Author Topic: Lowest Serial Number on an "L" plate ? Logan Plant?  (Read 1998 times)

Offline pgroff

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Lowest Serial Number on an "L" plate ? Logan Plant?
« on: November 24, 2016, 09:53:55 AM »
Hi all,

New forum member. Finally got myself a project Wurli this week, after decades since I last owned one, as a teenager in the 1970s when I played a 200 and a 200A in bars and for high school dances.

Great to read all the threads here - thanks again!

My topic: The discussions of Wurlitzer serial numbers and date codes that I've read so far don't mention the significance of the "L" printed on some metal number plates.

This description of Duke Ellington's 200A is a little contradictory, and lists some dates that now seem wrong -- but I'm interested in the  statement that the "L" number implies a connection to the Logan UT manufacturing plant:

http://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/search/object/nmah_1203041

Here's a newspaper report from March, 1970 about Wurlitzer's new plant opening in Logan:
http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1970/03/28/page/126/article/wurlitzer-will-build-plant-in-logan-utah

It looks like the DeKalb plant stopped manufacturing a couple of years later (dates in 1972 and 1973 are listed in various sources).

Here's an archival photo of the Logan plant (according to the caption, this was open from 1970 - 1984):
http://digital.lib.usu.edu/cdm/ref/collection/p16944coll23/id/31

If the "L" plates indicate a piano that was made or at least finally assembled in the Logan plant, here are my questions:

What's the earliest serial number on an "L" plate?

And how much do those numbers overlap with the numbers on plates without an "L" ?

Thanks,

PG









« Last Edit: November 24, 2016, 09:56:49 AM by pgroff »

Offline DocWurly (formerly Paleophone)

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Re: Lowest Serial Number on an "L" plate ? Logan Plant?
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2016, 10:32:25 AM »
Wow.  If you are right on this, how cool is that??!!  and I bet you are.

I have encountered a 200 with serial number 63248, no L, pretty sure.
and serial number 65880L, another 200.  I wasn't checking for dates yet.

Serial number 71210 is a 203W (home console with wheels) which has no "L".  (I caught it on Ebay).  That's the latest serial number I can confirm with no "L", except for a 106P, #87733, which had a different kind of serial plate. But there are vast gaps, in the 1000s, to the numbers I've catalogued.

Offline DocWurly (formerly Paleophone)

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Re: Lowest Serial Number on an "L" plate ? Logan Plant?
« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2016, 10:34:01 AM »
and then... what does it mean if a serial number has a "P" on the end?  I've only seen this on two 112A's, #7006P and #7200.

Offline pgroff

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Re: Lowest Serial Number on an "L" plate ? Logan Plant?
« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2016, 10:41:06 AM »
Hi Paleophone,

Thanks for your reply - and thanks for your great contribution. Really appreciate your site (and I commented there). I'm just trying to add a couple of tentative ideas to your work. 

All the best,

PG

Offline DocWurly (formerly Paleophone)

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Re: Lowest Serial Number on an "L" plate ? Logan Plant?
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2016, 11:50:21 AM »
Thanks for your appreciation!!

It's impossible that Duke Ellington owned that particular Wurli, by the way.  He died in May 1974.  The 200A's probably didn't even hit the stores until later in that year (if not early 1975); and one with a serial number that high, 129394L, would have been from around 1978-79. (#106563L is from August 1976, and 133952L is from August 8, 1979).  A 1974 200A would have had a serial number somewhere between 86XXX or 88XXX (I'll probably be able to be more exact on that in a year or two).

If he used a portable Wurli at all on the road in his final years, it would have been a 200.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2016, 01:18:44 PM by Paleophone »

Offline pgroff

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Re: Lowest Serial Number on an "L" plate ? Logan Plant?
« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2016, 04:20:55 PM »
Goes to show that oral history based on the memories of owners and their families is often unreliable. I've seen that with other kinds of instruments that I've researched. It's great to find evidence right in the instrument as you have done by tabulating and correlating the date codes. Maybe the original Duke Wurly was traded for this one at some point & the complete story was not conveyed when this one was given to the museum.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2016, 04:22:45 PM by pgroff »

Offline pianotuner steveo

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Re: Lowest Serial Number on an "L" plate ? Logan Plant?
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2016, 07:55:54 PM »
I've never heard of the ep's being built in the Logan plant, but who knows? Remember, Wurlitzer had pianos, organs, jukeboxes, Ep's and more.
1960 Wurlitzer model 700 EP
1968 Gibson G101 Combo organ
1975 Rhodes Piano Bass
1979 Wurlitzer 206A EP
1980 Wurlitzer 200A EP
1980 Wurlitzer 270 Butterfly Grand
2000 Yamaha acoustic piano
2004 Hammond XK3
2009 73A Rhodes Mark 7
2009 Korg SV-1 73
....and a few guitars...

