Friday, March 17, 2000
Vintage piano is grand addition
Auction offers music machine
BY MARIE McCAIN
The Cincinnati Enquirer
It's big. It's beautiful. It's electric. And after years as a collector's item it still works.
It's an electric baby grand reproducing piano, circa 1929.
This is how organizers for this year's X-Travaganza, the annual fund-raising event to benefit St. Xavier High School, describe one of the most unusual items up for bid in the event's 27 years.
The piano was donated by St. Xavier alumnus Alvin Wulfekuhl. He collects these pianos, which automatically mimic an artist's interpretation of a piece.
The Weber Duo Art baby grand will be one of more than 1,000 items featured Saturday. It will be displayed in St. X's student lobby todayfrom 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., officials said.
Organizers hope the auction will bring in about $375,000 to help support the school and its financial scholarships for needy students.
Other items for auction include stock packages, Riverfront Stadium box seats, a $1,000 Visa shopping spree, and sports tickets.
Mr. Wulfekuhl, a pharmacist who lives in Clifton, grad uated from St. X in 1951. He's had a fondness for the reproducing piano since he was a child, when his family stored one from 1934 to 1938 for their landlord.
When I was 2, my mother would put in a repeating roll (the mechanism that contains the musical piece) and I'd rock to it on my hobby horse, Mr. Wulfekuhl said Tuesday.
These kinds of pianos went out of style in the late 1930s after the onset of radio and recorded music.
Mr. Wulfekuhl owns five of the automated music machines. He bought his first reproducing piano in 1964. In 1969, he bought the Weber Duo Art from its original owners for $300. The West End couple had bought the piano in 1929 for $1,700, Mr. Wulfekuhl said.
He had the piano restored twice. It is now valued at $18,000.
Ron Wehmeier, a professional piano restorer based in Price Hill, restored the pia no's mechanics.
About 572 people are expected to attend the X-Travaganza auction and dinner. It will begin at 5:30 p.m. at St. Xavier High School, 600 North Bend Road, in Finneytown.
The event is sold out, but sealed bids can be made by calling 761-7815 ext. 117.
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