Chickering, Jonas

1798-1853

The pioneer in American pianobuilding and founder of the house that has done so much to make the American piano famous. He was born at Ipswich, New Hampshire, was apprenticed to a cabinetmaker there, and early displayed an interest in music and musical instruments. When the one piano in his native town got out of order he offered to tune it and put it  in repair, his success in this attempt encouraging him to turn to piano construction. He went to Boston and secured employment under Mr. John Osborn, at that time the only piano manufacturer there, learned the details of the work and showed much interest in the development of piano-making. For awhile he was associated in this development with a Scotchman named James Stewart, but in 1823 he set up in business for himself, and from this time dates the founding of the house of Chickering and Sons. In 1837 he patented an important improvement, added others in 1843 and 1845; which inventions, says Elson, made the American piano the most durable in the world. On Jonas' death, which occurred at Boston, he was succeeded by his son, Colonel Thomas E. Chickering, born in Boston in 1823, died in that city in 1871. Numerous important developments in piano-building were introduced by the Chickenngs. Of the many notable prizes earned, mention may be made of first award won at the Paris Exposition of 1867, at which time Colonel Chickering was created Chevalier of the Legion of Honor.