The OHS Pipe Organ Database

BuilderID 1325

Builder Identification

Ivoryton, Connecticut, c. 1860; merged with Pratt, Read & Co., 1937.

Additional Notes

  • From the OHS PC Database, derived from A Guide to North American Organbuilders by David H. Fox (Organ Historical Society, 1991). —

    Established by Samuel M. Comstock and George A. Cheney in Ivoryton, Connecticut, c. 1860, keyboards; merged with Pratt, Read & Co., 1937.

    Source:

    • David Junchen, Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ, Vol. 2 (Pasadena: Showcase Publications, 1990), 833.
    •  

  • From the OHS Database Builders Listing editor, August 25, 2016. —

    Ivoryton Village, known originally as West Centerbrook, was sparsely settled well into the 1800s, with only about a dozen homesteads and farms. The two men responsible for the growth of Ivoryton were Samuel Merritt Comstock, born in 1809, and George A. Cheney, who was twenty years younger. After an early partnership to produce screwdrivers and ivory goods, Comstock set out on his own to manufacture ivory products. Earlier in the century, a machine invented by Deacon Phineas Pratt of Essex, enabled the cutting of ivory for combs and other fine items. Comstock continued to refine the process and eventually concentrated on the manufacture of ivory piano keys and piano actions.

    George Cheney, ivory importer and salesman, became partner with Samuel Comstock in 1862; the company became known as Comstock, Cheney & Co. When Comstock died in 1878, George Cheney headed the company. They manufactured ivory keys for piano [and organ] keyboards.

    In addition to the ivory keys, they manufactured the actions for all the well known piano manufacturers such as Steinway, Chickering, and others. The Great Depression, coupled with the introduction of radio, seriously impacted their business. In 1936, Comstock, Cheney & Co. merged with Pratt, Read & Co. of Deep River and the combined company kept the name of Pratt, Read & Co.1

    Pratt, Read & Company, long associated with the Connecticut River Valley, closed as a piano parts manufacturer in the late 1980s. Harwood Comstock, a great-great-grandson of Samuel M. Comstock, carried on the corporate name as president of the Pratt-Read Corporation. The company, now called Pratt-Read Tools and based in Illinois, manufactures screwdrivers, the same product that was Samuel’s first business venture in 1834.2

    Sources:

    1. Essex Historical Society website, "History of Essex, CT" (http://www.essexhistory.org/history-of-essex-ct.htm) accessed Sept 13, 2015.
    2. CTHumanities website "Connecticut History.Org" (http://connecticuthistory.org/ivory-cutting-the-rise-and-decline-of-a-connecticut-industry/#sthash.6t9smkGB.dpuf) accessed Sept 13, 2015.

     

  • Suggested for further reading:

     

Database Entries

There are no entries in the database that describe organs by Comstock, Cheney & Co.


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