Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/732

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720

��PIANOFORTE.

��PIANOFORTE.

��the tuning, and another problem, ' compensation,' received even more attention than 'resistance' had done. To solve this a young Scotch tuner, named Allen, employed at Stodart's, set himself; and with the fervour proverbial in the youth of his country, he soon succeeded in producing a complete and satisfactory upper framing of hollow tubes in combination with plates of iron and brass, bound together by stout wooden crossbars, the whole intended to bear the pull of Fl - 13>

the strings, and to meet, by give-and- take, the variations in the length of the wires, due to altera- tion of temperature. The patent (No. 4431 ) was taken out by William Allen and James Thorn (who supplied the necessary technical knowledge of piano- forte making) ; it is dated Jan. 15,1820, and the exclusive right to use it was acquired by Messrs. Stodart to the great advantage of their business. The ac- companying dia- gram of a Stodart pianoforte with Allen's framing, shows the aim and completeness of this remarkable invention, from the inventor's point of view.

But tension soon asserted itself as more im- portant than compensation, and a rigid counter- poise to it by means of metal still presented itself as the problem for solution to James Broad- wood, who had, years before, initiated the idea ; and we learn from Mr. Henry Fowler Broadwood ('Times,' May 10, 1851) that Samuel Herve, a workman em ployed by his father, in vented in 1821 the fixed stringplate, in that year first applied to a Square piano of Broadwood's. From 1822 to 1827 James Broadwood tried various combinations of the stringplate and tension bars, and in the latter year permanently adopted a system of solid metal bracing (Patent No. 5485). The tension bars not having been patented had been adopted by other makers, and in 1825 Pierre Erard had in his turn patented a means of fixing the tension bars to the wooden braces beneath the soundboard by bolts passing through holes cut in the sound- board (Patent No. 5065). There is no mention of a stringplate in this patent, but a proposition is made to strengthen the case by plating it with sheet iron, which however came to nothing.

The William Allen who had invented Stodart's compensating framing did not rest satisfied with his first success, but in vented, and in 1831 patented (No. 6140), a cast-iron frame to combine string- plate, tension bars, and wrestplank in one casting. Wooden bars were let into the wrestplank to

��� ��receive the ordinary tuning-pins, which would not conveniently work in metal. This important invention did not find the acceptance which it deserved, and the compound metal and wood framing continued to be preferred in Europe under the idea that it was beneficial to the tone. But Allen's proposal of one casting had been anticipated in America by Alpheus Babcock of Boston, U.S., who in 1825 patented a cast- iron frame for a Square piano. The object of this frame, like that of Allen's first patent, was compensation. It failed, but Babcock's single casting laid the foundation of a system of con- struction which has been largely and successfully developed in America. Besides Allen and Bab- cock, who in those days of imperfect communica- tion are hardly likely to have known of each other's attempts, Conrad Meyer * of Philadelphia claims to have invented the metal frame in a single casting in 1832. Whether Meyer was aware of the previous efforts of Allen and Bab- cock or not, he has the merit of having made a good Square piano on this plan of construction in 1833. The frame of it is represented below. This instrument, which the writer saw and tried at Paris in 1878, was exhibited when first made at the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, and was sold ; but Messrs. Meyer bought it back in 1867 and exhibited it in the Centennial Exhibition in 1876, and again, as mentioned, in the Universal Exhibition of Paris in 1878. JONAS CHICKERING of Boston in 1837 improved the single casting by including in it the pinbridge, and damper socket- rail, a construction which he patented in 1840. Chickering subsequently de- vised a complete frame for grand pianos in one casting, and exhibited two so made at the Great Exhibition of 1851. On the same occasion Lichten- thal of St. Petersburg exhibited two grand pianos ' overstrung,' that is, with the longest ba spun-strings' 2 stretched oblique ly over the longest unspun one a method that is now very we known and extensively adopt but the advantages of whie have hitherto been impaired 1 inequality in the scale, invention of overstringing had more than one claimant, amongst others the ingenious HENRY PAPE. We have found no earlier date for it than 1835, when THEOBALD BOEHM, well known in connection with the flute, con- trived an overstrung square, and an overstrung cottage piano, and had them made in Lon- don by Gerock of Cornhill. In the next year, 1836, John Godwin patented (No. 7021) over-

1 A native of Marburg. Hesse Cassel, who emigrated to Baltln in 1819, and In 1S23 set up in business as a pianoforte-maker in Phil delphia. Mr. Meyer and his sons were still carrying on the busine in 1879.

2 'Spun, or overspun. strings' are surrounded with an exter coll of fine wire, to add to their weight and power of tone.

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