FOUNDATION FOR THE PRESERVATION OF CHICKERING AND EARLY AMERICAN KEYBOARD INSTRUMENTS
The Chickering Registry
Submission and Purpose
As part of our ongoing research, the Chickering Foundation maintains a registry of all extant or known Chickering pianos from before ~1890 of which it becomes aware.  To have your pre-1890 Chickering (serial numbers below 100,000) included in the Registry, send an email to info@chickeringfoundation.org.  Include as much information as possible, including the type of piano, the serial number, dimensions, number of octaves (compass), number of pedals, etc.  Please also include photographs of the piano overall, the interior showing the stringing pattern, the design of the iron frame (harp), etc.  It is especially important to include a clear photograph of the serial number.
In parallel with the ongoing study and transcription of the sales ledgers, the Registry affords a valuable glimpse at the evolution of the American piano in a period of its most rapid development.  Until the transcription and databasing of the contents of the sales ledgers are complete and made available here, the Registry can also serve as a rudimentary dating tool.  Finally, it is our hope that the Registry will inspire some sense of pride and community for those whose instruments are registered and perhaps those who hope to own an early Chickering.
Reading the Registry
Although the Registry is largely self-explanatory, a word regarding some of its perhaps arcane conventions may be warranted.  First, wherever possible, the date provided is taken from the sales ledgers, and represents the date the piano was shipped from the factory.  Because the serial numbers were entered in the ledgers before the pianos were shipped, they do not always appear to be purely chronological.  That is, a later serial number may have an earlier shipment date than its earlier neighbor.  The alternative, however, is to attempt to associate each serial number with the date it was entered in the ledgers; in some instances, the month and year are evident, but in many more, no entry date is provided.

Similarly, where indicated in the ledgers (which are not a bastion of consistency), the size, octave compass, and stringing listed in the Registry are taken therefrom.  Any discrepency between the ledger's data and that gleaned from review of the actual piano is noted in the Additional Details column.  Where the information was not in the ledgers but is confirmed from review of the iactua; piano the information is entered in italics.

For example, in the sample below, the ledgers indicate that piano 35930 was a "full grand" (Chickering's term for their largest grand, what is commonly called a "concert grand" today).  But because the full grand was the default for Chickering, it was not always indicated (that is, no indication of size in the ledgers means "full grand").  Thus, in pianos 38785 and 39205 "full" appears in italics, indicating that this does not appear in the leders but is confirmed from at least some degree of inspection of the piano.
Similarly, for piano 39205, the scale number 33B is entered in italics because Chickering, although it was applying the scale numbers on the pianos, was not yet logging them in the ledgers.  Nevertheless, photographic evidence of this piano shows the scale number, so it is entered in the Registry. 

Regarding that same piano, the Registry entry indicates "Fancy Grand."  This appears in the ledgers and is noteworthy enough to warrant inclusion.

Finally, the "Source" column indicates where the Foundation first learned of the piano.  This does not indicate that the cited source was the first to locate the piano, as one source often refers back to another.   The explanation for the various sources follows.  We take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank these researchers who have laid the foundation, if not the inspiration, for the registry.  

  • CF - Chickering Foundation

  • ClinkscaleMakers of the Piano, Vol. 2 1820-1860, (Oxford: 1999), Martha Novak Clinkscale.  This book (together the first volume covering the period 1700-1820) catalogs the then-known pianos of virtually all makers.  It is an astonishing achievement in its sheer scope.  The database has now been tirelessly digitized and expanded and is available online at http://earlypianos.org/.  All references to "Clinkscale" in the Chickering Registry refer to those pianos found in the print book.  Portions of the book are available for free online reading on Google Books.

  • HaupertThe Square Pianos of Jonas Chickering, Ph.D. diss. (Washington University, St. Louis: 1989), Mary Ellen Patnaude Haupert.

  • Kuntz - The registry at http://calcna.ab.ca/~ejkuntz/ compiled by Ed Kuntz of Calgary, Canada.  The registry does not appear to have been updated in a number of years.  This served as one of the initial inspirations for our maintaining an active registry, corrected with data from Chickering's sales ledgers.  We owe Ed a debt of gratitude for his work.

  • Kuronen - Darcy Kuronen is Head and Pappalardo Curator of Musical Instruments at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.  He has had a long interest in Chickering pianos and has freely and generously shared his years' of research into Chickering and other early piano manufacturers with us.  We consider him a peerless scholar and friend.

  • Tsang-Hall - The Chickering Piano Company in the Nineteenth Century, DMA. diss (Rice University, Houston: 2001).
Links to the Registries
The Chickering Registry is divided into three discrete tables: one for each type of piano.  Links to the individual registries follow.