William Southwell's Square Pianoforte Patent of 1794 (No. 2019)
The National Archives, UK, C210/47

Patent Drawing1

1794 patent drawing

Transcription of the Specification from the Patent Rolls

[New lines in the original document are indicated by  ‘/’ ]

Folio 1:

William Southwell Specification /
of his invention /
To all those to whom these presents shall come /
I William Southwell late of Great Marlborough /
Street in the City of Dublin in the Kingdom of Ireland but now /
of Lad Lane London Musical Instrument Maker Send Greeting /
Whereas his most Excellent Majesty King George the Third did /
by his Royal Letters Patent under the Great Seal of Great Britain bearing /
date at Westminster the Eighteenth day of October in the thirty fourth year of /
his Reign gave and grant unto me the said William Southwell my Executors /
Administrators and Assigns his said Majestys [sic] special license full power sole /
priviledge and Authority that I the said William Southwell my Executors /
Administrators and Assigns and every of them by myself and themselves or by /
my and their Deputy and Deputies Servants or Agents or such others as I /
the said William Southwell my Executors Administrators or Assigns /
should at any time agree with and no others from time to time and at all /
times thereafter during the Term of fourteen years therein expressed /
should and lawfully might make use Exercise and vend my Invention of /
several Improvements in the construction of the musical Instruments called a /
Piano Forte by which Improvements the Tones of such Instruments are /
rendered more distinct and perfect and the Players playing on such /
Instruments have a power to produce the Gradation of Tones from Piano to /
Forte with Greater Effect than they were able at the then present to produce /
the same and an additional number of Keys might be put to such /
Instruments in a new manner upon a better construction than such Keys /
could be put to Piano Fortes at the then present within that part of the /
Kingdom of Great Britain called England the Dominion of Wales and /
Town of Berwick upon Tweed in such manner as to me the said /
William Southwell my Executors Administrators and Assigns or any of /
them should in my or their Descretions [sic] seem meet In which said Letters /
patent there is contained a provisoe [sic] that if I the said William Southwell /
should not particularly describe and ascertain the nature of the said /
Invention and in what manner the same was to be performed by an /
Instrument in writing under my Hand and Seal and cause the same to /
be enrolled in his Majestys [sic] High Court of Chancery within one Calendar /
Month next and immediately after the Date of the said Letters patent /
that then the said Letters Patent and all Libertys [sic] and Advantages /
whatsoever thereby Granted should utterly cease determine and become void /
and thing therein before contained to the Contrary thereof in any wise /
notwithstanding as in and by the said Letters Patent Reference being /
thereto had may more fully and at large appear /
Now Know Ye that /
in compliance with the said Provisoe and Letters patent I the said William /
Southwell do hereby declare that the nature of the said Invention and /
the manner in which the same is to be performed is particularly described /
and ascertained as follows (that is to say) It consists first of a new /
mode of using the Dampers in Piano Fortes which new mode is as follows /
a small wire marked A in the Drawing hereon written of the length of three /
Inches [inserted:] a [then:] little more or less is at its Bottom screwed in a Button of wood /
or other material marked B in the same Drawing about half an Inch high /
little more or less which Button of wood is at its bottom Glewed [sic] or /
otherwise fastened to a thin piece of Leather or other material and which /
Leather or other material is at its bottom Glewed to the Key marked C /
of the said Instrument near the Hammer End of such Key, the Damper /
which is made of Wood or other material and lined with cloath [sic] or other /

Folio 2:
Material (but which Damper in itself is not new and the mode /
of using which only is new) is fixed to the upper part of the wire /
AThis wire A passes between the Strings of each Separate note and /
acts in a Slip of wood or Socket marked D which is fastened to /
the Edges of the Back Block which Slip of wood or Socket has a /
round hole covered with Leather (or other material) for the said /
wire to act in so that the Damper is raised by the Act of playing /
and the vibration is stopped by the Damper falling down on the /
Strings by the weight of the Key. The Invention consists secondly in /
a new manner of putting additional Keys to the treble of the /
Instruments and upon a better construction than heretofore /
used the additional Keys at that part of them where they are /
touched and played upon by the finger of the performer /
stand in the same line with the other Keys but they act in /
another compartment of the Instrument under the Sounding /
Board at E and occasion a new Order of Strings at F of /
Hammers at G of Keys at H and of Pinblock at I these /
Keys are Divided from the other Keys towards and at the /
End thereof by a Partition under the Sounding Board. K. /
they pass under, the Hole L is made in the Sounding Board /
for the purpose of the Hammers which Strike the Strings /
there freely playing up and down and the Bridge M over which /
all the Strings of the said Instrument passes, is so constructed /
as to carry both Orders of Strings and the Pinblock for such /
Additional Strings is cut out of the back of the Instrument /
for the purpose of not encroaching on the Sounding Board /
The nature of this Invention and of these several Improvements /
and in what manner the same are to be performed are /
further particularly described and ascertained in and by /
the Drawings or figures contained on this piece of parchment /
and the Explanation and References above mentioned which refer /
to the Drawings or figures – Letter A the wire above mentioned /
Bthe Button or piece of Wood, C the Key, D the Slip of Wood /
or Socket which is fastened to the Pinblock, E Sounding Board, /
FNew Order of Strings, G Hammers, H Keys, I Pinblock, K /
Sounding Board, L Hole, M the Bridge – The whole appearance /
of the Instrument is drawn in the large Figure N. In witness whereof /
I the said William Southwell have hereunto set my hand and seal /
the Third Day of November in the Year of our Lord one thousand /
seven hundred and ninety-four /
Wm Southwell (L S)

And be it Remembered that on the same third day /
of November in the year above written the aforesaid William Southwell /
came before our Lord the King in His Chancery and acknowledged /
the Specification aforesaid and all and every thing therein contained /
in form above written. And also the Specification aforesaid was /
stamped according to the tenor of the Statute in that case made /
and provided — /
Inrolled the Seventh day of /
November in the year above written /
[In the left margin:] Jno Springer



[Transcribed by Margaret and Michael Debenham; and by George Bozarth (versions cross-checked), 2008]


1 First published in George S Bozarth and Margaret Debenham; ‘Piano Wars: the Legal Machinations of London Pianoforte Makers, 1795-1806’ in The Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle Vol. 42 (2009). London: Royal Musical Association, 56.
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