French Family Association

The Official Website of the Surname French

Famous Frenches

Jesse French & Sons Piano Company

Nashville, TN; St. Louis, MO; New Castle, IN
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Last updated by Mara French on 8/15/12. Send corrections or additions to Mara French.

Contents

FFA Home Page

Ancestry of Jesse French

Blue Book of Pianos

Pianos and Their Makers: Development of the Piano Industry in America

Jesse French Piano Company, Nashville, TN

Piano Rags, Jesse French, and Their Relationship to the Starr Piano Company

Jesse French Piano Company Affiliations

Albert Krell, Jr.

Jesse French & Sons

P. A. Starck

Ragtime, 1897-1917

James M. Starr

O. K. Houck

Jesse French Sheet Music

Jesse French Piano Belonging to Mara French

What Date Is Your Jesse French Piano?

How Much is Your Jesse French Piano Worth?

Owners of Jesse French Pianos

Jesse French Piano Company, Nashville, TN

Jesse French & Sons Piano, Serial #60714, dated 1915.

“Mr. Jesse French, the president of the company, started in the music business in 1872, branching out into the piano business in 1875, and has been continuously connected with the industry ever since. Mr. French was the founder of one, and intimately associated with others of the best known and most successful factories and distributing companies in the United States. It has always been the aim of the company to make the Jesse French & Sons instruments the very best that they could produce, regardless of expense. The Jesse French & Sons' piano is an artistic production, the culmination of years of experience in the music trade.”

“They are made in grands, uprights, foot-power and electric players and reproducing pianos in great varieties of size and styles, and in all of the fancy woods. Every part of the instrument, with the exception of the hardware, is produced in the mammoth factory in New Castle, Ind., erected especially for the purpose and equipped with the idea of securing the best possible results in every department in every way connected with the production of Jesse French & Sons pianos. For in them, the question of quality is paramount and the desire to excel a very potent force. Two expressive mottos are well known in this connection, viz.: ‘Quality First and First Quality’ and ‘A Name well-known Since 1875'.”

In January 1955, the P.A. Starck Co. of Chicago purchased the company and it continues to make their pianos, utilizing more modern features. An example of a Jesse French/Selmer upright piano of the 1940s is shown below.

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Piano Rags, Jesse French, and Their Relationship to the Starr Piano Company

Abstracted from an article by David Joyner, Ph.D., of Pacific Lutheran University. From the Starr-Gennett Foundation Website: http://www.starrgennett.org/stories/articles/jesse_french.htm

The Jesse French Piano and Organ Company was headquartered in St. Louis and Nashville with stores throughout the South and Midwest, making it the largest music retailer network outside of New York and the Northeast. To further his own business, French involved himself indirectly with the publication of key Mississippi Valley ragtime composers. Ragtime historians have long stressed the important link between the sale of ragtime sheet music and the sale of pianos, both reaching their peak during the ragtime era (c. 1897-1917).

French was also an important family and business member of the Starr and Gennett piano and recording enterprise. The music industry dynasty of Jesse French and his connection with Starr and Gennett begins with his father-in-law John Lumsden. Lumsden was born in Southhampton, England in 1824, and moved to America in 1842. He married in 1848 and thereafter had three daughters. Callie married Jesse French in 1872, Maria married Oscar Addison Field in 1882, and Alice married Henry Gennett in 1875. The men these three daughters married are the principal figures in the development of the French empire, which came to include Starr and Gennett.

French started his company in Nashville and was soon successful. In 1883, he entered business in St. Louis with his brother-in-law, Oscar Addison Field, first as Field, French, and Company, then as the Field-French Piano Company. Field was born in New York State in 1847, entered the piano business in Nashville in 1875 (probably with French), married John Lumsden's daughter Maria in 1882, and moved to St. Louis in 1883. Under the leadership of Field, French, and Lumsden, the Field-French Piano Company was incorporated in 1887 as The Jesse French Piano and Organ Company of St. Louis. Lumsden, who had been in partnership with French and Field separately and collectively, also moved to St. Louis in 1888.

