From The Blog Of Ric Overton...

Who was Chickering?

Jonas Chickering was born in Mason Village, New Hampshire in April of 1798 to Abner Chickering  who was a farmer and a blacksmith.  He originally worked as an apprentice to a cabinet maker and in 1818 moved to Boston to continue his work. This lasted for about one year until he ran into John Osborn on Orange Street and began working for him as a piano maker. In 1823, Chickering and James Stewart entered a partnership and began making pianos under the name Stewart and Chickering.  They made 15 pianos that first year which sold for around $275.00

Chickering Square Grand Piano

Blog by PianoSD.com

Stewart & Chickering dissolved after four years, and in 1830 Chickering started working  with John Mackay who had a piano store and also made organs and piano.  John had also worked with Alpheus Babcock who was doing business as Chickering and Company at  416 Washington Street.  In 1837 Chickering & Mackays along with Mackay’s son William H. Mackay built a new five story factory.  The factory had a retail store and a  concert hall, at 334 Washington Street.

John Mackay passed away in 1841 so Chickering mortgaged the factory and bought out the remaining shares from Mackay’s family which he paid out over time. On December 1, 1852 the factory burned putting over 200 people out of work and a sustained loss of over $250,000.00.  All of the tools and patters were lost and according to reports say that one of the first overtstrung pianos was lost in the fire too. Chickering then began to rebuild a new “state of the art” steam powered factory according to Mr. Chickering’s specifcations. This new factory was located at  791 Tremont Street.

 

Sadly, Chickering died before the new factory was completed in December of 1853.   His death was important to the city of Boston that there was almost 1000 people at his funeral and the mayor even ordered the city’s churches to ring their bells out of respect.  By 1853, Chickering had manufactured more than 12,000 pianos and was building more than 100 a month with sales of over almost $10,000.00 a month. The might Chickering Piano display at the London International Exhibition of 1851 earned a gold medal.  The also got  special mention for their grand pianos noted for brilliancy and power. Chickering had many patents which included: single piece iron frames,along with wrest plank bridges and damper guides in square pianos, wrest plank terminations in grands as wel as several others. Chickering & Mackays also had control of an action patented created by Alpheus Babcock and they also had control of  licensed actions patents by Edwin Brown and George Howe. Chickering made curved hammer strike lines in square grands which permitted larger hammers.  Chickering is also said to have helped Ichabod Washburn  develop the first piano wire that was made in the United States.

Chickering Concert Grand Piano for Ric Overton blog of PianoSD.com

Chickering Concert Grand Piano for Ric Overton blog of PianoSD.ocm

Among many of his musical accomplishment Chickering, Henry W. Pickering and Edward Frothingborn helped to form the society which was responsible for erecting the Boston Music Hall which was built in 1852.  There were four children: Thomas Chickering, C. Frank Chickering, George H. Chickering, and Anna Chickering. Who all worked as pianomakers and partners in the company forming Chickering and Sons.

Although Chickering was purchased by Gibson several years ago and ceased production, Chickering remains one of my favorite pianos.  Its clarity of sound and very smooth action is incredible.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed.

Ric Overton of http://PianoSD.com via http://MaxMorganDesign.com

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