How Chess Saved Beethoven

How Chess Saved Beethoven

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A Little Background:
      A man named Wolfgang von Kempelen created a supposed chess-playing machine in 1770.  A chess master cleverly concealed inside controlled the exposed turbaned, mustached figure and the moves of the game.  Kempelen was more interested in creating than exhibiting and only did so sporadically until the Holy Roman Emperor, Joseph II, ordered him to take the Automaton on tour.  The Chess-Player contended with such people as Bernard, Verdoni and even Philidor himself.  Wise old Benjamin Franklin played the automaton in Paris and was deceived by its ingenuity.  Taking the machine to London, the Automaton rivaled Philidor's blindfold exhibitions as an attraction.   Kempelen returned to mainland Europe, storing the apparatus in the Schönbrunn Palace where it remained for about 20 years.

     Upon Kempelen's own death in 1804, the Automaton was bought by a man named Johann Nepomuk Maelzel.  Maelzel. the son of an organ maker, was a fine musician in his own right.  He also tinkered with mechanical ideas and eventually became "Court Mechanician" at Schönbrunn Palace, creating all types of mechanical marvels. He bought the Chess Automaton from Kempelen's estate in 1804 and learned the intricacies of both the mechanical Turk and game of chess.  After a brief exhibition tour, he sold the automaton to Eugène de Beauharnais, Prince of Eichstätt, for a tidy profit, but bought it back for the same amount, but on credit, a few years later. In the meantime, Maelzel had some dealings with Beethoven, creating for him a metronome (which he called a chronometer) and ear trumpets while exploiting Beethoven's talents for his own benefit.  Maelzel took his Chess Automaton to England where it's secrets were becoming less secret. 

     Returning to Paris, he possibly felt the need to escape a lawsuit from Beethoven (though that seemed to have been mutually forgotten), his debt/lawsuit with de Beauharnais (most definitely not forgotten) and the growing risk of having his secrets exposed, Maelzel fled to the United States, the land of opportunity, in 1825.  He fared well in the New World, finding fresh audiences and new venues for his extravaganzas that featured different automatons, mechanical devices, inspiring music and, of course, a machine that played chess.  After a decade in the States, Maelzel went to Cuba, hoping it might become a springboard into the fresh territories of the Caribbean and South America, but both he and his operator, William Schlumberger, contracted Yellow Fever and died - Schlumberger in Cuba and Maelzel on the returning ship.

A Short preface:
     The journal for The Good Companion Problem Club published the following article by Charles Willing on May 11, 1917. 

     Willing was born on May 10, 1872 and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1893 with a degree in the Arts. He grew an extensive chess library of fine/rare books and periodicals catalogued by the Free Library of Philadelphia in 1916.  Apparently he was an adept musician since at a problem-solving tournament of the Good Companion Chess Problem Club on July 9, 1921, the "American Chess Bulletin" (June, 1921) noted that as part of the entertainment, "Charles Willing of Philadelphia will play 'The Paul Morphy Waltz,'  composed by Mrs. Voitier of New Orleans in honor of her celebrated nephew."  Willing died in 1950.

     His article is somewhat lengthy and controversial.  After reading Beethoven's biography and a collection of his correspondence, it seems that Willing is overstating Maelzel's contributions at Beethoven's expense.  But the article does detail Maezel's dealings with Beethoven as the master showman vied with the great composer. Just as there is no doubt about Beethoven's contribution to music, there is little doubt about Maelzel's influence upon the popularization of chess. One thing to take away from this is that Maelzel's successes were not only dependent upon the Chess Automaton but his other mechanical marvels as well. 

     In the spirit of extolling Maelzel, the publication also presented many artifacts, most of which I've included here, from different collections once stored at the now defunct Ridgeway branch of Free Library of Philadelphia. Just as in any Maelzel extravaganza, these alone are worth the price of admission.


     Chess masters are proverbially poor and chess as a profession had never been able to rival munition-making as a source of income.  From time immemorial it has been customary to look upon the chess devotee as a man who cannot succeed at anything else.  This absurd notion, like that of the bad effect of the game upon longevity, upon which we recently descanted, is widespread and passes generally without challenge.  But it is even less plausible, and easier to demolish.  Not only have many chess champions, such as Baron Kolisch, George Walker, St. Amant, and others been keen men of business, albeit indirectly exerted, had a marked influence for good upon the fortunes of two noted men.

