Born in 1851, Albert Cerfon was an important figure in the Elbeuf textile industry. He started in 1881 as a picker in Caudebec-les-Elbeuf. Picking, or removing the impurities from the fibres, involves a chemical procedure on flock wool, and it is probably here that Cerfon started life as a chemist.
He went on to work as a chemist for various dyers in Elbeuf (eg. Martin fils et Compagnie, Tassel Blaye, Hennebert) and ended his career as Director of Marcel-Olivier. He passed away in 1938.
This laboratory was not used in the workshops of a factory, but was primarily a research tool, used by Cerfon at home to find and test new dyes. Its fragility would seem to preclude anything other than private use. The vitality of the local textile industry gave rise to a particular form of scientific research, ie. largely practical. The Société Industrielle d’Elbeuf thus directly encouraged innovation; M. Pinchon, for example, one of Cerfon’s chemistry teachers, designed a new aerometer, an example of which can be found in Cerfon’s laboratory.