Mason & Hamlin
In 1854, Henry Mason and Emmons Hamlin started the Mason & Hamlin Company in Boston, Massachusetts. Their goal was to produce the world’s best musical instruments. They started making a very fine reed organ before turning their attention to the manufacture of pianos.
Henry Mason was a pianist who came from a family of celebrated musicians. Lowell Mason, the writer of many hymns including “Joy to the World” and “Nearer My God to Thee” was his father and William Mason, also a composer of note was his brother. Henry Hamlin was not actually a musician, but was gifted in mechanics. He invented techniques for making organ reeds to simulate the sounds of other instruments such as the violin or clarinet. Mason & Hamlin won first prize for their organs at the Paris Exhibition of 1867 and many subsequent exhibitions as well.
After receiving world-wide recognition and success with their reed organs, Mason and Hamlin decided to launch into the business of piano making in 1881. Since the beginning of their piano manufacturing, the Mason & Hamlin Co. have held to strict standards of production. It was important to the original owners of the company that they take their time in producing only the best instruments they were capable of making. This meant quantity would not be high, but the instruments which were produced would be thoroughly inspected several times over and that all the best materials which were available would be used in their meticulous process. This care for high quality endures even to this day. Mason & Hamlin, one of the few outstanding piano manufacturers left in the United States, still only produces 50 uprights and 300 grand pianos every year. Quality is prized over quantity.
Through the years the Mason & Hamlin Co. has changed ownership several times, mostly due to war and the Great Depression in the first half of the twentieth century. The Cable/Conover Co. owned a significant interest during the earliest years of the 20th century before it was bought by the American Piano Co. (Ampico). In the midst of the Depression there was tremendous consolidation of piano production into a handful of surviving companies and Mason & Hamlin eventually became the flagship brand for the Aolian-American Piano Co. All production ceased during WWII. The brand name changed hands many times during this period and ultimately stopped at the Sohmer Piano Co. In 1989 Bud Greer bought the name along with several others and moved production to Haverhill, MA. His goal was to return the piano to its original design specifications and quality. Mr. Greer went bankrupt in 1996 and Burgett Inc. bought the business. Burgett also makes PianoDisc.
Burgett Inc. has been very successful where so many failed. Today’s Mason & Hamlin pianos once more have the same great characteristics from the Golden Age of piano making as well as the best innovations from the past century.