To Robert Morris
Monticello Augt. 15. 1783
Being desirous of getting from England as soon as possible one of those copying Machines invented there not long since, and of which I dare say you have seen Specimens of it’s Execution in Doctr. Franklin’s Letters, I take the Liberty of asking the favor of you to write thither for one for me, with half a dozen Reams of Paper proper for it. If you can think of this in the first Letter you write and will be so good as to order it out by the first Opportunity the Obligation will be increased. It may be brought to Philadelphia as I shall be there in November to continue some Time.
Tr (PPAP); in a clerk’s hand; at Morris to Benjamin Franklin, dated head of text of a letter from Robert Philadelphia, 17 Sep. 1783, reading as follows: “You have above an extract of a letter from the Honble Mr. Jefferson to me by which you will perceive that he wants one of your late invented Machines for Copying Writings. He desires me to write to England but if I am not much mistaken France is the place. You however will know where his order can be best executed, and give orders accordingly. Shou’d it be shipped from France Messrs. Le Couteulx & Cie. will supply the Money to pay Cost on my Account. If you think it best to order it from London Messrs. Herries & Company of that place will pay for it, or in either case if it will suit you to draw on Mr. Jefferson or me payable in America for the Cost the bill shall be punctually acquitted. You will excuse this trouble. It is occasioned by the opinion which I entertain, that this is the most likely way to have our Friend Jefferson well served. With sincere Attachment I ever am Dear Sir Your most Obedient and Most humble servant Robt Morris.”
The copying press was bought through Herries & Co. (See note to record entry for TJ to Samuel House, 5 Dec. 1783.), but news of its being ordered through that firm came just as TJ was embarking for Europe and he therefore directed Morris to take the device for himself if he should want it, otherwise to dispose of it on his account (see record entry, TJ to Morris, 3 July 1784). On 16 Aug. 1784, having arrived in Paris, TJ “put into hands of W. T. Franklin to buy copying press and books in London 16½ English guineas” (Account Book).