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Hallett & Cumston Piano

I have found adverts for a number of Hallett and Cumston pianos such as this :


This interesting piano was given to me by a friend in Maine. I was told that it was pre

Civil War, however I sent the brand Hallett and Cumston serial number 13237 and was told that it was built between 1865 and 1870 which is still very close to pre-Civil War. Does anyone know where or have any information on this Piano. It is viewable at


Description of the Instrument


Piano technician indicates that the rosewood case has been beautifully refinished/restored, and is highly decorated and carved. The instrument is reported to be in excellent playing condition with original strings, pins, hammers, and original ivory keytops. The two pedals are in perfect working order. There are two minor cracks in the soundboard which do not adversely affect the tone according to the technician. The seller indicates two keys to be a little sticky, and reports the two cracks to be at the edge of the soundboard and approximately 2-3" long. The technician's report is on file.


6+- Octave, 75 Note Keyboard on the c.1865-70, Hallet & Davis Square Rosewood Grand

Note the matching period piano stool..a rare find indeed.



Hallet & Davis was established in Boston around 1843, but was originally Brown & Hallet in 1833. When Brown retired in 1843, the Hallet and Davis company was established. Later name changes due to changes in the principles of the company include Hallet, Cumston, & Allen and Hallet & Cumston according to Pierce Piano Atlas, #10. Based on the number of calls I receive about squares, there are probably more old Steinway and Chick squares out there than a H&D like this. This factor may render this particular brand somewhat more rare and desirable for some collectors. Certainly, to find one in this rebuilt and refinished condition with a period piano stool is an unusual find for the square grand enthusiast. Bear priced the instrument based on condition, the refinished case, the piano stool, as well as the reported condition and play ability of the instrument. One certainly cannot find a square for $500 to $1,000 and place it in this condition for this asking price.



Below is a list of CUMSTON pianos owned by the presidents of the United States.


8th President - Martin Van Buren - 1837-1841, Hallet & Cumston Square Grand Piano


34th President - Dwight D. Eisenhower - 1953-1961, Hallet & Cumston Upright

Here is a quote from "Pianos and Their Makers" printed in 1911:


"Among the historic Boston firms, the Hallet & Davis Piano Company can trace its origin to the year 1835, when Brown & Hallet started in business. Brown was a graduate of the Chickering  factory and obtained several patents for improvements. He retired from the firm in 1843, and his place was taken by George H. Davis, the firm changing to Hallet, Davis & Company, under which title it continued with more or less success. After the death of George H. Davis on December 1, 1879, the business was incorporated. Under the management of E.E. Kimball as president, C.C. Conway, treasurer, and E.E. Conway as secretary, the concern has recovered its old-time prestige and is counted among the most progressive of the present day."


As you can see, there was high regard of the company at that time. The Hallet & Davis name was used until 1957.

Information provided by Greg Flannagan.


I am thrilled to hear from

Tom Hardiman , York Beach Maine about this family 20.2.2010.


Please check out their history



Pierce Piano Atlas account of this company is confusing:


"Hallet & Davis. Est. 1835, as Brown & Hallet, at 293 Washington St., Boston, MA. Brown retired in 1843 and he was replaced by George H. Davis.

Hallet became part of Hallet, Cumston & Allen, in 1847, when Mr. Davis retired. Allen resigned from Hallet, Allen & Cumston to formed [sic] Brown & Allen about 1850.

Hallet & Cumston was formed when Allen withdrew and they made pianos for many years thereafter. Adress in 1851 & 1852 was 409 Washington, Boston, which appears on iron plate of square piano #9932.

In 1879 the business was incorporated as Hallet, Davis & Co..."

"Allen Henry, Boston 1862 to 1873 later Allen & Co."

"Brown & Allen, 1835, see Henry Allen."

"Brown & Hallet, est. 1833, in Boston at the corner of Washington Ave.,and Washington St. Name was changed to Hallet & Allen, then Cumston joined the company."

"Hallet & Cumston, est. 1849, by William Hallet in Boston, MA..."

"About 1851 Henry Hallet & Russel Hallet withdrew from Hallet & Cumston and formed Russell Hallet & Co., about 1870 in Boston."

"Lord Geo., Goston [sic] 1837 to 1850."

"Lord, Gilbert & Cumston, Boston MA. in 1838." (entry for Timothy Gilbert contradicts earlier correct statement this was Lemuel Gilbert)

"Woodward & Brown, est. 1842, at 293 Washington, Boston. In 1860 at 377 Washington. Located at 175 A Washington in 1885. Moved to 200 Tremont St., in 1895."