     Had not the ingenious and quick-witted Maelzel sold the Chess Automaton, which he had previously bought from the estate of its inventor, Von Kempelen, for $6,000, there is every probability that several things of importance in the world's history would not have occurred.  Notably, Beethoven would never have been recognized as a great musician, his life would have been further stunted by poverty and neglect, and, specifically, he would not have composed one of his best known works.  Not the less unfortunate would have been the resulting loss of one of the most important inventions in music—that of the metronome, the experiments with and first manufacture of which would have been impossible without that self-same 30,000 francs—that is to say—part of it.  Biographers of Beethoven are vague, if not silent, upon these points; possibly from ignorance, but more likely from a shudder at the thought that the career of their demi-god could have been in any way dependent upon a mere game.  And speaking f deities, the story of Maelzel's association with Beethoven shows clearly that the creator of heavenly harmonies was also responsible for a lot of things not at all celestial and decidedly discordant.
     It was Maelzel, whom Franklin Peale, of Philadelphia, called the Prince of Entertainers, that Beethoven owed almost the only glimpses of sunshine in his morbid and gloomy life.  Maelzel's keen scent fro what people would "fall for," coupled with his own musical taste and engaging manners, literally made a fortune for Beethoven and himself, and had not the former not quarreled with Maelzel, there can be little doubt that not only would the career of this great musician have been happier and longer, but in all probability he would have produced, under continuing favoring auspices, many more of those masterpieces which have enthralled the world.
     Until he met Maelzel his music found favor with neither critics nor the people.   Despite his wonderful genius, h could get but a meager hearing and was barely able to keep from starving.  But when Maelzel came along—with his $6,000, culled from the chess inquisitiveness of a wealthy patron, and his Pan-Harmonicon—all was changed.  Beethoven started to eat three square meals a day, the public, tickled with the patriotic touches suggested by Maelzel, woke up to the fact that the rest of Beethoven's music was also pretty good l finally the aristocracy, even royalty, began to "take notice."   From that period Beethoven;s fame was secure, and although his fortunes, largely through his own eccentricities, subsequently wavered, they never again fell quite so low as before he worked with the proprietor of the Automaton.     And, as proof of our contention, when Maelzel himself felt things going not as well as he would like, he reverted to his first love, temporarily jilted, and through chess lived the remainder of his life in comfortable circumstances.  Usual had it been to minimize the all-around ability of Maelzel and the vital influence which he exerted of the career of Beethoven, an influence, as we shall show, which was made possible only through the proceeds of Maelzel's sale of the Chess Automaton.
Maelzel's versatility.
     Johann Nepomuk Maelzel was born in 1772 at Ratisbon, Germany.  The son of an organ builder, he came naturally by his musical talent and inventiveness and when twenty years old settled in Vienna as a music teacher.  Soon afterwards he constructed an instrument of flutes, trumpets, drums, cymbals, strings struck by hammers, triangle, etc., which discoursed, to the wonderment of the hoi polloi, music by Hayden, Mozart and other leading composers.  It went so well that Maelzel was able to dispose of it for 3000 florins ($600) . His next machine was similar to this one but had, in addition, clarinets, violins ans 'cellos.  It worked by weights attached to cylinders and Maelzel dubbed it the Panharmonicon.  It was first exhibited, in Vienna, in 1804, and was from the start a source of steady and comfortable income for its inventor.
     It was with money thus that secured that Maelzel, at some time between 1804 and 1806 purchased from Von Kempelen, what was to prove for him a veritable gold mine—the celebrated Automaton Chess Player.  With this Automaton, the Panharmonicon, and other ingenious mechanisms fo his invention, a rumpeter which played French and Austrian cavalry marches and signals.  Maelzel went to Paris and there inaugurated a series of exhibitions which eventually carried him all over Europe.

The Automaton a Gold Mine.
     The success of thse tours, the furor of excitement and curiosity which the Automaton excited, exceeding even that of Von Kempelen's time, are matters of record and do not concern us here.  Suffice it to say that the desire to solve its mystery brought offers t buy the Automaton from many wealthy patrons, and that Maelzel's keen business sense enabled him to take advantage of the highest bid that was made, that of 30,000 francs ($6,000) by Prince Eugene Beauharnais.  Neither the exact date nor place of this transaction in known, but of the price paid there is no doubt. It took place before 1812, either at Munich, where Maelzel at one time lived as Court Mechanican, or at Milan, where the lively young Viceroy had witnessed the play of the Automaton.
     It was at this period, with his pockets lined with a sum of money equivalent to at least $50,000 to-day [in 1917 - batgirl], that Maelzel, on returning to Vienna, met Beethoven.  Taking pity on the necessitous condition of the musical prodigy,  Maelzel lent Beethoven 50 gold ducats, besides presenting him with an ear trumpet [a hearing aid - batgirl] of his own invention.   Beethoven, used to nothing but indifference and neglect, was so encouraged with Maelzel's kindness, which was by no means entirely disinterested, that he readily acceded to Maelzel's suggestion that they join forces.  A grand concert was projected, which was a great success.  Beethoven wrote pieces for the Panharmonicon, which was rebuilt on an enlarged scale, and fro the Trumpeter, and in 1812 the partners opened what they called The Art Cabinet.

