A rare 100-year-old Steinway player piano that belonged to a prominent family in St. John's is now available for purchase.

Piano restorer Karim Dannawy, who rescued the Steinway, said the vintage piano is a rare find.

"We know of one other Steinway piano that's come for sale in the last 20 years, and that was in New Zealand. So we know that [it] is very rare in the world over," he said.

"It was in a storage container we found out in St. John's, and we knew we wanted to bring it back to [life]."


Karim Dannawy, who repaired and restored the Steinway, says he hopes the player piano will stay in the province. (CBC)

In August 1913 — exactly 100 years ago — the world-class piano was shipped from the Steinway factory in Hamburg, Germany to London, England.

It was then sold and later sent across the Atlantic Ocean to arrive in St. John's. The Bowring Brothers, well-known, wealthy business owners, bought the piano.

"It was the entertainment of the day," Dannawy said. "It was the predecessor to [the] gramophone and phonograph, and even the modern car, so to have something like this, it was pretty fancy."

Over the past few decades, the player piano has been auctioned off to a number of different owners.

It eventually ended up in Dannawy's workshop, where it was carefully taken apart for repairs.

"It barely sounded as a piano, and some notes were not functioning," Dannawy said. "Pianos are like a car in some sense —  you park it and don't use it, then it's going to have some parts that are seized up."

The piano was stripped down to its 50,000 pieces. The 300-pound cast iron frame had to be lifted out with an engine hoist.

After five months of hard work of reassembling all of the pieces, it was ready to make music again.

Keeping a rare instrument on the island

Dannawy wants to find a buyer in the province, who can afford the $41,000 price tag.

"We know it's the only one on the island, and to see it leave the island after it was brought here, that would be sad for us," he said.

"The value of a piano like this is $60,000 on [the] international market. We're hoping the lower price with [be an] incentive [for] someone to keep it here. This really does belong here in Newfoundland."