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    Thomas Jefferson Autograph Letter Signed "Th: Jefferson," one page, 7.5" x 9.75". Monticello, April 20, 1821. In full, as written, "I am truly ashamed of being so troublesome to you as the intermediate of my correspondence with mr Coffee, and can only plead in excuse his desire that I should do so. on the 5th of March, not knowing whether he was in New York I took the liberty of putting under the protection of your cover a letter to him asking a supply of 4 casks of Roman cement and at the same time desired my correspondent in Richmond to remit him 40 D. under the same cover. recieving no answer from him, I conclude he is not in N. York, and being informed I can get the same cement in Richmond which is much more convenient to me, should the cement not have been already forwarded from New York I should prefer a return of my remittance & to employ it in Richmond. if you can be so good as to have this effected it will close this business, and add to my obligations to you and I pray you to accept the assurance of my great esteem and respect." William J. Coffee (1774-1846) was an oil painter and sculptor who worked in porcelain, plaster, and terra cotta. He emigrated from England to New York City in 1816. The following year, Coffee traveled to Monticello to sculpture the busts of Jefferson, his daughter, Martha, and granddaughter Ellen. In 1818, he went to Montpelier where was commissioned to model the busts of James Madison, his wife Dolley, and her son, John. In 1818, Jefferson wrote to Coffee that he was looking for a cement that would remain stable in the presence of water, a characteristic necessary for lining the cisterns on his Monticello estate. Coffee suggested Roman cement and said that it cost $9.00 per barrel of five bushels. Beneath his docket on Coffee's November 7, 1818, reply, Jefferson noted that "Roman cement is a native production of the Isle of Thanst. it is an earth impregnated with iron ore, the vitriolic acid & Manganese. and it is said may be found wherever there is an iron ore." Jefferson purchased a supply of Roman cement in 1819 to line the cisterns and more in 1821 as is evidenced by this letter. Monticello ("Little Mountain") was built more than 500 feet above the Rivanna River. It provided spectacular views in every direction, as well as cleaner and cooler air, but it lacked a readily available water supply. Jefferson had a well at Monticello, but it was unreliable, so he devised a rainwater collection system. The terraces at Monticello were gradually sloped from their centers to facilitate the collection of rainwater into gutters running the length of the terraces. The rainwater collected in the four cisterns, placed at the corners of each of the terraces, were emptied into buckets. There were also two cisterns and an indoor privy at the conjunctions of each dependency wing below the terraces. There were three more indoor privies upstairs including one connected to Jefferson's bedchamber. This letter, lightly rippled in blank areas, has been tipped to a 10.25" x 14.25" sheet. Darkly penned by Jefferson, the letter is in very fine condition and is accompanied by a 10.25" x 13.75" engraving of Jefferson (image, 6" x 8") with facsimile signature.



    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2007
    16th-17th Monday-Tuesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 10
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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