These pianos became popular in the 1700's because they were easy to make and affordable for most middle class families. They are somewhere between a traditional harpsichord and normal piano.
I think they should make a come back! Why couldn't they be a great alternative to middle class families now? If they were inexpensive to make once they could be again, with the right people of course. Why should we limit this beautiful style of piano just to museums and well to do living rooms where they are so out of tune and damaged many of them can not even be played? I think we are ready for them. In these economic times, people are downsizing their homes and getting ride of the theories that bigger is better. We could use a smaller piano along with smaller cars and smaller debt. Wouldn't a piano like the one below look fabulous in a more modern home? This is one of the earliest style of this piano and I love it the most for it's small size and clean lines.
True, there are some draw backs to box pianos. Most box piano's only have 60 keys, their sound and touch is lighter than a normal piano, and they are limited to only one or two actions. Near the end of the 1800's box pianos started to become too big with the new style of grand box pianos, I hear they were hard to tune too.
I, for one, think that the style and look out weigh these negatives and only wish a piano maker would start a new line of these pianos. I would be first in line to buy one. I wish I was talented enough to make them myself. I told Jeff the other day that if I thought I had the talents to choose any job I wanted, I would be a carpenter who made furniture. Making a box piano might be even better than that. For now, I guess these awesome pianos will just be a dream, until I have the funds to buy one of my own antique box pianos.