By the time of its incorporation, The Jesse French Piano and Organ Company was a gigantic retailer of pianos and organs. Based in Nashville, it had branches in Memphis, Little Rock, St. Louis, Dallas, Birmingham, and Montgomery, with a force of one hundred traveling salesmen. The company had grown large enough that it decided to manufacture its own line of pianos. To this end, it turned its interests to the Starr Piano Company of Richmond, Indiana.

In 1872, James Starr (1824-1900) teamed up with Richard Jackson and George Trayser to produce pianos in Richmond. Trayser had founded the first piano factory west of the Allegheny Mountains in Indianapolis in 1849. In 1884, the Richmond firm became James M. Starr and Company. Around the same time, the company moved operations to a water-powered factory in the Whitewater River Valley Gorge. In 1893, the controlling interest of the company went to Field, French, and the stockholders of the Jesse French Piano and Organ Company. Merger negotiations had begun in 1892 and were completed on April 7, 1893, when the new Starr Piano Company was organized. The quality pianos produced by this merger were nationally recognized the same year at the Chicago Columbian Exposition, the event that helped introduce ragtime to the world. The Starr Piano Company produced numerous lines of pianos under these names: Starr, Jesse French, Cumberland, Duchess, Gennett, Minum, Trayser, Royal, Pullman, Remington, Coronado, and Richmond pianos.

John Lumsden had involved himself with the Starr Company long before Jesse French did, and it was probably he who brought Starr and French together. Upon Starr Piano's incorporation in 1893, Lumsden's third son-in-law, Henry Gennett, entered the picture. Henry married Lumsden's daughter Alice and moved with his father-in-law to Richmond, Indiana. When the Starr and French companies merged, Benjamin Starr became president with Gennett and Lumsden as secretary and treasurer. By 1900, the factory was turning out 6,000 pianos per year.

After the death of Lumsden in 1898 and Starr in 1903, Gennett took over as president of the Starr Piano Company with his three sons acting as officers. They manufactured pianos in 52 styles and had sales rooms in twenty-four cities. In 1902, Field and Gennett bought out their brother-in-law's stock in the Jesse French Piano and Organ Company, including the Starr Piano Company. Starr remained in business until 1952.

It can be fairly said that the French evolution succeeded while ragtime was king. As noted at the outset, Jesse French knew that sheet music and piano sales were interdependent; the former helped move the latter. Consequently, he encouraged the production of piano rags because they were becoming wildly popular with the younger generation. Ragtime was truly the rock and roll of its day. Through the French connection, Starr and Gennett were strongly linked to one of the most defining American popular music styles of all time. That Gennett Records would also play to emerging markets may have been the result of a Starr business strategy inherited from Jesse French.

5th Avenue between Church Street and Union Avenue in Nashville, TN, shows the Jesse French Piano Company and the Camp Sewing Machine Company. Photo dated ca. 1900.

Union Street from 5th Avenue in Nashville, TN, view to the east, showing the D. Loveman Co., Jesse French Piano and Organ Store, and Clifton Coal. The Cole Building is located on the corner of 4th Avenue. Photo dated ca. 1879.

"Charles H. Hunter of Nashville, Tennessee, is a white pioneer of rag- time whose life, by contrast with the lives of Charles Johnson and his worldly and successful [white] group, reads like that of a Negro composer. The short span of his years in some ways parallels the brief story of Louis Chauvin. One cannot say that in 1878 at Columbia Tennessee, Charles H. Hunter saw the light of day, for he was born almost totally blind. Hunter was a red-haired, freckled youth, muscular, and of medium height when he left the School for the Blind and went to work for the Jesse French Piano Company in Nashville at the piano tuner's trade which he had learned in school. Amoung the pianos he was free to learn an art, too, that of the self-taught pianist. There was no classical training, no technique of roulades and trills or intricate fingering to stand between the blind, good-natured, but keenly sensitive boy and the folk music that filled the streets of Nashville and the small hill farms that surrounded it.

