A W Jeffreys Jr.
Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions
I still have four AWJs (maybe even five, if I can find one that I've lost track of). I've handled maybe 10 in total. The earliest I've seen (and happen to own) is from the late 1950s, with half-width frets. It is the only half-width fret Jeffreys I know of. The rest range from 1962 to 1991, all with full-width frets. I'll be selling one or two, so I'll be writing detailed descriptions over the next few weeks. I'd be tickled pink to see them move at $400, but I'll probably set the reserve in the mid-200s.
Since you have already swapped out the tuners (with something very nice, I might add), and if you're still ready to invest in the instrument, I suggest you completely replace the existing fret pattern. You might even consider adding extra frets. From what I've learnt about the builder, I think he would applaud you (though I also think it important to preserve at least a few examples of unmodified originals, too).
Your impulse to preserve the integrity of the instrument is the correct and ethical one. Invasive surgery on a vintage instrument is a drastic course of action, to be sure. But occasionally, it is the right course, provided there are very good reasons, you are conscious of what you are doing, and you are willing to write about it. Documenting a change usually legitimises it, from history's point of view. Moreover, Jeffreys built in sufficient quantities (I can only guess about 2000 pieces in total) to warrant some experimentation. They are fine musical instruments, after all, and should be used as expressively as possible. That sometimes requires a radical change.
There are three or four people in the country capable of doing this for you, and the cost would be between $100 and $200, depending on which one you use. I hope to be one of those people soon, but I don't yet have the skills developed. I had Ben Seymour re-fret a late model Jeffreys for me last year, and I am very pleased with the results. Ben was careful to match the existing fret wire, and maintain the feel of the action. There are others capable of good work, too -- PM me for some suggestions.