Chickering & Sons (not to be confused with Chickering Brothers) was the first actual piano factory in America, established in Boston in 1823 by Jonas Chickering with partner James Stewart. (The firm was known as “Stewart & Chickering” for a short time) From about 1830-1840, Chickering built some pianos under the name of Chickering & Mackay. John Mackay was a sea captain, and he would export Chickering pianos to South American, and in return, would bring back ships full of sweet smelling rosewood and mahogany for piano building.
From 1839 – 1841, John Mackay’s son William H. Mackay was admitted as an additional partner, and pianos were built under the label of “Chickering & Mackays”. Pianos built under the “Chickering & Mackays” label appear to have been produced for only 3 short years.
John Mackay was lost at sea in 1841, and this loss appears to have ended the partnership between Chickering and William H. Mackay. Pianos built under the labels of “Chickering & Mackay” or “Chickering & Mackays” are exceedingly rare today.
In 1852, the name of the firm was changed to Chickering & Sons when Chickering brought in his three sons, Thomas, Frank and George, as partners. Jonas Chickering died in 1853, and the firm was taken over by his son Thomas. Thomas Chickering died in 1871, and the firm was taken over by Frank Chickering. The remaining brothers died in the 1890s, as the firm continued to grow and thrive. In 1908, Chickering was sold to the American Piano Company, makers of some of America’s better brand names. In 1932, the Aeolian Piano Company and the American Piano Company merged to create the Aeolian-American Corporation, and they continued to build the Chickering name for decades.
Can you find your instrument listed in these antique catalogs?