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Museum of Music Archive Collections

Érard, Pleyel, Gaveau Archive Collection

Finding an Instrument

You must orientate your search depending on information you hold on the instrument.

Depending on the document type, information can be organized by:

  • serial numbers
  • dates (sales, orders, repairs etc.)

Note: Only the Érard books of sales enable a search by name (buyer’s name index at the end).

You Know a Serial Number

Each instrument is assigned a unique serial number for identification. It is recorded in a specific workshop register, called "Manufacturing Register", at manufacturing stage or once the instrument is complete. Serial numbers are inscribed in ascending order and are only listed once; it is therefore easy to find the register for a given instrument.
Referring to a manufacturing register provides key information such as first sale’s date and buyer’s name. This information will prove useful when referring to other register types, such as books of sales.
Note: Between 1895 and 1937 Pleyel set up a double numbering system for pianos. Workshop registers from then work in pairs. Each of them mentions the two numbers but information is organized depending on one or the other. The first number is often called "Matricule de sortie" (release ID number) and the second "Matricule de fabrication" (manufacturing ID number). The Matricule de sortie” continues the preceding series of numbers. Instruments display both numbers - the "Matricule de fabrication" often including the letter "F" (e.g.: 3F456 for 3456). During a search, it is paramount to check the couple of numbers inscribed in the register match the relevant instrument.

Example of search by serial number
Knowing how to read an Érard Manufacturing Register
Knowing how to read a Pleyel Manufacturing Register

You Know a Date (purchase, repair etc.)

Each sale or order that took place in the shop is recorded in an account register (book of sales, order register etc.). Data is classified by chronological order.

Knowing how to read an Érard Book of Sales
Knowing how to read a Pleyel Book of Sales