Russell Hallet, piano forte maker, is listed at 74, Boylston street in 1829 and 1830, and joined the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics' Association 1837, the same year as Edwin Brown.

In 1839, Lemuel Gilbert left Lord, Gilbert and Cumston, located at the corner of Washington street and Hayward place.

Hallet, Davis & Co. advertised they began business 1843, following a partnership of Hallet, Davis, & Cumston, after which "the firm name has remained practically unchanged"

(Hallet, Cumston & Allen won a silver medal 1845, and are listed in an 1847 advertisement). Woodward & Brown advertised they were established the same year.

In 1845, Hallet (Russell 1807-), Davis (George H. 1811-1879) & Co. (H. Allen 1793-1871) are listed 293 Washington; Brown (John P. 1814-), Hallet (R.) & Woodward (I. c.1811-) are listed at the same adress but separately. Lord (Geo.) & Cumston (Wm. 1813-1870) are at 339 Washington, and Isaac Woodward & Co. at 352 Washington. Edwin Brown (1805-1902), piano maker is listed at 334 Washington (J. Chickering).

About 1850 Hallet, Davis & Co. employed 50 workers, Hallett & Ladd, water power, 25 workers, Hallet,


A receipt from Hallet (Russell) & Allen (Henry), 339 Washington street, "successors to Brown & Hallet" dated Feb. 15, 1851 for "1 Rd. Cor. Rosewood 7 Oct. Piano Forte | Carved Legs & Rd. No. 4621 $350." uses stationary printed for Hallet, Cumston & Allen with William Cumston crossed out.

In 1854, Hallet, Davis & Co. are listed at 409 Washington, Hallet & Cumston, 339 Washington, Woodward & Brown, 337 Wash., Brown & Allen, 354 Wash., Reuben F. Gray & Co. 364 Wash.

In 1855 Hallet, Davis & Co. established a factory on the site of Chickering's old warerooms at Franklin square.

In 1855, Hallett (Benjamin F. 1811-1882), Davis (G. H.), & Co., 409 Washington, Hallet (Russell) & Cumston (Wm.), 339 Washington, Woodward (Isaac) & Brown (J. P.), 387 Washington, Brown (Edwin) & Allen (H. & G. A. 1822-1874), 354 Washington, Brown, (Geo.) & Munro (John), 569 Washington, Gray (Reuben F.) & Woodward (Lorenzo D. c.1823-), 364 Washington. George Lord is listed at 339 Washington (H. & C.).

In 1857 Hallet, Davis & Co. advertised 409 Washington street as the adress of their warerooms.

In 1860, Hallet (B. F.), Davis (G. H. & C. S.), & Co., 409 Washington, Hallett (Russell) & Cumston (Wm.), 339 Washington, Woodward (Isaac) & Brown (J. P.), 387 Washington, Brown (Edwin) & Allen, 356 Washington. Henry Allen is listed at 395 Washington (W. P. Emerson), George Lord, 339 Wash. (H. & C.), and L. D. Woodward, 364 Washington.

In 1865 Henry Allen became partners with Wade H. Jewett in Allen & Jewett.

In 1861, Hallet (B. F.), Davis (G. H. & C. S.) & Co. 409 Washington, Hallett & Cumston, 339 Washington, Woodward & Brown, 387 Washington, L. D. Woodward, 364 Washington.

Hallet, Davis & Co.'s factory at Franklin square burned 1864, and a new six story factory was completed 1866 on Harrison Avenue, between Canton and Brookline street (The James Hotel built on the site of the burned factory was later purchased by New England Conservatory). Allen & Jewett's factory in Leominster also burned in 1864.

In 1864, Hallet (T?) & Davis, 272 Washington, Hallett & Cumston, 339 Wash., Woodward & Brown, 387 Wash., Hallet & McNeil, 283 Wash.


In 1865 James S. Cumston joined Mass. Char. Mech. Assoc.


In 1865, Hallet (B. F.), Davis (G. H. and C. S.) & Co., 272 Washington, Hallett (Russell) & Cumston (Wm.), 339 Washington, Woodward (Isaac) & Brown (J. P.), 387 Washington. Henry Allen is listed at 344 Washington, George H. Brown at 387 Washington (W. & B.), and Lorenzo D. Woodward is listed without adress.

