Mason & Hamlin Co.

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Mason & Hamlin Co.

Mason & Hamlin Co., celebrated firm of piano manufacturers. The firm was founded as the M. & H. Organ Co. in Boston in 1854 by Henry Mason, a son of Lowell Mason and the father of Daniel Gregory Mason and Emmons Hamlin. The latter, a brilliant mechanic, turned his attention to improving the quality of the reeds and obtaining great variety of tonal color, with the result that in 1861 the firm introduced the American Cabinet Organ. The firm became internationally famous when at the Paris Exposition of 1867 its organs were awarded 1st prize over numerous European competitors. In 1882 it began the construction of pianos, introducing a new system of stringing which found immediate favor; of several improvements patented by Mason & Hamlin, the most important was the Tension-Resonator (1900; described in Scientific American, Oct. 11, 1902), a device for preserving the tension of the sounding board. The firm subsequently became a subsidiary of the Aeolian American Corp. and eventually of the American Piano Corp. Henry Lowell Mason, son of the founder, was president of the firm until 1929.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire