William Southwell's Pianoforte Patent of 1811 (No. 3403)
The National Archives, UK, C54/8881

Patent Drawing

1811 patent drawing

Transcription of the Specification from the Patent Rolls

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

Folio 1

To all to whom these presents shall come /
I William Southwell
of Gresse Street Rathbone Place /
in the County of Middlesex piano forte maker send greeting /
Whereas his most excellent Majesty King George the /
third did by his letters patent under the Great Seal of /
the United Kingdom bearing date at Westminster the fourth /
day of March in the fifty first year of our reign give and /
grant unto me the said William Southwell my exors /
Admors and Assigns his especial licence full [inserted:] power [then:] sole privilege /
and authority that I the said William Southwell my /
exors admors and assigns should and lawfully might /
during the term of years therein mentioned make use /
exercise and vend within England Wales and the town /
of Berwick upon Tweed my invention of certain /
improvements in the construction of a piano forte /
In which said Letters patent there is contained a proviso /
obliging me the said William Southwell by an /
Instrument in writing under my hand and seal to /
cause a particular description of the nature of my said /
invention and in what manner the same is to be /
be [sic] performed to be enrolled in his Majesty’s high /
Court of Chancery within two calendar months /
after the date of the said writed letters patent as in /
and by the same relation being thereunto had may /
more fully and at large appear Now know ye that /
in compliance with the said proviso I the said /
William Southwell do hereby declare that the /
nature of my said invention and in what manner /
the same is to be performed are described and ascert– /
ained by the drawings hereunto annexed and the /
following description that is to say ––––––––––––––– /

Fig 1 is the drawing of the Instrument and as /
portability is one of its improvements I shall first /
state its size which may be varied according to /
circumstances – the height from the ground to the /
top four foot six inches the width five foot five /
inches or thereabouts the depth only one foot /
seven inches the depth at top being no more than /
about four inches gives advantages that no other /
instrument is possessed of from its oblique shape /
the advantages to the performer must be evident /
the front of the Instrument being so much away /
from the face and the music Desk at Letter A at all /
times in a proper position to receive the book and with /
a simple contrivance hereafter described with the pedal /
at the left foot B can turn down or up at pleasure /
The Book keepers by means of a plate of brass or other /
material marked C – fig four and at each end D E. Teeth /
are cut to act on the two wheels F & G which are /
cut in teeth to fit the others and by means of about /
half an inch a straight motion which is produced by /

Folio 2
Pedal B fig 1 by the end of a lever or levers as /
commonly used in pedal work pressing against Letter /
H consequently the book keepers J K which are /
connected with the wheels will turn out of the way /
and by means of a spring L will return back when /
you take your foot from the pedal . this work to /
be fastened to the inside under rail of music desk /
A. Fig 2 is the side view of the movement on one /
key letters m n are key and grass hopper as /
usual but I shall describe all parts new and old the /
better to be understood Letter O the rail for levers /
which in the action of the key raise a slender /
conducting rod P which moves the hammer [inserted:] 2 [then:] the /
string and when it returns back rests on a tail /
R S is another view of the rod P. fig 3 It having /
on its end at T a fork of wood covered with leather /
or other soft material which fork on that end of /
rod is made to fit the tail of the hammer at /
U for the purpose of keeping it steady the /
bottom end is screwed in a button as usual as /
described in drawing fig 3 the damper which is /
entirely new in its application I shall describe /
with figures beginning first with fig 5, which /
damper is made of wood and moves on a [illegible word: ? centre] /
similar to a key as described in drawing fig 2 /
a slender wire screwed in the end and on the /
wire a bit of wood with soft cloth or other fit /
material fastened to it which [illegible word: ? comes] against the /
strings fig 6. The motion given to the damper /
when playing is by a wire fig 7 with a bit of /
wood at the upper end of the said wire being /
driven into the Key gives as much motion as /
is necessary to the damper when playing and /
without adding any perceivable difference to the /
weight of the Key. Figures 8.9 is a piece or /
pieces of wood at the front of the Instrument /
behind the name board for the purpose of /
strength and also figure 10 is a board half an /
inch thick or thereabouts which is fastened in /
from the belly to the base and covers the /
space from the long block down to the name /
board leaving an opening only for hammer /
and damper to pass through as described and /
about one quarter of an inch from the string by /
these advantages the instrument has much more /
strength than other instruments and with thinner /
wood consequently stands better in tune, the /
new improvements and advantages are in /
figure 1 and Letter A the case and at fig 4 /
letters C D E F G H J K L at figure 2 Letter /
U and figures and at figure /
3 letter T the last or case string takes its /
direction [inserted:] from [then:] about W to Y and continues in same /
manner as usual in other Instruments and its /
oblique shape make it extremely convenient for /
the tuner and putting on strings C+ C+. fig 2 /
X is a slip of wood commonly called a ruler /
lined with cloth or other soft material as /
usual for the purpose of keeping the conducting /
rod from flying back in playing C+ C+ the /
ruler is fastened on in any way most convenient /
so as to be easily and simply taken off it should /
likewise take the same direction as the hammer /
tail Z which is 3 or 4 inches or thereabouts /
lower in the treble than the base [sic] In Witness /
whereof I the said William Southwell have /
hereunto set my hand and seal this twenty /
ninth day of April in the Year of our Lord /
one thousand eight hundred and eleven /

William Southwell /

[In margin] Steele
And be it remembered
that on the twenty /
ninth day of April in the year of our Lord 1811 /
the aforesaid William Southwell came before our /
said Lord the King in his chancery and acknow- /
legeded the specification aforesaid [crossed through:] and all and every thing /
therein contained and specified in form above /
[then:] And also the specification aforesaid was /
first duly stampt according to the tenor of the /
statute made for that purpose.–––––––––––– /
Inrolled the thirtieth day of April in the year of /
our Lord one thousand eight hundred and eleven /

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

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