The Battle Symphony.
     While they were engaged thus the news came of the great defeat of Napoleon's forces by Wellington at Vittoria, Spain, on July 13, 1813, which was followed, on October 19th, by the battle of Leipzig, another nail in Bonaparte's coffin.  These events, coupled with the disasters of the Russian campaign of the previous year, presaged momentous changes and created a great wave of patriotic fervor in Austria,  which Maelzel was not slow to take advantage of.  Beethoven too, was moved by these great occurrences and he entered with enthusiasm on the planes of Maelzel which promised to combine profit and patriotism.  Maelzel conceived and sketched in detail a musical piece to commemorate the battle of Vittoria, Beethoven proceeding with the composition.
     While the instrumentation was being finished and the piece was being arranged on the cylinders, Maelzel induced Beethoven to score it also for orchestra.  Maelzel had in view a tour of England and he believed that here might be a chance to acquire some of the funds necessary.  This battle symphony was performed orchestrally on December 8, 1813, and repeated on the 12th, yielding a net profit of over 4,000 florins ($800).
     More concerts were given, with equal success, and soon Beethoven began to find himself popular in Vienna, a decidedly new sensation.  From this period dates Beethoven;s fame, for before that time his music had been heard by only a small minority and appreciated by still fewer  It was Maelzel's perception of what would attract the popular ear, and to his quick realization of the possibilities of capitalizing the enthusiasm over military victories that one of the world's greatest composers thus owed his "first chance."  And, here is the point, the whole project could not have been launched without the money procured from the sale of the Chess Automaton, an amount greater than the sum realized from all these concerts, successful though they were.   To chess, then, the glory.
     The second movement of Beethoven's eighth symphony, the celebrated Allegretto Scherzando, is based on a theme of a three-voiced canon, or round, "Ta, ta, ta, lieber Maelzel," sung in honor of the inventor of the Metronome and proprietor of the Chess Automaton, at a farewell dinner given to Beethoven in July 1912, in Vienna.  Beethoven is reported as having said: "I, too, am in the second movement of the Eighth Symphony— ta, ta, ta, —the canon on Maelzel.  It was a right jolly evening when we sang the canon.  Maelzel was the bass, I the soprano."  The metronome was not called such until five years later, but the persistent ticking of a wind instrument in sixteenth notes, heard almost throughout the movement, leaves little to doubt the accuracy of the story.
     Shortly after the opening concerts Beethoven wrote a letter of thanks to all who had taken part in it, which he says: "Herr Maelzel, indeed, deserves special thanks, in that he, as impresario first conceived the idea of these concerts, while to him also fell the most trying duties of making preliminary arrangements and attending to all details.  And I must also specially thank him, because on these concerts he gave me the opportunity, which I should otherwise lacked, of producing this composition, which has been composed for the public rejoicing at the recent glorious victories.

