Lauren’s Gimmicks

You might not recall his first few gadgets, the spring driven clock that kept better time, three-dimensional glasses, or an automatic bridge table card shuffler. During the World War II, he helped develop a remote control of missiles, infrared sensors to guide bombs and a new type of gyroscope. His story gets way better so […]

Lauren’s Gimmicks

Flashback to the good old days!

My 1980’s stage setup:

Hammond B3/Leslie 122, Crumar Multiman S, Yamaha CP70 Stage Piano, Oberheim OBXA polyphonic synthesizer, Arp Pro-Soloist monophonic preset synthesizer, Hohner Clavinet D6, Minimoog synthesizer, numerous effects, pedals and a sixteen channel board to premix the signal going into the snake and out to the soundman running the main PA.

All analog gear. Hard to believe I needed all that stuff but it was a different era…pre-digital & pre-midi.

Live music was King- no D.J’s except maybe between sets.  Clubs would book bands for a full week and sometimes two. Six nights a week, three sets a night. Full-time working musicians could actually make a living and no one nighters unless doing concert dates.


All About John C. Fox Square Grand Piano 1866

John C. Fox trained both as a musician and as a manufacturer of pianos in the United States and Europe. He established a successful manufacturing firm in New York City (J.C. Fox and Company) and arrived in Kingston (Canada West) in February 1861 to sell pianos made by this firm. By June he had a branch store in Kingston and within a year had started a piano factory. By 1862 he was a resident of Kingston and had discontinued the New York firm. In September 1862, he competed in the provincial exhibition in Toronto and won first prize for the best piano. He also supplied instruments for visiting musicians and as a skilled performer himself, performed at numerous concerts and musical events including the first Confederation celebration in Kingston. His pianos were known for their superior quality and one was even presented to Lady MacDonald which was sent to the first Prime Minister’s residence in Ottawa. There is also a fine example on display at Fort Henry in Kingston.

Fox expanded his business in January 1864 purchasing a large stone building on Princess St. in Kingston, now the recently restored S & R building.

In 1865 he received a patent for a modified sounding board with a cast iron band that allowed his pianos to withstand the string pressure and produce a sound quality equal to the concert grand and upright pianos that were becoming increasingly popular in the late 19th century. He advertised these instruments as “Double Iron Clad Pianos” capable of exceeding competitors in both price and beauty of tone.

By this time, Fox owned the largest piano factory in Canada and was exporting his instruments all over the world. He employed over 60 men, many of them skilled artisans from American firms such as Steinway and Chickering who were willing to relocate to Canada to avoid conscription during the American Civil War. Fox and was producing six pianos a week which is quite remarkable for instruments that were entirely hand made. He had sales agents in Picton, Cobourg, Toronto, Hamilton and London.

In May of 1867 a fire destroyed the Princess Street factory and in October the collapse of the Commercial Bank brought financial failure and eventual insolvency. Fox suffered severe head wounds in early December 1867 from a sleighing accident and died in January of 1868.

The John C. Fox Serial # 3749 was acquired by Warren Seale in 2008 through an unlikely combination of chance, circumstance and coincidence and there remain many unanswered questions. The instrument was restored to pristine condition by John Hall of Napanee Ontario, probably the foremost authority on Fox pianos.

Although there is still much speculation and research in progress about Fox, his wife and child as well as questions regarding his cross-border dealings during the height of the American Civil War there is little doubt that the John C. Fox #3749 Square Grand is one of the finest remaining, fully restored and playable examples of these remarkable instruments in existence today and a treasured showpiece of the Ed-Vintage Studio collection.

Decker Bros. Concert Grand Piano

The BURLOCK-DECKER Concert Grand Piano (serial 5034) was almost certainly one of four produced by Decker Brothers for display at the 1876 Centennial Exposition (World’s Fair) in Philadelphia. The NEW YORK TIMES reported in September 1876, that the Decker Brothers exhibit was awarded First Place in the American piano division.

The instrument was privately acquired by John Lucas of Lucas Paints (later Sherwin-Williams) in Philadelphia. When Lucas passed away the Estate sold the piano to Duffy and Hughes Pianos of Philadelphia.

During the 1950’s W.L. Schryer, a piano lover from coastal Virginia, discovered and rescued the piano from the Duffy and Hughes warehouse and began the work of restoration, refinishing the original Rosewood in black lacquer.

In the mid 1960’s Frances Berman Burlock acquired it and it remained in the Burlock home in Poquoson, Virginia, for nearly fifty years where it was carefully maintained and regularly tuned. Warren Seale of Oakville, Ontario studied with Mrs. Burlock in the 1960s and took lessons on the instrument. After Frances Burlock’s death, the Burlock family decided that Seale-a musician and teacher in Oakville- should have it.

John Hall of the Canadian Piano Museum moved the piano from Virginia and undertook a complete restoration in preparation for it’s first concert performance in more than a century at St. George’s Cathedral in Kingston on November 17, 2013. This historic instrument is now part of the permanent collection of Warren Seale at Ed-Vintage Studios in Oakville.