Another good book about the piano and family connections between French, Starr, Lumsden, and Gennett is “A Music Dynasty in Victorian Indiana -- Jelly Roll, Box, and Hoagy” by Rick Kennedy which can be found on Google books in its entirety. It tells a lot about the character and interactions between these 4 families. Part of it follows:

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Jesse French Piano Company Affiliations

Jesse French & Sons Piano Company was established in 1875 in Rochester, NY. The company was once a division of the

P.A. Starck Piano Company, 2160 N. Ashland, Chicago, IL and
Dorman French & Smith Pianos.
It was also affiliated with affiliations following:
Krell-French (1896-1905)
H. A. Selmer (1941)
Ackerman & Lowe
Continental
Frenchetts
Jefferson
Lagonda
Browning
James M. Starr
O. K. Houck
J. Neal Irwin, in Rochester, NY

In 1941, H. A. Selmer, Inc. entered the piano market, purchasing the Jesse French Company of New Castle, Indiana and built pianos from 1902 to 1952. The division was closed in 1954 to concentrate on band instruments. Jesse French and Sons were amongst the better makers of domestic pianos. Much later the piano company was owned by J. Neal Irwin, 6 Greenvale Dr., Rochester, N.Y.

First pianos were made in Nashville, TN, under the name of Dorman French & Smith, later New Castle Indiana, formerly a division of H.A. Selmer, also affiliated with Krell French. Since 1875 the name Jesse French have stood for everything high grade in the music line. Many thousands of pianos' bearing the name Jesse French have been marketed in past years, but now these instruments bear the name of Jesse French & Sons. They are manufactured by the Jesse French & Sons Piano Co., New Castle. Ind.

The Thiebes-Stierlin Music Company Building where Jesse French had his piano company at 1006 Olive St., St. Louis, MO, is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was designed by Theodore Link and built in 1905.

Albert Krell, Jr.

In 1896 Albert Krell Jr. joined Jesse French to form the Krell-French Piano Company at Springfield, Ohio, then moved to New Castle, Indiana and became the Jesse French Company. In 1905 Albert Krell Jr. left Krell-French to begin the Auto Grand Piano Company of America at Connersville, Indiana.

Krell-French Piano Company, New Castle, Indiana, pre-1905

The article below is from the Music Trade Review of 19 Dec 1903.

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A Jesse French Booklet from the Music Trade Review of 3 Nov 1900

A piano booklet, exceedingly well written and admirably illustrated, has reached us from the Jesse French Piano & Organ Co., of St. Louis, Mo. Its pages are devoted to a treatise on the construction of the Jesse French piano, of which illustrations of style B, style T and style Y in uprights appear. The keynote of this little book is "quality" and the aim is to show that values and quality are embodied in these instruments. With nearly a half century of successful business to their credit, the Jesse French Co. occupy to-day a leading place in the industry and the products which the 7 handle are widely esteemed. This book should do much to concentrate further attention along these lines.

Jesse French & Sons

This artistic piano is the finest product of the great factory of the Jesse French & Sons Piano Co. at New Castle. Ind. It is a strictly high-grade artistic instrument, notable not only for its fine musical qualities but also for its remarkably beautiful case designs. These instruments have attained to a place of distinction in the world of music. Many great pianists and teachers having expressed for them their preference. A number of leading music schools also have signified their approval of the Jesse French & Sons' pianos by having them installed in their institutions.

The Jesse French & Sons' grand pianos appeal equally to the artistic musicians and the owners of fine homes. One of the recent additions to the list is a parlor grand, which affords a fine example of great tone in small case, and it has won especial favor. This grand is also supplied with reproducing player actions. The uprights may be had with electric expression actions both with and without foot pedals. The name of French is one so long associated with pianos and music that it has literally become a household word. Within the last year much skill and expense have been invested in new scales, improved methods of construction and new designs.

