In 1887 Justus Seeburg started his career in the piano industry. He spent these years in the Chicago-land area. The first company Seeburg worked for was C.A. Smith this later became Smith, Barnes, and Strohber. Â Seeburg then went and worked for Bush and Gertz. After Bush and Gertz he became the manager of the Conover Piano manufacturing facility of the Chicago Cottage Organ Company.
They later became the Cable Company. Seeburg then entered the piano indrusty on his own when he co-founded the Kurtz – Seeburg Action Company in Rockford Illinois about a hour and a half outside of Chicago. In 1905 Seeburg returned to the Chicago area. Seeburg did this to enter the Coin-operated piano field. Seeburg worked at the Marguette Piano Company. During this time Seeburg and his associates built the first coin pianos “on location” in the city. In 1907 Seeburg founded the J.P. Seeburg Company. This company distributed the full out put of the Marquette Company. 1909 the J.P. Seeburg Company began selling pianos with the Seeburg name and mechanisms. Â During this time Seeburg purchased pianos from many different manufactures. Seeburg would then build and install the player mechanisms at the Seeburg factory. From 1909 to about 1920 each Seeburg piano was assigned a serial number by the manufacturer of the piano. Seeburg introduced new models in alphabetical order. Sometimes he would introduce them one at a time or sometimes several at one time. August 1911 by this time Seeburg was advertising their own line of five models with no less then Â three art styles. During this time he was calling attention to the new style E violin piano. Styles A and B were plain styles with styles C,D, and E being the art styles. These styles Â incorporated art glass fronts. From the information known the first Seeburg models A through E were made by the Haddorff Piano Company of Rockford Illinois. Since Haddorff had a large established manufacturing facility it is likely they also produced the cabinets for these pianos. Haddorff Â supplied Seeburg with complete pianos ready to have there player mechanisms installed. The Haddorff Piano Company also made the keyboardless (cabinet style) pianos used in pre-1920 Seeburg K’s and KT’s The Serial numbers of Haddorff pianos that Seeburg used were always rubber stamped and were from around 19000 (1907) to 95000 (1921). In May 1912 Seeburg started advertising there fanciest A-roll piano the style F. By the end of 1912 Seeburg was also advertising the G,H,J and L orchestions. These were more elaborate then the early coin pianos. Post 1920 J.P. Seeburg Piano Comanpy. With the beginning of Prohibition, the market for large orchestrions was almost non-existent. Seeburg continued to advertise the G and H orchestrions. Very few of these were sold after 1920. Seeburg changed his focus to smaller simpler coin pianos. These models included the redesigned E,K and KT with xylophone. The model L was introduced in 1921. The KT special and various Western Electric models were introduced in the mid-1920’s May 1919 Seeburg resigned from the J.P Seeburg Piano Company and founded the Marshall Piano Company this was named after his son N. Marshall. The Marshall Piano Company was located in the same premises on Dayton Street. The Marshall Piano Company was to build ordinary pianos in anticipation of a diminished demand for coin pianos and orchestrions. With the introduction of the smaller simpler style instruments business unexpectedly boomed. On July 30, 1920 J.P. Seeburg repurchased the Seeburg Piano Company and merged it with the Marshall Piano Company. This made the Seeburg Piano Company a fully self contained company. Seeburg took every measure possible to simplify the production line. This included pipes being almost completely discontinued except on special orders. Piano stacks were completely redesigned. Post 1920 cabinets where also much simpler then the earlier models. They typically had much cheaper, thinner, non-rubbed finishes including the inexpensive “silver-grey” finish. There were many more changes Seeburg implemented during this time to produce cost efficient pianos. In 1924 Axel Larson, Byron Waters and Russell Wilcox, previously of Marquette Piano Company became officers of the new “Western Electric Piano Company” a secret subsidiary of the Seeburg Piano Company. Many Western Electric coin pianos and orchestrions were produced in the Seeburg factory. These pianos were numbed in the Seeburg serial number system between 158000 and 168000. Coin piano production ended in 1928. Seeburg went on to produce Juke-Boxes.