Finish: ‘Cabbage White’ Farrow & Ball – Estate Emulsion
City: NY, NY
Year: C. WWII
Size: 42″ T x 24″ D x 58″ W
We’ve refinished this piano in ‘Cabbage White’ by Farrow & Ball. White symbolizes peace and honours the sacrifice of the Allied Troops who fought and died during World War 2.
From The San Diego Tribune, by Gary Warth:
For American troops fighting in a far-away country during World
War II, anything that reminded them of home was a welcome treat. A letter from a family member was devoured almost as fast a batch of cookies from Mom, and a picture of Betty Grable definitely was a gift that would keep on giving.
But throughout the 1940s, troops in Europe, Africa and the Pacific received what must have been one of the most unexpected packages they would ever open: Steinway upright pianos, specifically made for the military.
Steinway made about 3,000 “Victory Vertical” pianos for troops
between 1941 and 1953. After a five-year search, the Museum of
Making Music in Carlsbad has acquired one and has it on
“It’s been on our wish list since we opened,” said Carolyn
Grant, executive director of the museum. “We just kept putting the word out and putting the word out.”
“Victory Vertical” pianos came in olive drab, blue and gray. The
museum has an olive-drab 1944 model, which is displayed with a
photo of men in uniform, gathered around a pianist and singing in an unspecified location somewhere during World War II.
It was a familiar sight for Carlsbad resident Murray Davison, a
World War II Army veteran who played trumpet in an entertainment troupe and still performs locally with the North County All Stars.
“Anybody who could play an instrument, whether they were good or bad, would play,” Davison said. “And the guys loved it. It’s was a nice camaraderie. And I’ll tell you one thing: It kept a lot of guys from going stir-crazy.”
The troops’ appreciation for live music is evident in a letter
from Pvt. Kenneth Kranes to his mother in New York. The museum obtained a copy of the letter from Steinway & Sons.
“Two nights past we received welcome entertainment when a jeep pulling a small wagon came to camp,” the letter reads. “The wagon contained a light system and a Steinway pianna (sic). Mom, you would laugh if you were to have seen it, because the Steinway is not at all like Uncle Jake’s. It is smaller and painted olive green, just like the jeep. We all got a kick out of it and sure had fun after meals when we gathered around the pianna to sing. The only thing missing was Uncle Jake’s high notes. I slept smiling and even today am humming a few of the songs we sang.”
The letter was dated May 6, 1943. Kranes was killed the
following week by German tank fire.
A book produced by Steinway & Sons explained that the
company was prohibited from building pianos during World War II because of restrictions the government placed on iron, copper,
brass and other raw materials considered important to the military effort.
The Steinway factory instead produced coffins and parts for
troop transport gliders, while the Baldwin Piano Company made
wooden airplane wings and the Gibson Guitar Company made wooden toys.
The one exception to the musical moratorium came when the
government granted a contract to Steinway for the “Victory
Davison said he probably saw a “Victory Vertical” in one of the
impromptu jam sessions he remembers during the war. At a time when men played whatever cheap guitar they could find and used newspapers for drums, a Steinway certainly would have stood out, especially in an Army tent somewhere behind the front line.
“It was not the type of thing you found in every nightclub or
dive,” he said about Steinways. “It was mostly used in classical
While pianos were rare, Davison said he saw plenty of musicians
playing whatever instruments they had on hand.
“Every place you could think of, there were guitarists, and some
of them were pretty good, and some played just for fun,” Davison said. “They were not polished musicians, but they played very well.
Anything they could get hold of to play. Anything that would soften the tension a little bit.”
Rock and roll had not been invented yet, and jazz was beyond the reach of many of the musicians, so troops usually played popular country and Western songs when they gathered up their instruments, he said.
“No matter where you went, any place where there were guys
sitting around, they loved to hear it,” he said. “I would love
sitting around and watching the guys play country and Western. I remember I was teaching some of them to play jazz, and they were showing me how to play country.”
No matter what style or music or how it was played, Davison
remembered it as a welcome relief for the men of World War II.
“It made a lot of guys really happy,” he said. “Any kind of
music can go a long, long way to make a person feel a lot