There has also been introduced a novel feature, known as the Dulcet Tone, which opens a wide field of possibilities in tone coloring and shading. The Dulcet Tone brings into operation an especially arranged set of dampers and mutes in such manner as to give sweet one string effects of peculiarly sympathetic quality.

Mr. Jesse French, the president of the company, started in the music business in 1872, branching out into the piano business in 1875, and has been continuously connected with the industry ever since. Mr. French was the founder of one and intimately associated with others of the best, known and most successful factories and distributing companies in the United States. It has always been the aim of the company to make the Jesse French & Sons instruments the very best that they could produce, regardless of expense.

The Jesse French & Sons' piano is an artistic production, the culmination of years of experience in the music trade. They are made in grands, uprights, foot-power and electric players and reproducing pianos in great varieties of size and styles, and in all of the fancy woods. Every part of the instrument, with the exception of the hardware, is produced in the mammoth factory in New Castle. Ind., erected especially for the purpose and equipped with the idea of securing the best possible results in every department in any way connected with the production of Jesse French & Sons pianos. For in them the question of quality is paramount and the desire to excel a very potent force, two expressive mottos being well known in this connection, viz.: "Quality First and First Quality" and "A Name well-known Since 1875."

P. A. Starck

In January 1955, the P. A. Starck Piano Co. of Chicago purchased the Jesse French & Sons trade position. In the modern Starck factory, master craftsmen utilize materials and equipment to produce Jesse French pianos of beauty and lasting musical quality for the intimacy of the American home; the exactitude of the studio and the hard usage of the school. The Jesse French models are exclusive designs based on present day trends in home furnishings. Jesse French pianos are scientifically balanced in every detail, and are nationally known as instruments of the highest quality. Many satisfied purchasers recommend Jesse French pianos to their friends. It is not unusual for the second and third generations of families to purchase a Jesse French piano. Each Jesse French piano is equipped with the new Ori-Coustic High Tension Scale. This scale has been acclaimed by experts as one of the finest piano scales available, regardless of price.

Ragtime, 1897-1917

The Jesse French Piano and Organ Company was headquartered in St. Louis and Nashville with stores throughout the South and Midwest, making it the largest music retailer network outside of New York and the Northeast. To further his own business, French involved himself indirectly with the publication of key Mississippi Valley ragtime composers. Ragtime historians have long stressed the important link between the sale of ragtime sheet music and the sale of pianos, both reaching their peak during the ragtime era (c. 1897-1917).

It can be fairly said that the French evolution succeeded while ragtime was king. As noted at the outset, Jesse French knew that sheet music and piano sales were interdependent; the former helped move the latter. Consequently, he encouraged the production of piano rags because they were becoming wildly popular with the younger generation. Ragtime was truly the rock and roll of its day. Through the French connection, Starr and Gennett were strongly linked to one of the most defining American popular music styles of all time. That Gennett Records would also play to emerging markets may have been the result of a Starr business strategy inherited from Jesse French.

James M. Starr

By the time of its incorporation, The Jesse French Piano and Organ Company was a gigantic retailer of pianos and organs. Based in Nashville, it had branches in Memphis, Little Rock, St. Louis, Dallas, Birmingham, and Montgomery, with a force of one hundred traveling salesmen. The company had grown large enough that it decided to manufacture its own line of pianos. To this end, it turned its interests to the Starr Piano Company of Richmond, Indiana.

In 1872, James Starr (1824-1900) teamed up with Richard Jackson and George Trayser to produce pianos in Richmond. Trayser had founded the first piano factory west of the Allegheny Mountains in Indianapolis in 1849. In 1884, the Richmond firm became James M. Starr and Company. Around the same time, the company moved operations to a water-powered factory in the Whitewater River Valley Gorge. In 1893, the controlling interest of the company went to Field, French, and the stockholders of the Jesse French Piano and Organ Company. Merger negotiations had begun in 1892 and were completed on April 7, 1893, when the new Starr Piano Company was organized. The quality pianos produced by this merger were nationally recognized the same year at the Chicago Columbian Exposition, the event that helped introduce ragtime to the world. The Starr Piano Company produced numerous lines of pianos under these names: Starr, Jesse French, Cumberland, Duchess, Gennett, Minum, Trayser, Royal, Pullman, Remington, Coronado, and Richmond pianos.

