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O.K. Houck Piano Co – Vose Pianos – Steinway Pianos – Memphis, TN

Music Trade Review - digitized by support by namm dot org

Music Trade Review - digitized by support by namm dot org

Overlooking the Mississippi River © Frank H. Jump

O.K. Houck Piano Co. - Everything in Music- Overlooking the Mississippi River © Frank H. Jump

Steinway Pianos © Frank H. Jump

Steinway Pianos © Frank H. Jump

Vose Pianos © Frank H. Jump

Vose Pianos © Frank H. Jump

Overlooking the Mississippi River © Frank H. Jump

Overlooking the Mississippi River © Frank H. Jump

During the mid 1950s through the mid 1960s when Memphis, Tennessee appeared to be the virtual center of Rock ‘n Roll, Soul and R&B talent, the O.K. Houck Piano Co. was the premier dealer in the area where almost everyone bought their instruments.

Tennessee Centennial Prize March by Maurice Bernhardt 1897 O. K. Houck & Co. publication  - Scotty Moore dot net

Tennessee Centennial Prize March by Maurice Bernhardt 1897 O. K. Houck & Co. publication - Scotty Moore dot net

James W. Vose was born on October 21, 1818. He became a cabinetmaker, then learned the piano making trade from various Boston area piano factories. In 1851 he made his first piano, starting his own business. He had three sons, and all of them learned the business, and joined their father as partners in the firm. At this time, he renamed it Vose & Sons. The business was incorporated in 1889, with the Vose family holding the entire stock. Eventually, the American Piano Company purchased the firm, and used the Vose name until 1982.

According to Spillane’s History of the American Pianoforte (printed in 1890):

“Vose & Sons came into existence in 1851 in Boston, and therefore bear the distinction of being a very old piano-makers. J. W. Vose, the founder and senior member of this firm, is a native of Milton, Mass., the birthplace of Crehore, where he was born in 1818. He served an old-fashioned apprentice course in Milton and Boston, first learning cabinet-making. At twenty, he became a piano-maker. Later he acquired a varied experience in various Boston shops, subsequently founding his business in the year indicated. The Vose & Sons piano of to-day contains all the standard improvements, besides specialties originated by the firm. It is a popular instrument, and has a large following of admirers in the musical profession throughout the States. The firm of Vose & Sons is made up of Mr. J. W. Vose, the founder, Mr. Willard A. Vose, born in 1852, Mr. Irving B. Vose, born in 1850, and Mr. Julien W. Vose, born in 1859, all practical piano-makers, and graduates of good educational institutions in Boston.”

One of America’s most distinguished pianos. The “Vose” piano has sustained itself in the respect of musicians and the admiration of the public through Mr. James W Vose, recognized as one of the greatest presidents of the many great piano manufacturing concerns of the country. From the first the career of the Vose piano has been steadily gaining until it has reached a position ranking among the foremost pianos of the world. The “Vose” pianos of today are marked by a distinct originality of case designs, careful and most thorough construction, and musical effects of the most satisfactory character. They are pianos whose characters are of a kind to attract the attention of people of refinement and good taste.


  1. Jane Arnold says:

    Hello. My mother-in-law passed away in 2002 and she left an upright piano that had belonged to her grandmother. It took my husband and I quite a while to figure out what words the lettering along the inside top of the cabinet said, due to the fact that they look to be calligraphy, but we think we finally have it right this time.

    The metal lettering says “Grand Overstrung Scale Material and Workmanship Fully Guaranteed” then below and to the right it reads “O K Houck Piano Company” followed by names of these cities : Memphis, Little Rock, S. Louis, Nashville and Chattanooga.

    There are also a couple of other markings that appear to have been stamped on to the wood, and another set of numbers that appear to be embossed into the wood.

    The embossing reads : ‘12950 and can be seen in the wood on both end peices inside the cabinet. Beneath the metalwork that bears the name O.K Hourk there is another stamp that reads : K#68907. Right below this, a small little stamping reads : International pitch c 517.3.

    We have been searching desparately for more information on this piano, which is how I ran across your site. I sincerely hope you may be able to offer some more information. We will most likely have to have some of the hammers fixed, a few strings replaced and the piano tuned, but we don’t even know what we have on our hands much less how to get started with refurbishing it–if it even is worth refurbishing.

    Thank you SO much for taking a moment to help and share any advice and further information on this piano! Please feel free to email me at jnjarnold@aol.com–I look forward to hearing back from you soon!
    Jane Arnold

  2. Diann Newsome says:

    I have an unright piano that the backplate days: This piano contains the Vose patent key-base, patented August 20, 1902. 60704 on lower titlt out board. It has all the original ivory keys and the hammers and strings. I would like some information if you can help me to know what it is worth. Thank you, Diann Newsome

  3. Ronald Smith says:

    Didn’t this company have a Union address during the 1950’s? Could you tell me what it was?

  4. Ronald Smith says:

    Does anyone have a copy “The General Forrest March” published by O. K. Houck? This was in about 1861-62.

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