instruments, valuation is not possible using photos or a written description but requires inspection by a specialist to determine the condition of the various parts and assemblies. Please note that a valuation comes at a fee.

Don’t hesitate to contact an authorized dealer or C. Bechstein headquarters in Berlin if you wish a valuation.

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