John Lumsden had involved himself with the Starr Company long before Jesse French did, and it was probably he who brought Starr and French together. Upon Starr Piano's incorporation in 1893, Lumsden's third son-in-law, Henry Gennett, entered the picture. Henry married Lumsden's daughter Alice and moved with his father-in-law to Richmond, Indiana. When the Starr and French companies merged, Benjamin Starr became president with Gennett and Lumsden as secretary and treasurer. By 1900, the factory was turning out 6,000 pianos per year.

After the death of Lumsden in 1898 and Starr in 1903, Gennett took over as president of the Starr Piano Company with his three sons acting as officers. They manufactured pianos in 52 styles and had sales rooms in twenty-four cities. In 1902, Field and Gennett bought out their brother-in-law's stock in the Jesse French Piano and Organ Company, including the Starr Piano Company. Starr remained in business until 1952.

O. K. Houck

 

Jesse French was the uncle of O. K. Houck who was the founder of the O. K. Houck Piano Company! O. K. Houck didn’t just happen in the piano business.  His uncle, Jesse French, was a famous piano manufacturer with music stores in various sections of the country.  As a boy O. K. worked in one of these stores during vacations and after school hours.  Later he traveled through country districts selling organs and pianos.  When he was 21, O. K. and his father started the piano business in Memphis.  The road was not easy but behind O. K.’s ready smile and hearty handshake there was a lot of old fashioned determination and stick-to-it-iveness.  Some men would have given up but O. K. had faith in himself and faith in his business creed and finally success was won.

In the 1940s, Selmer entered the piano market, purchasing the Jesse French Company of New Castle, Indiana. The division was closed in 1954 to concentrate on band instruments.

French was also an important family and business member of the Starr and Gennett piano and recording enterprise. The music industry dynasty of Jesse French and his connection with Starr and Gennett begins with his father-in-law John Lumsden. Lumsden was born in Southhampton, England in 1824, and moved to America in 1842. He married in 1848 and thereafter had three daughters. Callie married Jesse French in 1872, Maria married Oscar Addison Field in 1882, and Alice married Henry Gennett in 1875. The men these three daughters married are the principal figures in the development of the French empire, which came to include Starr and Gennett.

French started his company in Nashville and was soon successful. In 1883, he entered business in St. Louis with his brother-in-law, Oscar Addison Field, first as Field, French, and Company, then as the Field-French Piano Company. Field was born in New York State in 1847, entered the piano business in Nashville in 1875 (probably with French), married John Lumsden's daughter Maria in 1882, and moved to St. Louis in 1883. Under the leadership of Field, French, and Lumsden, the Field-French Piano Company was incorporated in 1887 as The Jesse French Piano and Organ Company of St. Louis. Lumsden, who had been in partnership with French and Field separately and collectively, also moved to St. Louis in 1888.

Elvis Presley’s first piano from O. K. Houck & Co. Website: http://www.scottymoore.net/okhouck.html

Jesse French Sheet Music

Centennial National Song
 Published by Jesse French in Nashville, Tennessee, 1875
, Rose Music Collection, TSLA

The 1876 Centennial International Exposition took place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.  Publisher Jesse French was a prominent piano seller based in Nashville who also became involved in publishing ragtime sheet music.  Among other subjects pictured are Lady Liberty, George Washington and Ulysses S. Grant.

