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(1) George Jones: The most reliable source is Lachenal's near contemporary, George Smith Jones (1832-1919), himself a major concertina maker and author of the invaluable memoir, "Recollections of the English Concertina."1 His credentials as a witness could hardly have been bettered:2 … Wheatstone's—took great interest in him, and frequently sent him with messages to the firm. Skeats, whose service he entered with a view to apprenticeship,6 but he was compelled to leave after a few months, in consequence of his father thinking that the business would not be a success. Skeats, he had learnt the groundwork of reed-making and tuning … That his memory may sometimes have been at fault—as was often his spelling of names—can hardly be doubted.
At eight years of age he was an excellent performer on the French accordion,3 which was then becoming a very popular instrument. The other two sources are much further removed from the events of the 1840s–50s that I wish to examine, but nevertheless had close associations with the firm of Lachenal & Co. Both his grandfather John and his grand uncle Charles worked for Louis Lachenal (see Part 2, forthcoming).
Their Certificate of Arrival lists the occupation of all three as "watchmakers" (see Fig.
1).18 Louis Lachenal would then have been eighteen years old,19 and perhaps he too had been apprenticed as a watchmaker; certainly the Golay brothers were to follow that calling.
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The only trace of him in the meantime occurs in September 1841, when "Louis Lachenal of Fitchfield [sic] Street, Soho, Mechanic, and Antoine Vieyres, Watchmaker, of Pall Mall," took out a Patent for "machinery for cutting bottle corks."22 —In 1844 I commenced working for Mr. Certainly, instruments made in 1845 start to show evidence of new tooling,30 both in connection with the shoes (reed frames) and the actions (lever mechanisms).
Austin, who made the pans complete for Wheatstone, the inventor, all done by hand, outdoor;23 Mr. They exhibit two features that were to reappear later in instruments built by the Nickolds family.
)—"the workmanship required is less." This Patent is otherwise largely an attempt to prolong the life of Wheatstone's original Symphonium Patent of 1829,32 which had covered the principle—but not the specific details—of his yet-to-be-invented English concertina. Such "Improvement" Patents provided a "way in which a monopoly in an important invention [could] be kept alive after the patent ha[d] come to an end … The name "Nickold" appears on the very first page, drawing the sum of 17/6 (shillings/pence) and various such (low) amounts every following week; the largest sum he is paid for one week's work is £1.16.0 (pounds, shillings, pence) on both 2 and . Lachenal" appears only occasionally, and is paid larger sums: for example, £5.11.0 on 8 February 1845, £4.0.0 on 14 June 1845, and the enormous sum of £33.0.0 on 12 July 1845.
by patenting large numbers of minor improvements to the original invention …"33 It was evidently not successful, as most of Wheatstone's employees seem to have set up as concertina makers in their own right during the next fourteen years (the life of the patent), starting with Joseph Scates in 1844, the very year in which the patent was taken out.34 —[There] was difficulty in obtaining note screws.35 Lachenal … However, from 9 August 1845 (£2.6.0), payments to Lachenal become weekly and increasingly larger than those to Nickolds, rising to £7.18.0 by the end of the book, a year later. Lachenal for Men's Wages £7.5.0," while "Nickold" receives only £1.4.0.