The Partners fall out.
     But success begat greed and as profit mounted, especially the sum received from a great concert in aid of wounded soldiers—of which, however, Maelzel & Co. did not fail to take a goodly share—the promoter and composer fell out, principally because Beethoven demanded a larger share of the profits.  The composer brought suit against Maelzel to recover compositions already produced and sundry others written fro production.  Before the matter came to an issue, Maelzel, with the Panharmonicon, etc. decamped to Munich, where he continued raking in the coin, this time without the awkward necessity of dividing with the mane whose genius breathed life into the pieces performed.
     In a letter written to his lawyer in July, 1814, Beethoven gives his version of his troubles thus:  "Of my own accord I wrote gratis a symphony for Maelzel's Panharmonicon.    We came to an agreement to give this work and also other compositions of mine. In the meantime, however, I found myself in the most terrible money perplexity.  Abandoned here in Vienna by everybody else, my money all gone, I appealed to Maelzel and he offered me 50 ducats.  I accepted them, of course, and told him that I would either return them to him here or, if I did not myself travel with him, would give him the symphony to take to London, where I would refer him to an English publisher who had promised to advance this amount.  Herr Maelzel promised me some ear trumpets. Finally he completed his invention, but they were of no practical use to me."
     The description of these exhibitions of Maelzel and Beethoven, over which such a public interest had been aroused, offers unmistakable proofs of the industry and versatility of the former.  In addition to the Panharmonicon, which was 7ft. long, 6ft. wide and 6ft. high, and the Mechanical Trumpeter, there was also an exhibition of states, bronzes, and paintings, and of various lesser mechanical devises which had been invented by Maelzel.  His completed Panharmonicon comprised all the instruments of the ordinary military band and discoursed such music, in addition to Beethoven;s compositions, as Cherubini's Overture to "Lodoiska," Hayden's Military Symphony, the Overture and a Chorus to Handel's "Timotheus," besides a large number of pieces of lesser note.
Maelzel, a first-class Musician.
     As he was planning to visit England soon after Wellington's victory,  which Beethoven's piece was written to commemorate, Maelzel immediately became imbued with the idea that "Rule Britannia" and "God Save the King" must be worked in some way.  He hastened to Beethoven and in this instance, the only one on record, a composer was not adverse to amending his own composition.  He listened patiently to Maelzel's arguments and immediately set about making the additions desired.  He not only embodied in the symphony "God Save the King," but also added a triumphal march.  Beethoven wrote the music, but the ideas were all Maelzel's.
     Schindler, when he heard this piece on the Panharmonicon, was so impressed that he foresaw a great success if it were arranged for orchestra.  As related, Maelzel persuaded Beethoven to do this, and Schindler remarks: "Probably Maelzel thought on the Panharmonicon, the piece would be a far more potent attraction if its reputation were already established."

Crisis of Beethoven's career.
     Here was the crisis of Beethoven's career.  The question arose whether he should accompany Maelzel to England.  It was settled by his quarrel with Maelzel.  As events proved, Beethoven made the mistake of his life by not sticking to the man who owed most of his prosperity to chess.  If Beethoven had at that time appeared in England with Maelzel there is every probability that there would have been no subsequent history of poverty, sickness from neglect, bitter disappointment, morbidity, and a miserable, lonely death in a moldy, forsaken, monastic-like Viennese building.  In England he would have found a home, a very throne among music lovers ; he would have been cherished and consoled in his advancing years and would probably have lived many years longer and have produced many more masterpieces.
     Of Beethoven's and Maelzel's concerts in Vienna, [Ludwig] Spohr, writing many years afterwards, said : "They were masterly, in spite of Beethoven;s eccentric, and at times absurd, conducting.  The Battle Piece, or Military Symphony, created such a furor that Beethoven found himself  suddenly and overwhelmingly popular.  This popularity extended even t the humblest Viennese.  That the unlettered should respond to his music was in Beethoven's eyes his greatest triumph."
     Additional testimony in contradiction to the view given by Beethoven in his letter to his lawyer, quoted previously, is furnished by [Ignaz] Moscheles, the celebrated pianist, who wrote : "I witnessed the origin and progress of this work and remember that not only did Maelzel decidedly induce Beethoven to write it (The Battle Symphony), but even laid before him the whole design of it ; and himself made all the drum passages and trumpet flourishes ; gave the composer hints as to how he should herald the English Army by "Rule Britannia," how he should introduce the tune "Malbrook" in a dismal strain, how he should depict the horrors of battle, and arrange "God Save the King" with effects representing the hurrahs of the multitudes.  Even the unhappy idea of converting the melody of "God Save the King" into a subject for a fugue emanated from Maelzel.  All this I saw in sketches and scores brought by Beethoven to Maelzel's workshop, which was then the only suitable place of reception which Beethoven was provided with.

Back to his old love.
     After the novelty of Maelzel's musical inventions wore off the receipts began to grow appreciably less, with the result that he soon found that 30,000 francs almost gone.  What's more natural that he should revert in thought again to the Automaton, which had launched him on to success, and that he should long to possess again that never-failing source of income?
     The Turk was still in possession of its purchaser, Prince Eugene Beauharnais who was residing then in Munich.  The Prince had long ago grown tired of the marvel, now that its mystery was to him a mystery no more, and Maelzel doubtless had visions of getting back the Automaton with little or no cost, on the plea that it was no longer of any use to the prince.  But that nobleman was "close" in his dealings and had the habit of letting go precious little of what he had got his grasp on.  He offered the Automaton to Maelzel for the same 30,000 francs, but as that out of the question for the latter, the Prince agreed to let him have it on credit, the 30,000 francs to be paid out of the profits, in installments, agreement being made that the machine should not leave Europe.