Nashville Publishers Sheet Music Collection, 1863-1912
Sheet music published or distributed in Nashville, Tenn. A few items may have been published elsewhere but bear connection to Nashville through subject matter, illustrations, or printing house. Most items date from the late 1800s with a few from the early 1900s. Publishers featured prominently in the collection include: R. Dorman & Co.; Jas. A. McClure; Frank G. Fite; Jesse French; and H.A. French. Printing firms include: Brandon Printing; Benson Printing; Marshall & Bruce Co., and others. Many of these firms were located along Church Street. Most illustrated covers are black and white, although several are in color. A few feature photographs. Type of music varies, but includes marches and waltzes. Some music includes advertisements and catalogs for music and pianos, and occasionally other types of businesses. A few works were written specifically to highlight a particular brand or model of piano, such as the Starr piano, which was manufactured in Indiana, but sold at the Jesse French Piano and Organ Company in Nashville.

Jesse French’s son, H. A. French, published various rags, the first being “A Tennessee Tantalizer” in 1900, and then two of Charles H. Hunter works in 1901, “Possum and Taters”, “Queen of Love – Two Step”, and “Cotton Bolls”. Then in 1902, Charles transferred from Jesse French’s store in Nashville to the one in St. Louis, and published “Just Ask Me”, and “Why We Smile” in 1903. Charles died in 1906, but he published his final rag “Back to Life” in 1905.

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Jesse French Piano Belonging to Mara French

Jesse French piano, sold by Pommer in Sacramento, CA, guaranteed 20 years. Hands are those of Dale Fox, piano tuner and restorer in Sacramento.

I bought my Krell-French piano in 1977 in Cupertino, CA, at “Ye Olde Piano Shop”. The owner was from a 3rd Generation piano builder family. My piano was first sold at A. J. Pommer on 9th & J St. in Sacramento, CA. They sold baby carriages in 1896, pianos by 1906, and Regina Hexaphones by 1909. I didn’t realize until 2007 (30 years later) that the piano was made by Jesse French and not Pommer as the label on the keyboard cover said. The Krell-French name was found between the action keys near Middle “C”.

The serial number 34684 indicates it was made in 1907. Go to http://www.bluebookofpianos.com/serial1.htm and you’ll see that this piano was built in 1907.

Apparently I am not related to Jesse French – he’s not my great-grandfather, and I have no particular attachment to the piano other than the beautiful burl walnut cabinet. To completely redo the hammers and lose pins would cost $14,000, and it wouldn’t be worth it – perhaps if it were a grand it would be worth it. If anyone is interested in it, please email marafrench@mindspring.com.

 

J. Pommer on the corner of 9th and J St. in Sacramento, where the piano was first sold in 1906, now consists of modern multi-story buildings.

Mara French and her 1906 Jesse French piano in 2009, Sutter Creek, CA. Chair is Kauai.

What Date Is Your Jesse French Piano?

I dated my piano as 1906. It was one of the last pianos built by Krell-French before Krell left in 1905. A. J. Pommer in Sacramento started selling pianos in 1906; therefore, my piano dates about 1905-1906. Also, the serial number indicates that date. The serial numbers beginning with 33 and 34 in the Pierce Piano Atlas indicate that the piano was made in 1906. A number beginning with 84 indicates the piano was made in 1922. In other words, Jesse built my piano when he was 61 years old. On the Pierce Piano Atlas website, you can order decals, books, and find out the age and history of your piano. Here are a few known dates to help you.

Serial number 34684 -- 1906
Serial number 60714 – 1915
Serial number 84266 – 1922
Serial number 103483 -- 1927
Serial number 106072 – 1932

How Much is Your Jesse French Piano Worth?

In a sense that the general economic downturn in 2008 has affected the price of pianos – new and used.  "How much is it worth?" is like asking "How much is a used car?" There are so many variable factors involved. My Jesse French piano is worth no more than $800 in 2009, as estimated by my piano tuner, Dale Fox of Sacramento, CA. Piano sizes:

1. Concert Grand: 7’ to 9’
2. Grand Piano: 5’7” to 6’1”
3. Baby Grand: 4’11 to 5’6
4. Square Grand: 6’ to 7’
5. Upright: 50’ to 60’
6. Studio: 45’ to 48”
7. Console: 40” to 43”
8. Spinet: 36” to 38”

The current value is based on the age, condition, size, grade and rarity of this instrument. Where was it used, when was it tuned last and the market location where it is located or being sold. This requires research. Our keyboard research library is extensive. Over the past 300 years millions of pianos have been made by thousands of builders. We exhaust every resource we have to provide you with the information you request. Usually the most research time is spent on the brand names with the least information available. One hundred percent of our small fee goes to the researcher that spends time on your request. We hope you understand the need for this policy.

