York, Pa.’s Weaver Organ and Piano Co.: ‘Guaranteed to give permanent satisfaction’

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This image was used to promote Weaver Organ and Piano products made in York, Pa. This card appears to be 1920s vintage. (See sales pitch set to verse on the card’s back below.) Also of interest: Junior Curators exhibit: The name of Lefty York of York, Pa., lives on and The organ: ‘It is a whole orchestra in itself’.

Dan Meckley III’s father was an exec at Weaver Organ & Piano Co. for years before its closing in the 1950s.
So history-minded Dan III has made sure the York community has a musical legacy of that venerable’s company’s products at the York County Heritage Trust’s Historical Society and Agricultural and Industrial museums.
Recently, Dan put forth advertising cards – actually, miniature handbills – touting the company’s organ and pianos, made at its four-story factory on North Broad Street.
Some of the cards are targeted to families, who kids would make prospective users. Others were targeted to upscale market. Those in his collection addressed women suggesting that they were decision-makers on the purchase of pianos and organs… .


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The back of the handbill (above) used to promote Weaver Organ and Piano.
One card implies a lifetime guarantee: “Endorsed by the World’s Leading Musicians, Highest standard of excellence. Guaranteed to give permanent satisfaction.”
Here are some interesting notes from Dan, George Sheets’ “Made in York” and my “In the Thick of the Fight,” about pianos and organs and Weaver:

– The company was found in 1870, and Weaver peaked in 1929 with production of 45 pianos a day, made by a work force of 200 people. Products included player, grand and upright pianos.
– Player pianos were a primary form of home entertainment before radios displaced them.
– Facing the growth of radio makers and a Depression-era economy, Weaver retooled its unsold inventory of player pianos for resell as regular pianos.
– Ivory for use as keys was shipped to York in thin strips, where they were cut to length. Salepeople left behind the tips of elephant tusks, as calling cards.
World War II actually caused a sales increase because the military ordered pianos, painted olive drab, for use at USO’s and military installations around the world.
– When the company closed in 1959, only 18 American piano makers were still in business. At one time, about 280 companies made pianos.
– The Weaver building stands today on North Broad Street. Will it be developed into condos or housing, as has been the case of so many other big brick factories around York?

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.
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