Allen & Jewett dissolved partnership in 1869.

William Cumston died 1870 and was succeeded by his son James S. Cumston.


In 1870, Hallet (B. F.), Davis (George H. and C. S.), & Co., Harrison ave, corner of East Brookline and offices at 272 Washington, Hallett & Cumston (James S. Cumston, 1842?-), 339 Washington, Woodward (Isaac) & Brown (John P.), 387 Washington. Henry Allen (piano warerooms) and George A. Allen (manufacturer, Allen & Co.) are listed at 170 Tremont, Edwin Brown and George H. Brown at 387 Washington (W. & B.), Lorenzo D. Woodward is listed without adress.

Henry Allen died 1871.

Hallet, Davis & Co. advertised by 1872 they had manufactured more than 16,000 pianos, and offered new instruments priced between $340 and $1,400.

In 1872, Hallet (B. F.), Davis (George H.) & Co., Harrison avenue corner of East Brookline, and offices at 272 Washington, Hallet & Cumston (Jas. S.), 339 Washington, John P. Brown (Woodward & Brown), 387 Washington, Isaac Woodward (Woodward & Brown), 514 Washington. Russell Hallett is listed at 143 Tremont, Edwin Brown at 514 Washington (W. & B.), Lorenzo D. Woodward is listed without adress.

George A. Allen died 1874.

In 1875, Hallett (B. F.), Davis (George H.), & Co, Harrison avenue, corner of East Brookline, and offices at 484 Washington, Hallett & Cumston (James S.), 517 Washington, Woodward (Isaac) & Brown (John P.), 514 Wash. and 690 Wash. Edwin Brown is listed at 690 Washington (W. & B.) and Lorenzo D. Woodward is listed without adress.

In 1878, Hallett, Davis, & Co. 436 Washington, Hallett & Cumston, 1287 Washington street, Woodward (Isaac) & Brown (J. P.), 690 Wash. Edwin Brown is listed at 690 Washington (W. & B.).

George H. Davis died 1879. Russell Hallett retired by 1880.

In 1879, Hallet & Davis Co., warerooms at 436 Washington, Hallett & Cumston, 459 Washington street, Woodward & Brown, 592 Washington.

Hallet & Davis Co. had manufactured nearly 25,000 pianos by 1881. They listed offices and warerooms at 436 Washington Street.

Russell Hallett died in 1881 or 1882, and B. F. Hallet died 1882.

In 1882, Hallet & Davis Co., 700 Harrison av and 436 Washington, Hallett & Cumston (mnfrs.), 459 Washington and rear, 1287 Washington, Woodward & Brown, 592 Washington. Brown Edwin is listed at 592 Washington (W. & B.).

In 1883, Hallet & Davis Co., 436 Washington and 700 Harrison avenue, Hallett & Cumston, 459 Washington, Woodward & Brown, 592 Wash. Edwin Brown is listed at 592 Washington (W. & B.).

In 1884, Hallet & Davis Co. 700 Harrison avenue and 167 Tremont, Hallett & Cumston, 157 Tremont, Woodward & Brown, 175 A, Tremont.

In 1885, Hallet & Davis Piano Mfg. Co., 700 Harrison avenue corner of East Brookline, and salesroom at 167 Tremont, Hallett & Cumston (James S.), 1287 Washington office 157 Tremont, Woodward (A. S.) & Brown (J. P), 175A Tremont. Edwin Brown and Lorenzo D. Woodward are listed without adress.

In 1889, Hallet & Davis Piano Co. 700 Harrison av., salesroom 179 Tremont, Hallett & Cumston (James S.), 157 Tremont, factory rear 1287 Washington, Woodward & Brown (John P.) Edwin Brown, and Lorenzo D. Woodward are listed without address.

In 1890, Hallet & Davis Piano Manufacturing Co., 700 Harrison avenue, salesroom 179 Tremont, Hallett & Cumston, 1293 Wash., and 157 Tremont. Edwin Brown and Lorenzo D. Woodward are listed without adress.


Piano Companies Listed in the Howe Collection at The University of Maryland



The University of Maryland maintains the Howe Collection of Musical Instrument Literature: Piano Series. This fine collection is available to the public, and in many cases they will send you photocopies of specific pieces for a nominal fee. A large number of the companies listed herein made player pianos as well as regular pianos, and quite often you can find documents related to original advertising and pricing, as well as other historical tidbits of information about player pianos.


Hallet, Cumston & Allen (1863-1887)