Records of Charles Holtzapffel and Company

Scope and Content

The records consist of: ledgers F, H, and K, between 1811 and 1822; and, customers' journal 1892-1897, containing accounts for sales, repairs etc. of lathes, machinery and tools.

Administrative / Biographical History

The ornamental turner Charles Holtzapffel was born in 1806. He was the son of the German engineer John Jacob Holtzapffel (1768-1835), from Alsace, who had settled in London in the 1780s and who had founded the tool business in the 1790s. Trading as John Holtzapffel in London's Long Acre, the firm was noted for its production of iron-bedded lathes with ornamental turning apparatus. In 1804 the firm was expanded to include John George Deyerlein but this arrangement lasted only until 1827.

In 1827, Charles Holtzapffel joined the firm at the age of 21. The younger Holtzapffel had received a good English education, and through careful training in the firm's workshop he had become a skilled engineer in his own right. On the death of his father, Charles carried on the firm and continued to develop the machinery and attachments for ornamental turnery. Other devices were invented too, including machinery for printing banknotes, a dividing engine for the graduation of drawing scales, and an apparatus for tracing geometrical figures on glass.

In 1838, Charles published his New system of scales of equal parts applicable to various purposes of engineering, architecture and general science followed by its complement, the List of scales of equal parts. In 1843, he published Turning and mechanical manipulation. Volume 1: Materials, their choice, preparation and various modes of working them. This was actually his father's work and was followed in 1846 by his own Turning and mechanical manipulation. Volume 2: Construction, action, and application of cutting tools. By 1884, five volumes of this turner's bible had been published by Charles and his son John Jacob Holtzapffel II.

Charles Holtzapffel was a member of the Council of the Institute of Civil Engineers, and was Chairman of the Mechanic's Committee of the Society of Arts. He died on 11 April 1847 and his widow Amelia Vaux (Dutton) Holtzapffel managed the firm until 1853.

Their son John Jacob became head of the firm in 1867 and managed the business until 1896 when Charles' nephew George William Budd (later known as George William Holtzapffel) took over. John Jacob Holtzapffel II died in Eastbourne on 14 October 1897.

In 1919, Colonel John George Holtzapffel Budd, the son of George William Holtzapffel, began to take an active part in running the firm.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.

Acquisition Information

Records acquired June 1967, Accession no. E67.8.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Stephen, Leslie. and Lee, Sidney (eds.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol. 9. Harris-Hovenden. London: Smith, Elder and Company, 1908. (2) Holtzapffel. Union Hill Antique, Collectible, and Ornamental Tools. Full-text [online].  Union Hill Antique, Collectible, and Ornamental Tools and  Union Hill Antique, Collectible, and Ornamental Tools [Accessed 30 November 2001].

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.

Related Material

The UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes: register of lathes made, cash book, family and business papers etc., 1786-1928, Guildhall Library, Ref. MSS 21515-33 NRA 31286 Holtzapffel, see HMC Records of British business and industry 1760-1914 metal processing and engineering, 1994.