Offline cinnanon

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Re: Lowest Serial Number on an "L" plate ? Logan Plant?
« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2016, 09:31:56 PM »
Goes to show that oral history based on the memories of owners and their families is often unreliable. I've seen that with other kinds of instruments that I've researched. It's great to find evidence right in the instrument as you have done by tabulating and correlating the date codes. Maybe the original Duke Wurly was traded for this one at some point & the complete story was not conveyed when this one was given to the museum.

Makes you wonder what other kinds of things in museums are falsified

Offline alenhoff

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Re: Lowest Serial Number on an "L" plate ? Logan Plant?
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2016, 08:22:23 AM »
Makes you wonder what other kinds of things in museums are falsified

A few years ago, I visited an exhibit on Detroit music (underwritten by Kid Rock) at the Detroit Historical Museum.  It included a Rhodes Suitcase piano, which it described as having been used by Earl Van Dyke, a mainstay of the house band at Motown, during Motown's peak years in the 1960s.  It was a Mark II.  I found a museum curator and pointed out that a Mark II could not have been built until at least late 1979, and also mentioned that it was set up backwards.  (The amp/speaker cab was set up with the sustain pedal facing the audience, rather than the player.)

The curator seemed annoyed that anyone would question their wisdom. I wonder if the display changed at all.

Alan

1974 Rhodes Mark I Stage 73
1972 Rhodes Silver Sparkletop Piano Bass
1978 Hohner Clavinet D6
1968 Hohner Pianet N II
1966 Wurlitzer 140B
1967 Gibson G101 combo organ
1965 UK Vox Continental
1954 Hammond B2; Leslie 21H; Leslie 31H
1977 Fender Twin Reverb
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(SEE THE COLLECTION: https://vintagerockkeyboards.com/ )

Offline pgroff

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Re: Lowest Serial Number on an "L" plate ? Logan Plant?
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2016, 09:17:40 AM »
Hi cinnanon & alenhoff

I've had experiences like Alan's sometimes too. But as someone who's worked in research collections at times, in my experience most curators are interested in correcting their information. But of course they have to trust the source, or have good evidence. With musical instruments made over the past hundred years or so it's interesting that amateur experts sometimes know a lot more than museum curators.

I bet the curators at the Smithsonian would accept proof that their 200A is too recent to be Duke's, and try to correct their records, if Paleophone were to contact them. As I mentioned in the OP, there are other inconsistencies in the information that they posted about this instrument. Wonder where they learned though that "L" indicates Logan?

PG

Offline pgroff

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Re: Lowest Serial Number on an "L" plate ? Logan Plant?
« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2016, 09:19:19 AM »
I've never heard of the ep's being built in the Logan plant, but who knows? Remember, Wurlitzer had pianos, organs, jukeboxes, Ep's and more.

Hi pianotuner steveo,

What has been the usual story about location of manufacture of the electric pianos, after the DeKalb plant closed down ca. 1972-1973?

http://dtburkett.com/Dekalb/wurlitzer-piano/

PG

Edited to add: Here's a discussion of the other plants, that doesn't exactly specify in which of them (and when) the EPs were made. But I have seen early Wurly logos with "Corinth MS" printed on them:

"With the decline of sales during the 1920's and 1930's, production of automatic musical
instruments ceased until the manufacture of the first juke box in 1934.  For a brief time, radios
and refrigerators were made by the Wurlitzer controlled All-American Mohawk Corporation.  It
was not a successful venture and ended in the mid-1930's.  Many of the Wurlitzer retail stores
were, at that time, in bad locations and needed repairs.  The solutions to these problems came
about with a reorganization of the company in 1935.  With the reorganization, many retail stores
were sold, piano manufacturing was consolidated in DeKalb and many subsidiaries were
dissolved or absorbed completely into the Wurlitzer Company.During World War II, Wurlitzer halted production of musical instruments.  The company’s defense production efforts were recognized in 1943 and 1944 when its North Tonawanda and DeKalb plants received the Army-Navy “E” Award. 
In 1946, peacetime production resumed and the Wurlitzer Company introduced two new instruments: the electric organ (1947) and the electric piano (1954).In 1956, the Wurltizer Company celebrated its centennial.  That same year a new plant at Corinth, Mississippi, was completed.  Later, plants were opened in Holly Springs, Mississippi(1961), Logan, Utah (1970) and Hullhorst, West Germany (1960).  The new facilities replaced those at North Tonawanda and DeKalb.  The North Tonawanda plant ceased production of juke boxes in 1974, becoming the company’s engineering and research center.  In 1973, the DeKalb plant ended production of pianos maintaining only marketing and administrative offices.  In 1977, the Wurlitzer Company’s corporate headquarters moved to DeKalb, including the engineering and research center from North Tonawanda."

source: https://www.ulib.niu.edu/reghist/RC%20169.pdf
« Last Edit: November 25, 2016, 01:14:40 PM by pgroff »

Offline DocWurly (formerly Paleophone)

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Re: Lowest Serial Number on an "L" plate ? Logan Plant?
« Reply #11 on: November 26, 2016, 01:27:57 PM »
My Wurlitzer 200A, serial #133952L, has an upside-down sticker on the main rail referring to Holly Springs, Mississippi.  I would not assume that means it was actually assembled there, but there's some data for ya. 

