Steinway “A” 6’ Grand, 1886 (style 1)
Donated September 2021 by Mark Whitely of Palo Alto, CA
Original Condition - First Steinway Style to Receive All the Modern Design Elements of the “Mature” Steinway Grand
In 1878 Steinway and Sons established the elements of design which continue, to this day, to define the Steinway piano, and for better or worse, most pianos built in the 20th century. It also introduced its first 6’ piano (the shortest piano to date was 6’8”). It was called the Style 1, in the taking that designation from the 6’8”. But the company also adopted letters, a way of honoring their new integrated designs throughout the entire line. So the “A” introduced the new letter naming system, and for the first time, Steinway used their style or model names to refer to specific scales. The company successfully retained those names (A, B, C and D) until the present day, later adding shorter grands (O, M, L, and S). The shared elements identifying these new scales include: The new continuous rim (a pressed, laminated rim was introduced, ending all jointed corners in bass and treble); the duplex scale with a recently introduced capo termination bar, the cupola plate (raised perimeter), and the converging posts and plate shoe (“self-compression”). By this time all Steinways were using their 1869 tubular metallic action, pilot capstans on the keys (1875), as well as the Erard/Herz action with the 99mm spread (ca. 1864).
The “A” was their first execution of all these design elements.