Monday, March 21, 2011

The Bell ILLimitable Piano Action

Along with being one of the top Canadian piano makers, Bell Piano & Organ was known also for several interesting design ideas. One is the Illimitable upright piano action that has 3 springs instead of the usual two.

In most upright piano actions, there is the hammer return spring, and the coil jack spring; both ensure the return of parts to the correct position, after play. In the Bell illimitable piano action, there is an extra spring that travels through a mortised hole on the jack face and attaches to a silk tassel located underneath the hammer butt felt.
This idea was also incorporated into several other companies’ piano designs; Bechstein and Sohmer also had models with the same 3 spring piano action.

Along with the illimitable piano action from the Bell Piano Co. they also made an upright piano with two metal plates; one inside the instrument holding the strings in place and one outside the instrument at the back, instead of the usual six wooden posts that can be found at the back of the large old upright.

Both of these plates were bolted together through the instrument so the pin block and upper planks of construction were “sandwiched” together. This creates tremendous stability in the instruments design quality.
Nicknamed the Bell “steelback”I have come across many of these instruments over 45 years of restorative work.

Bell Piano Co was also well known for intricate and detailed cabinet designs on many of its models.
Here is an instrument I came across that had all three of these things. Along with that the serial number for this instrument is listed as the first entry for the year 1913.

Found in a church attic where it had been standing for more than 20 years, no one could recall how it got there.  I purchased the piano and brought it home for restoration.

So here is a photo album of a Bell steeback that has the illimitable piano action, the two plates, a very decorative cabinet, and is listed as an entry in the Pierce Piano Atlas.

Happy viewing…
Bell Illimitable Action

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