You need an appraisal in order to provide the value and an accurate appraisal of this instrument. 

Look at this appraisal of a Jesse French Grand Piano

Click here to order an appraisal:

https://mmm1112.verio-web.com/blueb1/appraisal.html  

Robin, www.bluebookofpianos.com, bluebookofpiano@aol.com

Also see http://www.pianoworld.com/value.htm

Owners of Jesse French Pianos

People who own or are interested in Jesse French pianos are listed below:

1. Terry Smythe, smythe@shaw.ca, 55 Rowand Ave., Winnipeg, MB, Canada R3J2N6, member of A.M.I.C.A. Automatic Musical Instruments Collectors’ Association, http://www.amica.org. (204) 832-3982 or (204) 981-3229.

2. John Motto-Ros, mottoros@sbcglobal.net, member of A.M.I.C.A. Automatic Musical Instruments Collectors’ Association, http://www.amica.org

3. John Molina, womensbasketball@aol.com

4. Jay Everett, jayeverett@msn.com, 1-334-699-3976 or 1-334-791-0248. My family owns a French Piano that has been in our family for at least 5 generations.  My 6 year old is now learning to play on this same piano.  I'd like to find out more about the history of the piano.  Would there be a date on the piano or any information on it so that I might be able to trace its history?

5. Sondra, sandralou@comcast.net has a very old Jesse French spinet piano with ivory keys. She bought the piano in Southern California and hauled it to Eugene, Oregon.

6. Kelly Marie Bandy, Kelly@niemannflooring.com, found an old Jesse French piano in her basement covered in cobwebs and dust with water damage. The serial number is 93097 which indicates it is newer than 1922.

7. Richard Meagher, owns a Jesse French player piano, bunkhouse40@yahoo.com

8. Alexander Hernandez, alex@calpiano.com, website: www.calpiano.com

9. Kim Riles, kimriles@hotmail.com. My mother-in-law has just passed her Jesse French piano on to me.  Unfortunately it has a few broken hammers (3) and I'm wondering if you could direct me to someone who sells compatible parts.  It's a spinet-style instrument.  It needs a bit of love, but it's still a great piano and I'd like to get it back into shape. Thanks, Kim Riles, Yellowknife, NWT Canada

10. Jan Moore, email: jmoore533@charter.net, has a 1933 Jessie French & Sons piano from New Castle, IN, #108891.

11. Melba Edwards, email: melsedwards@yahoo.com, has a 1924 or 1925 Jesse French piano that is about 39 inches tall with serial #91573.

12. Elton Camp in Russellville, Alabama, email: elton4562@yahoo.com: Jan 18, 2011: In the early part of the 20th Century my Mother learned to play the piano on a Jesse French piano.  The instrument remained in my grandparents house until their deaths and then was kept for years in their son's home.  I have many fond memories of that fine piano and was happy to be able to learn from your posting about the man behind the piano, Jesse French.  Thank you for sharing the information. 

13. Mark Workman, email: mworkman52@gmail.com: I have an old upright piano with the name Norwood placed above the tuning pins.  I have been told that the Houck or Jesse French might have been the parent company for the Norwood.  Any information you could send my way about the Norwood piano would be most appreciated.

