Seeburg Piano Company of Chicago, Illinois, was one of the two largest makers of coin-operated pianos and orchestrions in the U. from 1909 through 1928, second only to the giant Wurlitzer company in the 1910s, and then dominating the industry in the 1920s. He spent the next 18 years working in the piano industry in the Chicago area, first for C. Smith (which later became Smith, Barnes & Strohber), then Bush & Gerts, then as manager of the Conover piano manufacturing facility of the Chicago Cottage Organ Company (which became the Cable Piano Company), and then as a co-founder of the Kurtz-Seeburg Action Company in Rockford, Illinois in 1903.
After developing the Cremona A roll piano at Marquette, he formed the J. In 1909, Seeburg left Marquette and began building Seeburg coin pianos with new and different mechanisms, cabinet styles, and the Seeburg name, for sale to other customers.
In late 1926, Western Electric, which had been in a different location in Chicago, moved into the Seeburg factory.
The cabinets and piano assemblies, and most of the pneumatic stacks, were made by Seeburg; with pumps, roll mechanisms, extra instruments, controls, and coin mechanisms of different design resembling the earlier Cremona parts. Seeburg Piano Company began when he was a young boy and heard a KT Special orchestrion in an amusement arcade.
In 1924, a group of current Seeburg and former Marquette officials formed the Western Electric Piano Company, as a secret subsidiary of the Seeburg company.
Seeburg had already established exclusive dealership territories for its products all over the United States, and the rival Western Electric brand was offered to new distributors in the same areas to stimulate sales.
Many others, without whose help this registry would be much smaller and less informative, are listed in the Registry Acknowledgments page.In 1920, Seeburg began manufacturing its own pianos, and used them exclusively from late 1921 through 1928.Over the years, Seeburg produced many styles of coin pianos, orchestrions, photoplayers, and mortuary organs, until the electronic amplifier caused their demise, and the company went on to became one of the major manufacturers of coin-operated phonographs.We also provide reports showing only Seeburg pianos in this registry, and only Western Electrics in that registry, to facilitate the study of each brand separately. Seeburg Piano Company introduced its first basic coin-operated piano with the Seeburg name in 1909, installing its own mechanisms in pianos made by other companies.More background information on Western Electric is also included in that registry. The cabinet for the first model resembled an ordinary upright piano, but it had plain glass in the upper front allowing a view of the piano action as it played, similar to the immediately preceding Cremona A roll pianos built by Marquette. Seeburg announced a new concept that would revolutionize the industry—the art style coin piano.There were numerous Chicago-made Seeburg coin pianos and orchestrions in the collection, many of which were still in original condition, offering the opportunity to observe what materials were used originally, and to see the original dimensions of pneumatic cloth, valve travel, pouch dish, gasket thickness, regulation specifications, and other details that are difficult to find today because most instruments have been through at least one rebuilding.