A new world to conquer.
     These prospects didn't look very rosy for Maelzel.  What was he to do?  He decided to "fly the coop." an action not exactly honorable, but not without palliation in view of the niggardliness of the Prince. So, on Dec. 20th, 1825, Maelzel finds himself, with his Automaton, his Panharmonicon, Trumpeter, and Metronomes, on board the ship Howard, bound from Havre for New York, at which latter port he arrived on February 3d following. A new vista opened, thus depicted by George Walker :—
     "The Automaton was transported to the United States of America, where for a time it proved that the natives of the New World were made of the same stuff as their elder brethren. Jonathan dropped his dollars freely; and the calculating spirit of the land of Stripes and Stars, Methodist Conventicles, and Chain Slaves, slumbered beneath the spell of Maelzel's music.
     "Schlumberger, an Alsatian, accompanied it, holding the important post of invisible demonstrator, ordinary and extraordinary. Lynch-law would, doubtless, have been awarded the trio, had the secret been discovered in that sweet Land of Liberty."

Some Yankee Notions.
     Maelzel was not long in receiving some new sensations in America. These he wittily indicated to a friend in Philadelphia by describing his idea of the difference between a German, a Frenchman, an Englishman, and an American as regards their reception of the Automation:
     "You Americans," he said, are a very singular people. I went with my Automaton all over my own country; the Germans wondered and said nothing. In France, they exclaimed, "Magnifique!  Merveilleux! Superbe!" The English set themselves to prove—one that is could be, and another that it could not be, a mere mechanism, acting without a man inside.
     But I had not been long in your country before a Yankee came to me and said: "Mr. Maelzel, would you like another thing like that?" I laughed at his proposition. A few months afterwards, the same Yankee came to see me again, and this time he said: "Mr. Maelzel, would you like to buy another thing like that? I have one ready made for you." Maelzel bought off some of these sharpers, of course for sums considerably less than their first offers.

Maelzel's Burning of Moscow.
     Prominent in the entertainment offered by Maelzel was his famous Moving Panorama of the Burning of Moscow. This was one of his first popularizations of a great world's event, and was set for the Panharmonicon in Vienna, as early as 1812. The two programmes of the Burning of Moscow, which we reproduce, describe his latest greatly enlarged panorama, constructed in Philadelphia in 1837. An eye witness of the performance describes the event as follows:—" When the curtain rose, last night, Moscow lay before us in miniature. There was the ' Holy City' with its churches, palaces, bridges, houses, etc., and with its towering minarets bathed in the silvery light of the full moon. Across a bridge, near the foreground, the French army was advancing; while in front were crowds of citizens, bearing upon their backs such valuables as they could carry away. Anon a bright flame shot up from the heart of the city, and the great conflagration had commenced. The fire spread slowly on all sides, sending up tongues of flames and clouds of smoke, until nearly the entire city was involved, and the lurid glare of burning churches and houses had drowned out the moonbeams and spread the red pall of ruin and devastation over everything. The strains of martial music, the booming of artillery, the rattle of musketry, and crushing of falling walls added to the deception and carried the spectator back co those dread nights in September, 1812, when the most heroic sacrifice of modern times was made by a patriotic people." Maelzel also showed automatic slack rope dancers, a diorama of the Cathedral of Rheims (something that might "go" even nowadays), and an automatic cellist.
     The United States Gazette, in publishing his eulogy said: "He has gone, we hope, where the music of his Harmonicons will be exceeded." Thus ended the remarkable career of the man who, when he first landed in America, twelve years before, was heralded in the "Ship News" as " Mr. Maelzel, inventor to (sic) the Panharmonicon and the Musical Timekeeper."     