14. Jonathan Woodliff, email: jwoodliff@sbcglobal.net.  I have located a Jesse French and Son's Piano for 49.95 in a Saver's thrift store. I can't give you the serial number because I couldn't find it. It is a very unusual looking piano though. It appears to be a studio sized piano and the top is completely rounded. There is no square shape to it whatsoever. All of the edges are round... indicating how old it could be of course. The top is round and has a similar shape to a rolled top desk. It's very unusual. I can't remember ever seeing a piano that looked like it before and I'm a pianist. It appears to be in restorable condition; but, I'm not really sure. People were avoiding it like the plague and looking at a piece of junk Kimball behind it as if it were the better piano. Somehow; I knew better. I've been contemplating buying the piano. What is your opinion?

15. Mara French, email: marafrench@mindspring.com. I had a 1907 Jesse French piano, but sold it in 2010. It would have cost $14,000 to renovate it. Hammers, etc. were very very old. All pegs had been hammered in too far or replaced and strings were of different eras and slipping. Basically, the mechanics were just too old, like an old VW -- it just ran unevenly. So I bought a Hassler German piano for $15,000 and I'm so happy with it. Keys don't stick and it is so dependable. The sound board is longer, but the piano is shorter (upright) because of the way the strings are placed. They use every bit of the interior furniture. The wood is from Finland from trees that grow very slowly and therefore are very hard. No pieces made in China. What I like the most about it is that every note is dependable and so my playing is more even and I enjoy the hobby more. I was always fighting with the Jesse French piano. And, mine is smaller and doesn't overpower the living room. Renovating the Jesse French piano would be like putting a brand new engine in a VW -- the design is still old and would not work 100%. I traded the piano for the delivery and tune-up charge on the new piano. The dealer had not seen the piano until it arrived at his shop, and he was sorry he took it.

16. Patricia Little, email: pat58pat@yahoo.com: I purchased the piano at a yard sale in 2009 for just $20.  I thought is was a real bargain although it does need some internal restoration.  I plan on keeping it in the family for future generations. 

17. Margaret Huston, email: smhuston@charter.net: I purchased a beautiful organ from a estate sale. Above the keys and under the knobs is printed "Jesse French Piano and Organ Co, St Louis MO. I found a number on the back #36316 and a number on a fan inside (that turns when you work the pedals), #87774. The man said he though it was made in the 1890's. Can you supply me any information on this organ.

18. John McNeill, Perth – Western Australia, email: john@gotalk.net.au.

19. Charles W. Wasson, email: cswmsu@neo.rr.com. I saw your website for the French Family Association. Several years ago we purchased a Jesse French solid walnut pump organ. As I recall, the keyboard is stamped 1885. The keyboard face is labeled in "Jesse French - Nashville, TN". We plan to sell the organ. However, before we advertise it, we thought we would first contact the family to see if there is interest in purchasing it. Do you know of others who might have an interest?

20. Kelley Stevens, email: Kelley.stevens@gapac.com. I’m wondering if you can help me find out more about a Jesse French baby grand that my fiancée and I just bought. The serial number is 106953, and from what I can tell, that would be 1930’s? We bought it at an estate sale in Chicago.

21. Steve and Regina Gottschalk, email: gotcha4@geetel.net. I found your contact information on the French Family website.  I realize you haven't put your contact information on the Web for questions about pianos but I am taking a chance anyway.  My name is Steve Gottschalk and I live in central Indiana.  Our family owns a Jesse French and Sons console piano that we must part with.  It is in good condition both the cabinet and acoustically.  We cannot find a home for it.  Do you know of any Jesse French piano collectors or a museum for French pianos.  I realize this is a stretch and sounds a bit far fetched but I really hate to see a nice piano go to waste.  If you have any recommendations I would gladly welcome them.  If you chose to disregard this email I also understand.  Thank you for your time.

22. Jason Sanders in Auburn, Alabama, email: southstuff@charter.net. I have a 1892 Lett Organ Receipt with the Jesse French Piano and organ Company Birmingham Alabama. I would like to send you a copy if you would like it. I wish I could find the organ as I have the style and serial number. There were two sisters of the purchaser who argued over owning it and the non- recipient had the receipt. The organ was traded in for a piano in the 1920's.

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