John Lawrence Geib has remained an often-cited but poorly known builder of keyboard instruments since the eighteenth century. Although historians have noted his patent for an escapement mechanism used on early English square pianos after 1787, little has been written about him, and much of that has now proven to be incomplete or untrue. A letter written by Geib to Benjamin Franklin has recently been made public. It outlines his early years in London and provides the foundation for further research into the remaining records and extant instruments. This information allows one to draw a more complete and historically correct picture of Geib and to place him in perspective with the other builders operating at the time. This article gives new details about his principal invention – the escapement mechanism – and the nature of his business during his early years in London. A full reproduction of the patent is included as an appendix.
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