Toy piano (Fr. piano jouet; Ger. Spielzeugklavier; It. pianino-giocattolo)
- Hugh Davies
- , revised by Anne Beetem Acker
(Fr. piano jouet; Ger. Spielzeugklavier; It. pianino-giocattolo)
Small keyboard instrument manufactured as a child’s plaything, with a usual compass of two diatonic octaves to three chromatic octaves. Its mechanism resembles that of the full-sized keyboard glockenspiel without dampers, a family of instruments among the earliest members of which were the Stahlklavier, built by Troiger in Dessau in 1792, and Franz Schuster’s Adiaphonon (Vienna, cl818), and which also includes the celesta; it may also be regarded as being related to certain struck tuning-fork instruments developed from the mid-19th century onwards. The toy piano was first produced commercially in Germany in the mid-19th century. Albert Schoenhut (b Württemberg, Germany, 1842; d Philadelphia, PA, 1912), a German immigrant who came from a family of toy makers, founded a company in Philadelphia in 1872 (incorporated 1897) to manufacture toys; on 18 September 1900 he patented (no.658,284) an improved toy piano mechanism resembling that of the English single-action piano. At his death he left the factory, which produced a wide range of other toys, to his six sons. In ...