Author Topic: Dating a Wurlitzer  (Read 2223 times)

Offline Rob A

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Dating a Wurlitzer
« on: November 21, 2011, 08:14:06 AM »
You can take a look at the EIA code on  the power transformer to get a very general idea. I have 2 later 200A's with the Wurlitzer logo's on the back, one transformer stamped 9th week of '81, the other is stamped 29th week of '79.   Of course Wurlitzer probably used whatever stock they had lying around, so while it is not a very accurate way to date, at least you can determine that it was produced after a certain week/year. 

Also same idea with the EIA code the back of the Vib pot.

Offline Paleophone

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Re: Dating a Wurlitzer
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2017, 11:32:51 AM »
Threads on this topic:

It is now clear that for all Wurlitzers from mid-1962 on, there are coded 8- or 5- digit date stamps on the wood of various parts of the Wurlitzer.  These may pre-date the assembly date of the instrument, but they are generally the latest and most accurate dates on the instrument.

The most reliably available and easiest-to-access coded date stamp is on the rear treble side of the main rail assembly, upside down, behind the damper arm rods.  You  will see a part number of "A-60-5" or, in many/all of the 1962-early 1968 examples, "A-60-2." The 8-digit stamp will be in the vicinity of that part number.

The other place an 8-digit stamp appears is on the keys themselves, usually repeated a couple of times on the far bass or far treble keys.  (There may also be part numbers or other need to find the specific one that follows this format.)  This date may be chronologically very close to the other one, or it might differ by days, weeks, or even close to a year, so it is most accurate to check both stamps.  There is no consistency to which stamp has the latest date.  The dates seem to have something to do with when those respective parts were manufactured or inspected, as opposed to when the instrument was finally assembled.

The code is YMMDDxxx.  (The last three digits are perhaps an employee code, but that has not been confirmed).  Sometimes a 5 digit code is found on the keybed, usually under the treble and or bass keys.  These numbers may not match each other, and they mean YMMDD.

We are used to seeing 2 or 4 digit codes for years, which perhaps why this code escaped detection for so long.  The "Y" is a single digit, meaning it does not tell you the decade in which the instrument was made.  A May 13, 1972 instrument will read 20513xxx, but so will one produced in 1982 on the same date.  So you need to know the general range of years your instrument was produced.  But as no instrument was made for more than a decade, this isn't really a problem.

100 (prototype):1954
110: Dec 1954-early 1955
112A: 1956
120: very late 1956 to 1961 or early 1962
700 (console): 1958 to 1961 or early 1962

There is usually a conventional, if abbreviated, date stamp on the wood of the 110 through 112.  With the 120, the most consistent dating I've found is a piece of handwritten masking tape hidden on the back of the reed bar.  There may be other stamps on the wood in certain cases.

Then the 8-digit code begins:
140/145/720: 1962-3
140B/145B/720B/146B/146: 1964-1968

200 (no A) series, including 203W: late 1968-late 1974
200A series, including 210, 270, and 200B: very late 1974- May 1983.

The German 201 and 300 were made in the early 1970s.  They have date stamps on them, but don't follow the 8-digit code.

***On one very early 1962 Wurlitzer, there is an indecipherable 6-digit stamp.  This seems to be a different code, perhaps one merely including year and week.

***Very rarely, you may find an anomalous code.  For example, the second and third digit should only have a range of "01" to "12",  The 4th and 5th digit should be a number from "01" to "31" that would correspond to the number of days in the matching month. 

Keep in mind that these numbers were on stamps that would be seen backwards by the people setting them up.  It wouldn't be too difficult to flip a few digits.  In the cases I've found one of these codes, it's usually decipherable by checking the other date codes on the piano.

Here's an example:

All other date stamps indicated this was a September-October 1967 instrument, but there was a stamp of "13907."  It appears this was DD-MM(backwards)-Y.  Human error.

***Instruments with date stamps that differ by more than a year have probably been Frankensteined together.  It is easy enough to replace a keybed.  In one case, I believe I found a 1970 main rail screwed into a 1962 model 140, with all the original action parts replaced.

« Last Edit: November 12, 2017, 12:55:58 PM by Paleophone »