Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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W. and S. Jones

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1947. Surveying Levels. At the back an instrument by Thomas Wright 1724. The Level in the middle was made by W. and S. Jones at c1820 sent to Watts for repair in 1945. The level in the foreground is made by Watts - 1946 model.

W. and S. Jones were among the most successful scientific instrument makers in London during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

By 1776 John Jones (1736/7-1808) was in business in the Holborn area, trading as an optician. His son William was apprenticed to his father around this time.

By 1782 Jones was trading at 135 Holborn.

1782 A major opportunity for the Jones's business occurred as a result of the bankruptcy and death of one of their main competitors, Benjamin Martin, and the subsequent sale of his business

By 1784 William was in partnership with his father

1791 William's brother, Samuel, joined the business on the retirement of their father

W. and S. Jones traded under the sign of Archimedes, at 135 Holborn, next to Furnival's Inn

W. & S. Jones published "The Description and Use of a New Portable Orrery" to promote their instruments and to describe their use. [1]

1793 The company drew up the auction catalogue for disposal of the third earl of Bute's magnificent collection

1795–6 the death of another competitor, the younger George Adams (son of George Adams), and the subsequent acquisition of George junior's stock and copyrights of his books from his wife gave another boost to the Jones's business.

1797 Jones introduced the box sextant or 'pocket sextant' for nautical navigation, an early marvel of mechanical miniaturisation.

1797-1817 Supplied apparatus to the college at Harvard

1800 they moved across the road to 30 Holborn around 1800. The firm was extremely prolific, selling a wide range of optical, mathematical, and philosophical instruments and apparatus in the middle ranges of price and quality, as detailed in their comprehensive catalogues, issued at frequent intervals.

1820s Supplied products to the American collector Charles Nicholl Bancker.

The firm continued to trade at 30 Holborn until Samuel's death in 1859.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • Biography of William Jones, ODNB