The Automaton in Philadelphia.
     Interesting particulars of Maelzel's stay in Philadelphia are related by Prof. George Allen, who tells us: "Maelzel rented, for a term of years, a building, long since abandoned, in Fifth Street, below Walnut. The second story had already been used as a dancing hall. This Maelzel fitted up, at considerable expense, as an exhibition room, with a new broad stairway, and private rooms for himself, where he could look after his Automaton, and enjoy his chess-dinners with Schlumberger, in a delightful state of bachelor independence. He retained the control of this building for so many years and occupied it so large a part of the time in person—merely letting the lower story—that it came to be regularly known as 'Maelzel's Hall.'"
"Maelzel was passionately devoted to chess, and if he was really 'an inferior player,' his inferiority was shown, where chess-genius shines most, in the combinations of the middle game; in end-games Schlumberger declared him to be superior to himself.
Maelzel's first exhibition season in Philadelphia extended from the 26th day of December, 1826, to the 20th of March, 1827. The Hall was opened twice a day, and full games as well as end-games were played. The Automaton lost one end-game —the famous three pawn position—to Mr. D. Smith; and one full game to a lady, Mrs. Fisher.

Invention of the Metronome.
     Maelzel's troubles with piratical Yankees were duplicated, in a more serious manner, by the law suits to which he was subjected by persons in Europe who asserted that they, not he, were the inventors of the Metronome.  It is true that Stokll [ Magdeburg organist/cantor, J.G.E. Stöckel or Stökl -batgirl] had previously invented a machine for beating time, but Maelzel's efforts were such an improvement on this that the litigation failed.
     In 1815 Maelzel, who then called his invention simply the musical chronometer, pleased with the commendation of Beethoven and others, that he determined to show it in London and other great centers. When he reached Paris, he rented rooms for the purpose of making several more of these chronometers, and this was, undoubtedly, the first Metronome factory. This was in 1816. The first Metronome made by Maelzel in Paris, differ but little in any vital points from those now in use throughout the world. Thus was established the credit of this versatile genius to the invention of one of the most widespread evidences of civilization, which obtrudes its monotonous "tick-tock" wherever callow youths and maidens maul and mangle helpless pianos and violins.

At the Shrine of Caissa.
     Whether in thus encouraging these attempts Maelzel bequeathed in the Metronome an unmixed blessing to humanity may be questioned. But there can be no doubt as to what was the most unmixed blessing to him and his erstwhile friend, Beethoven. It was the Chess Automaton, which, whether under the guidance of Schlumberger or Maelzel himself, in Europe or America, in peace or war, everywhere and all the time, was a money-maker; which gave to them both, at the most critical juncture of their lives, that sustenance which buoyed them to further efforts and, which in the case of Beethoven, saved from early eclipse a wonder-worker whose handicraft is to-day as vital as it was when its creator was lifted from misery by the 30,000 francs earned through Chess.

   (for some of these images, right-click/view image to see a larger version)

Maelzel's business card in Paris
(the black splotch is a wax seal; the reverse contains Schlumberger's handwriting)

Two sides of the Original Program for May 17, 1834
     Maelzel died in 1838. John F. Ohl, Maelzel's business partner, was named administrator of Maelzel's estate.  All his mechanical effects went on the auction block in September 1838 with the following result: The Chess Automaton ($400), the Trumpeter ($675), the Rope Dances ($225) and Speaking Figures, 7 smaller automatons for the threater ($160), the Whist Player ($40), the Conflagration of Moscow ($900), the Carousel or Tournament ($200), the Pyric Fire ($250), an organ ($35) and a piano ($55). Ohl, himself, bought many of the items including the Chess Automaton.
     The Automaton was later sold to a composium headed by Dr. John Kearsley Mitchell.  His group rebuilt the automaton and learned its secret.  The Chess Player was haphazardly exhibited with Lloyd P. Smith and William Kummer as its operators (even Mitchell himelf gave it a go) while being advertized as the Turk, the famous Chess Player of Maelzel and Kempelen..  Housed in the building that was once Charles Willson Peale's Chinese Museum on 9th and Sansom Streets, it was destroyed by a fire on July 5, 1854.

     Some of Maelzel's other items were exhibited under the ownership of an acrobat/juggler, weightlifter/strongman named P. L. Zaionczek (see images below) who once perfomed at Rubens Peale's New York Museum.  Charles Willson Peale owned the Philadephia museum; his son, Rembrandt Peale, the Baltimore museum and his other son Rubens, the New York museum. Rubens Peale ended up having to sell his contents to another showman, P.T. Barnum, who operated the huge American Museum on Broadway and Ann Street (which place in 1828 advertised the coming of an automaton chess player superior to that of Maelzel, but it never materialized). Zaionczek later auctioned off these items.

Program from an exhibition given at the
Assembly Bldg., Philadelphia in Jan.,1845

Montreal, June 1847

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