In the decades before technological innovations such as the record player, radio, and television revolutionized leisure time, the piano served as the centerpiece of entertainment in many American homes. The popularity of the piano contributed to the demand for toy pianos, which became readily available to consumers in the late 19th century. Albert Schoenhut, a German toy maker who settled in Philadelphia in 1866, developed the toy piano as it exists today. In the earliest toy pianos, hammers struck fragile glass sounding bars rather than strings. Schoenhut, however, thought to replace the glass with durable steel bars that could withstand hours of enthusiastic play. Designed to imitate their full-sized counterparts and often ornately decorated and equipped with up to three octaves of perfectly tuned, imitation-ivory keys, Schoenhut toy pianos allowed even the littlest family members to participate in the popular pastime. Though Albert Schoenhut's original company closed its doors in 1935, his name and tradition of quality lives on, and Schoenhut pianos remain in production to this day.


  • Title: Toy piano:Square Piano
  • Creator: The A. Schoenhut Co.
  • Date Created: ca. 1915
  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Subject Keywords: piano, music
  • Type: More Toys, Entertainment and Music
  • Medium: wood, steel, painted
  • Object ID: 78.3445

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more


Google apps