I came across this Victorian era Mason & Risch piano in 1991. I had never come across a piano action such as this one so I purchased the instrument and brought it to my shop.
The plate had no markings of any kind that I could locate; completely blank without even any casting numbers. This was a ¾ plate instrument with the open pin block and a small Victorian sounding board.
Doing research on the Mason & Risch Piano Co. I found that previous to manufacturing their own line of pianos Mason & Risch sold pianos for mainly American piano manufacturers in 1871. By the year 1877 Mason & Risch had developed several design patents and were manufacturing their own pianos.
This piano is Mason & Risch # 668 which is an early instrument for them. The piano action has a hand written date of 03/11/68. This would indicate the 6th piano built in the year 1868.
I believe this was one that could have been an early prototype, with parts manufactured by other companies and Mason & Risch being the assembly point for all of the different components.
The piano action in this one is a rare one indeed; here is the photo album for the action. It is called a Brevet; I have not been able to find much information about this action. I sent the patent numbers to France and have someone there investigating the history of the Brevet piano action.
Here are the photos of a rare Herrburger- Schwander piano action.
Herrburger Schwander Rare Action
Also included here is a link to an old forum thread from Piano World Piano Technicians forum where technicians were discussing this rare action.