On the history of the Couesnon company – Part 3 of our series on industrial production of stringed instruments in France
The golden age of industrial musical instrument production in Mirecourt, which started in the final quarter of the 19th century and lasted until the 1930s, created opportunities not only for J.T.L. and Laberte-Magnié. It also gave rise to another (inter)national company which was significant both in terms of its numbers as well as the quality of its products. In 1885 the Paris-based company Gautrot Ainé & Cie, which had forty years of experience in manufacturing woodwinds and brass instruments, began production of stringed instruments as well. It followed in Thibouville's footsteps, albeit at a much later date.
As had been the case at J.T.L., a former employee and student of Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume was involved in this business expansion. Maurice Mermillot was made the head of the factory for stringed instruments. The new company always maintained production sites in Paris and Mirecourt, and their manufacturing more or less ran along parallel lines to its major competitors — a constellation which led to many interesting shifts as employees transferred between factories. Some talented luthiers went from one rivalling company to another in a veritable game of musical chairs. Under Amédée Couesnon, who led Gautrot starting in 1887 and eventually gave the company its new name, Georges Cherpitel was wooed away from Thibouville-Lamy in 1901. Like Laberte, Couesnon also saw the growing need for premium stringed instruments, and in 1913 he secured the necessary technical expertise by merging with the highly esteemed atelier of Léon Bernardel. One can see how competitive the environment was by the fact that another top-ranking employee switched — Eugène Vincent Génod, who worked with Laberte for many years until he joined Couesnon in 1927.
Bazin: the great name of Mirecourt bow making
Chanot: Savoir-faire - The Chanot family of luthiers
Morizot, père et frère: the short history of a great family of bow makers
Mirecourt's new masters: contemporary violin makers in Mirecourt