The “Cocked Hat” grand piano is one of the rarest as well as oldest pianos in the United States. Its name came about due to the unique tilt and shape of its raised cover. In fact, this “Cocked Hat” piano was built in Boston at the George M. Guild Co. back in 1861. During that time, it was retailed for $1,000. However, the price of it today has increased a hundred times to become $100,000.
The strange part is that Ron Hansford, the man who has owned it over the past four decades, was absolutely clueless that it was worth that much until recently. Back in 1971, he bought the piano and stored it at his mother’s house. After he had it restored, he shifted it to his own home in Harlem. “I figured it was poetic justice to have it relocated to Harlem, the home of one of the greatest musical periods in our country’s history, and to the block named for one of the most creative and important artistic minds of a generation. I don’t know much about the piano’s life before it came into my life, but I know that this location is a good, almost spiritual home for it,” he explained.
Back in the summer of 1971, 17-year-old high school senior Ron had just picked up the hobby of collecting vinyl records, which led him to the home of another record collector to purchase music. It was there that he came across the piano. “I saw they were into collecting pianos too, mostly player pianos. But then I saw this one. I was smitten. It was beautiful and I had to have it, never mind that I didn’t play piano. I’d had a small electrical organ as a child, but that was it,” recalled Ron, who ended up paying $700 for it and had it delivered to his mother’s place across town.
“I wanted to do something special with it. And I’ve said that ever since — the entire 42 years. But it was only a couple years ago that I finally decided to have it looked at and find out what this piano’s story was,” he said. After he retire, he began looking for someone to restore the piano. Every expert he met seemed to direct him over to Michael Stinnett, proprietor of the Antique Piano Shop. Through Michael’s 18 months of hard work, the piano was restored and valued at $100,000. For more of the story, do check it here.
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