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British Industrial History

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Charles Holtzapffel

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Charles Holtzapffel (1806-1847) of Holtzapffel and Co

Born the son of John Jacob Holtzapffel

1827 Joined his father's company and took over the business nine years later when his father died and continued to develop the machinery and attachments for ornamental turning. He also invented other devices including machinery for printing banknotes, a dividing engine for the graduation of drawing scales, and an apparatus for tracing geometrical figures on glass.

1830 September 9th. Married Amelia Vaux, the youngest daughter of John Dutton of his Majesty's Customs, at St Mary's, Islington [1]

Had son Charles who died aged 10

1836 Birth of son John Jacob Holtzapffel (1836-1897)

1837 Charles Holtzapffel of 64 Charing Cross, Lathe and Tool Maker, became a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.[2]

1838 He published his 'New system of scales of equal parts applicable to various purposes of engineering, architecture and general science', followed by 'List of Scales of Equal Parts' suitable for his system.

His main work, 'Turning and mechanical manipulation, intended as a work of general reference and practical instruction on the lathe', was designed to fill five volumes, but only three, published in 1843, were completed. The final two volumes were completed by his son, John Jacob Holtzapffel.

1847 April 11th. Died


Amelia Holtzapffel (c1804-1894) his wife took over the firm upon her husband's early death, as their eldest son John Jacob II was only eleven years old at the time. She posthumously published Charles' partially completed Vol. 3 of Turning and Mechanical Manipulation in 1850, and continued to manage the firm until 1853.

1851 Living at 127 Long Acre, London: Amelia Vaux Holtzapffel (age 47 born Shoreditch), a Widow and Lathe and Tool Maker employing 48 men and ? boys. With her children Ellen Holtzapffel (age 7 born St Martin in the Fields) and Frederick Holtzapffel (age 5 born St Martin in the Fields). Two servants.[3]

1861 Living at 127 Long Acre, London: Amelia Holtzapfell (age 57 born Shoreditch), a Widow and Engineer employing 34 men and 2 boys. With her children Louisa Holtzapfell (age 23 born St. Martins), Ellen M. Holtzapfel (age 17 born Westminster) and Frederick Holtzapfel (age 14 born Westminster). Also her grandsons Charles G. Budd (age 5 born Hove) and George W. Budd (age 4 born Brighton). One servant. [4]

1871 Amelia, a lathe and tool maker in London, is staying in Hastings with her daughter Amelia Budd.

1881 Living at 127 Long Acre, London: Amelia O. Holtzapffel (age 77 born Shoreditch), a Widow and Lathe and Tool Maker employing 30 men and 2 boys. With her daughters Louisa Holtzapffel (age 43 born St. Martins) and Ellen M. Holtzapffel (age 38 born St. Martins). One servant. [5]


1848 Obituary [6]

Mr. Charles Holtzapffel was the partner and successor of his father, John Jacob Holtzapffel, a native of Germany, who settled in this country, about the year 1787, and attained some reputation as a manufacturer of tools for amateur mechanics, and for improvements in lathes for common and ornamental turning.

Mr. Charles Holtzapffel devoted himself assiduously to the acquirement of scientific and practical knowledge, which he applied in the direction of his father’s business, in which he was associated at an early age, and he introduced into their productions many improvements.

Both at that period, and subsequently, he was extensively engaged in the construction of machinery for printing bank notes, of lathes for cutting rosettes, and for ornamental and plain turning, of machines for carving, and numerous other branches of mechanic arts, as well as in constructing instruments, which, from their delicacy, should almost rather have fallen within the province of the mathematical instrument maker; of these may be mentioned - the Indicator, used by Professor Moseley and Mr. W. Pole (Assoc.Inst.C.E.) for experiments upon the engine at the East London Water-works, and which was exhibited at a meeting of the Institution, in March, 1842.

His attention was not, however, exclusively devoted to these matters of business; he exerted himself to introduce a system of definite measures, based on the decimal sub-division of the standard inch, instead of the usual arbitrary method of working by gauges, and he found leisure to collect the materials for a voluminous work on 'Turning and Mechanical Manipulation,' of which he published two volumes, treating of the nature and quality of materials, their modes of preparation, the method of their manipulation, and the tools best adapted for all the purposes to which they can be applied. These volumes have been received in the most favourable manner, not only by the amateur mechanics, (for whose use he modestly stated that they had been written,) but by the professional mechanics and engineers, who find in them stores of information, which they, perhaps, scarcely know where else to seek for.

Mr. Holtzapffel’s general character, as an upright, kind-hearted man, equaled his reputation in his own peculiar department, and his loss was deeply felt in the Institution, to which he was much attached, and to which, either as an Associate Member of the Council, or in any other position, he delighted to render himself actively useful.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Standard, Saturday, September 11, 1830
  2. 1837 Institution of Civil Engineers
  3. 1851 Census
  4. 1861 Census
  5. 1881 Census
  6. 1848 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries