Wurlitzer Piano – A Great 1950 Wedding Gift!

Wurlitzer Piano ad 1950

Last time you went to a wedding, what did you give as a gift? Some kitchen items from the couple’s registry? Towels, maybe? A gift card? Or maybe a Wurlitzer piano?

Okay, if you’re paying attention, the last one probably stopped you in your tracks. But apparently, at some point in American history, Wurlitzer pianos were indeed a reasonable wedding gift suggestion.

I was blessed with a very large stack of vintage (circa 1950) Etude music magazines by a former music teacher at the school where I taught. Every week, I page through a few of these. I find them a fascinating glimpse into what life in this country used to look like. Many times, honestly, I have wished I could live in a world where brides wanted pianos for wedding gifts and where students write in, asking the expert whether practicing piano an hour daily is sufficient to become proficient (answer from a 2017 piano teacher: YES).

Wurlitzer Piano

If you had to connect a single word with “piano,” what would it be? According to this ad, you might be right to choose “romance,” “sentiment,” or “happiness for a lifetime” (okay, that last isn’t a single word. But just go along with me. Writing these posts each day takes enough time as it is). What words might we link with piano these days? How about “expensive,” “bulky,” or “difficult to move”? Sad, but true. These are some I might infer from hearing talk among adults today.

Perhaps the Wurlitzer was more lightweight than modern pianos, as I can’t imagine two men (and smiling ones at that) moving either of the two pianos I’ve owned, at least if they hoped to later tell the story.

I’m wondering too just how much a Wurlitzer piano cost in 1950. When I got married, 20-some years ago, a typical wedding gift set guests back to the tune of $20 or so. Is this ad aimed toward parents of the happy couple, eager to make a large financial investment in the white-picket-fenced life they’re hoping to begin? Or maybe the neighbors got together back in those days and pitched in to buy a vacuum cleaner — or a piano.

Regardless, I kind of like the ad. I like the idea of a bride happily opening a set of Tupperware, a bathmat, and a piano! I like the thought that a piano could lead to happiness for a lifetime. It’s charming to see piano movers with smiles on their faces, wearing spiffy caps and setting down a piano like it’s just another side table. 1950 was a different world. I’d be happy to experience its romance and sentiment anytime.

6 thoughts on “Wurlitzer Piano – A Great 1950 Wedding Gift!

  1. I had friends who inherited his Mom’s piano–much like the one in the piano in 50’s “Blonde” wood. It had been an anniversary gift from his Dad to his mother. He learned on it and they inherited it when their son started school and piano lessons. The blonde finish didn’t match anything in their house but they didn’t care–happily. I’ve lost touch with them, I wonder how the 2nd generation of piano lessons went…. Great memory post–as always. Love these.

  2. I wonder if it was just more common for people to have pianos then. I was born in the late 50s, and we never had one, but my mom spoke of their family gathering around the piano and singing together – and they weren’t a musical family otherwise. I can remember up through my mid-teens that every mall had a shop with small organs, and we knew several people who had one. I read somewhere that one bad thing about having so much music at the ready these days is that most people don’t make their own music any more. Then again – maybe it was just wishful thinking on Wurlitzer’s part, trying to suggest a new tradition, LOL! I don’t know what they cost then, but it still seems like that would be a present from parents or perhaps from the husband to his new bride rather than something you’d get from friends.

  3. Well, this is a bit unlike your normal posts. I can’t imagine that a piano would ever have been within the price range of a wedding gift. But if the bride mentioned in this ad were a pianist, she should have been ecstatic at the gift.

  4. Oh, how sweet! I was thinking it was probably an idea for the groom to give to his bride. Mom had a piano, and I loved coming home from school and hearing her play while I was still down the road. She, my sister and I would sing together while she played, too. Good memories! Then our youngest son, maybe 6 or 7, wanted a piano, and began doing odd jobs to save up, and when he found one he longed for, it turned out his two older brothers had been saving for him too, so they were able to buy one between the three of them, and then he paid them back (actually, one of his brothers told him it was a gift). Anyway, more good memories.

  5. I loved the post today. I had not heard of a piano being given for a wedding gift! A very interesting concept. Since we didn’t have a piano when I was a child, I was given music lessons on an instrument. It was much cheaper than buying a piano and then paying for those lessons. But I have always wished I could play a piano. I ended up taking organ lessons as an adult. Since I already knew music, it was leaning the organ and that was really hard. When we moved, I couldn’t find a new organ teacher so I quit playing and ended up giving the organ to a church!

  6. The 1950s was a very good time to be young and playing a piano! That’s when I did grow up, and I begged for piano lessons around age 8. A neighbor lady taught me a few basics, but I did not have formal piano lessons until I was 8 1/2 or 9. My first piano was a very old one that my parents got from a relative for only $15. It was an upright! Guess they needed the space since that family had 6 kids. After my parents knew that I was a serious piano student, I finally got my own brand-new piano at age 15. This one was a Kimball spinet, and it cost $1,500 back then. Nine years of lessons and theory classes prepared me for giving piano lessons for a nice supplementary income. Also, when I played flute in our high school band, it was very easy to learn quickly due to my musical background. Playing piano for my high school jazz band brings fond memories, too.

    As for wedding gifts in the 1950s, often a group of people from church or a group of relatives would pool their money to buy the newlyweds a sofa chair. Individual gifts would cost about $20 then, but now if I don’t spend at least $50 or $60 for a wedding gift, it looks chintzy compared to other gifts. At least the bridal couple doesn’t take the time to open their gifts at the wedding reception nowadays, so you don’t really know what the other gifts were. Money always pleases, but I prefer to buy a lasting gift that I will be remembered by when the bride uses it. The last gift I bought was one of those new red copper pans, which the bride uses almost daily, I hear. She was well-pleased and so was I.

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