Interestingly, these are different and later patent numbers than those listed on the serial badge, which wasn't updated after the 140 badge of mid-1962!!
« Last Edit: November 26, 2016, 02:23:44 PM by Paleophone »

Offline pianotuner steveo

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Re: Lowest Serial Number on an "L" plate ? Logan Plant?
« Reply #12 on: November 27, 2016, 09:39:06 AM »
I'm pretty sure it was in Mississippi, but the people who would know for sure would be the fine folks at Morelock's. I believe they are located near the plant, and that Mark worked at the plant, then bought the parts inventory when it closed.
1960 Wurlitzer model 700 EP
1968 Gibson G101 Combo organ
1975 Rhodes Piano Bass
1979 Wurlitzer 206A EP
1980 Wurlitzer 200A EP
1980 Wurlitzer 270 Butterfly Grand
2000 Yamaha acoustic piano
2004 Hammond XK3
2009 73A Rhodes Mark 7
2009 Korg SV-1 73
....and a few guitars...

Offline Tim Hodges

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Re: Lowest Serial Number on an "L" plate ? Logan Plant?
« Reply #13 on: February 28, 2017, 11:08:56 AM »
Just found this thread. I remember a long time ago someone was selling what was supposed to be Duke Ellington's Wurlitzer on eBay. If I remember correctly it was a black 200 with all the accessories, cases for both the piano and the stool and it was in perfect condition, can't remember if it had a certificate of authenticity but it certainly seemed to be the real deal back then.

This must have been over 10 years ago now and I can't find anything to do with it online, but I do remember it was very expensive.

Considering it was the grandchildren that gave the piano to the museum perhaps they confused it with the this 200 their grandfather owned. All hypothetical of course as none of this can be proved now.

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Offline DocWurly (formerly Paleophone)

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Re: Lowest Serial Number on an "L" plate ? Logan Plant?
« Reply #14 on: December 11, 2018, 06:39:23 PM »
So!  Since Paul opened this thread, I've collected a lot more data on 1972 Wurlies.

Some have "L's."  Some don't.  There is no strict cutoff or crossover point from one to the other.  And, using the parts date stamps inside, it would appear that there's a lot of atypical zigzagging of dates vs serial numbers going on.  I think they were allotting ranges of serial numbers for different instrument models, and maybe even different locations.

Examples:

64206 (no L) 206 (Black, may not be original color) August 19, 1972
65880L  200 Black  (date unknown, lowest "L" serial number I've seen.  I would take a wild guess that it's from later 1971.)
66317L 200 Forest Green Jan 4, 1972
67089L 206 Beige April 5, 1972
67845 (no L) 214 (Avocado Green) (date unknown)
69327L 200 November 8, 1972
70362 (no L) 207V Beige May 4, 1972
71210 (no L) 203W Black (date unknown)  This is the latest "no L" number I know as of today.
74027 L 200 Black (date unknown) (earliest "L" number I know of after the no-L's completely stop for 7-8 years)
74224 L 206 Beige May 7, 1973 

see?  kinda random.

There is a similar randomness in 1980, where the "no L" serial numbers return, with certain weird models (200B's, 215V's), with a parallel lack of chronology.

I don't know if the plant changes were a factor in this, but it appears that 1972 was the last year of Red and Forest Green 200's.





« Last Edit: December 11, 2018, 06:55:49 PM by DocWurly (formerly Paleophone) »

Offline DocWurly (formerly Paleophone)

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Re: Lowest Serial Number on an "L" plate ? Logan Plant?
« Reply #15 on: January 17, 2019, 01:16:18 AM »
I may be wrong about 1972 being the last year of Forest Green Wurlies.  (someone claimed to have one from 1974.)

I started checking out serial number ranges, year by year, for the 200 and 200A series.  I need more data, but based on date stamps, it looks like they were manufacturing an average of 3000 Wurlies a year in 1968, '69, 70, and '71.  Then, starting in 1972, the number seems to jump to around 10,000 a year being produced (give or take 1000), until around 1980, when the numbers dropped again.

This may not be entirely accurate.  I have no sense of when Musitronic began producing licensed classroom Wurlies, and what that would have done to the numbers.  And there may be gaps in the serial numbers.

But, still, I think I'm on the right track here.  The Logan plant apparently allowed for greater production.












Offline DoctorTeeth

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Re: Lowest Serial Number on an "L" plate ? Logan Plant?
« Reply #16 on: February 16, 2019, 02:58:50 PM »
My tan top 200 has an “L plate” 65733L. Its dated may 19th 1971 in the keybed.

Offline DocWurly (formerly Paleophone)

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Re: Lowest Serial Number on an "L" plate ? Logan Plant?
« Reply #17 on: March 03, 2019, 01:13:12 PM »
Well, that's the earliest so far.  It would be great to know ALL keystamps in that one.  Transformer, 8-digit action rail and 8-digit keys, even speakers.