Nordheimer Piano & Music Co history article with exclusive image

The blog asked David Wencer to write  an article about the Nordheimer Piano & Music Co. As on the blogs tour of the The Village by High Park project provided by Deltera’s senior site superintendent Sean McCaffrey – seeing the artifacts of his families Nordheimer Piano factory greatly interests this author in learning more about the factory. Sean McCaffrey is a direct descendant of Samuel Nordheimer the owner of the Nordheimer Piano factory pictured

follows… Sean’s image with his kind permission for it to used here, and David’s article.

IMG_0285 (1)

This portrait used to hang in his Glen Edyth estate at Davenport and Spadina. Provided for use in this post by Sean McCaffrey.

Nordheimer Piano & Music Co., began in Kingston, Ontario, when brothers Abraham and Samuel Nordheimer opened a piano dealership in 1842. A few years later they moved to Toronto, and quickly became one of the Dominion’s top dealers of sheet music world-class pianos. Starting in 1858, Nordheimer was Canada’s official seller of Steinway pianos, and the two remained associated with each into the 20th Century.

The company thrived, and in the late 1880s Nordheimer began manufacturing their own pianos, first as part of a group project known as the Lansdowne Piano Company, and by 1890, under the Nordheimer name itself.

In early 1904 Nordheimer opened a state-of-the-art, five-storey factory in what was then the town of Toronto Junction, near what is now the northeast corner of Indian Grove and Hook Avenue. This new building was made of white brick, and featured 60,000 square feet of floorspace, a lumber yard, two large elevator shafts, and a fancy new sprinkler system. The facilities enabled Nordheimer to produce pianos which had a very high reputation; advertising for the company mentions that “the Nordheimer Company’s ideal and energy is concentrated on the forces necessary to accomplish – regardless of cost – the product of the highest class and best grade only.”

An advertisement in a 1904 edition of the Toronto Globe touts the Junction factory’s railroad sidings “which, being used in connection with the different railway lines running through Toronto Junction give the Nordheimer Company the best facilities for shipping their manufactured products to every part of the Dominion.” From this facility Nordheimer was not only able to ship goods across Canada, but also to send finished pianos to their warerooms and recital hall in downtown Toronto, located at 15 King Street East.

By the early 20th Century, Nordheimer claimed to be the oldest piano and music establishment in the American continent. The company and the owners had certainly grown to be amongst Canada’s elite; Samuel had been President of the Federal Bank of Canada, President of the Toronto Philharmonic Society, and served the German Consul for Ontario. Abraham’s son Albert succeeded Samuel as head of the company; he himself served as the Dutch Consul-General for Canada.

Nordheimer officially ceased to be an independent company at the end of 1927, when Albert retired. Their Junction factory remained in use, however, manufacturing pianos under the Nordheimer name for Heintzman and Co., another prominent Toronto-based piano manufacturer. Sources disagree as to when Heintzman ceased the Nordheimer line, with the latest date given being 1960. It is believed that a total of 27,846 Nordheimer pianos were produced, the bulk of them at the Junction factory.

post text by David Wencer

17 Comments

Got something to say? Feel free, I want to hear from you! Leave a Comment

  1. Sonny P says:

    I have an original Heintzman babygrande upright piano made in this very factory. If anyone is interested in it leave an email addy here and I'll contact you.

  2. David says:

    Sonny P – to clarify, you have a Heintzman or a Nordheimer? These were (at least in the beginning) two different companies and factories. Heintzman was where the condo tower is going in, and Nordheimer was to the east, at Indian Grove and Hook. These factories existed simultaneously for several decades.

  3. Sonny P says:

    It's a Heintzman. My neighbour owns it but she wants to sell it. Funny enough it's actually in a house on Heintzman! I believe it's from 1890 but its in great shape.

  4. Gillian Salmond says:

    Samuel Nordheimer was my great grandfather (my mother's father was Roy Nordheimer, Samuel's son).
    My son has a Nordheimer piano – I believe from 1896 – which was bought at a piano store in Guelph about 15 years ago.

  5. Maggie T. says:

    Thank you for this article about Nordheimer's history. I have been curious about what year my old Nordheimer piano was made. I see a manufacturing number inside the piano, but just that – no date noted with it. The steel frame in this old piano is a work of art. It has the most lovely design painted on it of swirls and leaves. I value this old piano, not because it is old, but because it has a rich tone and it is a delight to play. I have recently been working at restoring the exterior and with each hour of time, it is looking better and better. If you know of where one could find the manufacturing number to match to the year of production, it would add even more to the history of this lovely instrument.

  6. Michael says:

    If its a babygrand the serial number is stamped under the legs, on the fallboard and on the padal block you have to take one of them off to see it.

  7. Carol Y says:

    I have just purchased a spinet that my piano tuner says dates to 1959 and was made under the Nordheimer name even though the metal housing says Heinzman inside. The serial number on the metal would date it being 1905 which we knew to be incorrect. I do not know how the tuner man came to give it a date of 1959 . How can I verify he was correct? Its a beautiful little walnut apartment size cabinet. Thank-you

  8. kristen says:

    I have an upright Nordheimer piano made in Toronto, I think it is around 1900. It is in pretty good shape, any ideas on the value?

  9. Anthony Nordheimer says:

    I am a great grandson of Samuel Nordheimer still living in the GTA. I have some original pictures of the Nordheimer home near Casa Loma and other items which I greatly cherish. More recently I acquired an original cheque signed by Samuel Nordheimer in 1906 at an antique auction, a lucky find.

  10. nazanin says:

    I am interested. pls email ma at nazaninkhani7@yahoo.ca

  11. Doug Fyfe says:

    Hello,
    I work at Spadina Museum ( a neighbour to the former Nordheimer home of Glen Edythe) I am interested in seeing your photographs and other items that may be related to either Glen Edythe. Can you please contact myself at dfyfe@toronto.ca
    all the best
    Doug Fyfe

  12. Gina C says:

    I have an A & S Nordheimer piano serial # 3699. Any idea how old it is? I cannot find the information on the internet. It is in need of some tlc but I am reluctant to touch the finish.

  13. Bob B. says:

    Hi is any one interested in buying my Nordheimer Special piano. Serial # 19330. The first tuning was in 1935, then 1936. I have kept up with the tuning. It sounds good but I do not have time to play anymore. If any one is interested, please contact me with an offer. On the piano, the wording says Nordheimer-Toronto established in 1840. I have been playing on it for many years and it is in good shape.

  14. Kelly says:

    I have an upright NORHEIMER piano with a number 7456 and found manufacture date on a 1/2inch strip of wood with eye bolts running along it. Reads PAT.MARCH:20.1877.
    PAT.NOV.-26.1878. I cant believe its that old, the sound and condition is immaculate. Just need to tune a couple of keys tuned

  15. Mike says:

    I have a Norheimer upright number 17786 curious to the date it was made and any history on it? aswell as the value?

  16. Rhoda says:

    Hi I have a Nordheimer upright piano #7902. It has "Lansdowne" manufactured by Nordheimer Co Limited Toronto. Can someone tell me the value of this piano? I would like to get rid of it since nobody plays the piano anymore. Thank you. 🙂

  17. Finn McCool says:

    I have a 1905 Nordheimer Upright Grand in quite good condition. Very solid with great base tones. Wonder what it’s worth…?

Leave a Comment

Let us know your thoughts on this post but remember to place nicely folks!

%d bloggers like this: