Thomas Jefferson Papers

Delaplaine & Hellings to Thomas Jefferson, 24 August 1810

From Delaplaine & Hellings

No 84 North 2d st Philadelphia 24 August 1810.


We take the liberty of trespassing upon your notice by sending the enclosed proposal of the Picture of Philadelphia for your signature.

Notwithstanding we have received assurances of much public patronage for a work which it is intended, under Divine Providence, shall be useful to society, yet we believe that this patronage will be increased by the reception of your respectable name.

We have the honor to be, sir, Your most obedt servts
Delaplaine & Hellings

RC (DLC); in Joseph Delaplaine’s hand; dateline below signature; at foot of text: “Thos Jefferson Esqr Late President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received 10 Sept. 1810 and so recorded in SJL.

Delaplaine & Hellings was a bookselling and publishing partnership that operated in Philadelphia for several months beginning in September 1810. Joseph Delaplaine (1777–1824), a frequent correspondent with TJ during the latter’s retirement, was born in Philadelphia and moved to Cincinnati in 1805. In 1807 he unsuccessfully sought a federal appointment as register of the Cincinnati land office. Delaplaine returned to Philadelphia in 1809 and pursued a variety of publication endeavors, including The American Edition of the New Edinburgh Encyclopedia, 18 vols. (1812–32), the monthly Emporium of Arts and Sciences (1812–13), and the Repository of the Lives and Portraits of Distinguished Americans, 2 vols. (Philadelphia, 1816–18; Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library [1829] description ends , 4 [no. 139]), to which TJ was asked to contribute (Delaplaine to TJ, 7, 20 Oct. 1807 [DNA: RG 59, LAR, 1801–09]; Gordon M. Marshall, “The Golden Age of Illustrated Biographies: Three Case Studies,” in Wendy Wick Reaves, ed., American Portrait Prints: Proceedings of the Tenth Annual American Print Conference [1984], 32–45; James Robinson, The Philadelphia City Directory for 1811 [Philadelphia, 1811], 94; Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 4 June 1824). John Hellings (d. by 1817) was active as a bookbinder in Philadelphia between about 1808 and 1813 (Robinson, The Philadelphia City Directory for 1808 [Philadelphia, 1808]; John A. Paxton, The Philadelphia Directory and Register, for 1813 [Philadelphia, 1813]; Robinson’s Original Annual Directory for 1817 [Philadelphia, 1817], 113).

After reviewing the enclosed proposal, not found, TJ subscribed to James Mease, The Picture of Philadelphia, giving an Account of its Origin, Increase and Improvements in Arts, Sciences, Manufactures, Commerce and Revenue (Philadelphia, 1811; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 4027).

Earlier this year TJ received a prospectus for Mease’s Archives of Useful Knowledge. The magazine was to begin on 1 July 1810, with quarterly issues of 120 octavo pages devoted to “commerce, manufactures, rural and domestic economy, agriculture, and the useful arts,” at an annual subscription cost of $2 (broadside dated Philadelphia, February 1810, in DLC: TJ Papers, 189:33713). The prospectus was enclosed in a letter from the publisher David Hogan at 249 Market Street, Philadelphia, February 1810 (printed circular in same, 189:33712; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Monticello”; franked; postmarked Philadelphia, 27 Feb.; endorsed by TJ: “Maese James Prospectus”). TJ does not seem to have subscribed to the work, which was published from July 1810 until April 1813.

On 13 Sept. 1810 Delaplaine & Hellings sent TJ another letter, not found but recorded in SJL as received from Philadelphia on 19 Sept. 1810.

Index Entries

  • Archives of Useful Knowledge (Mease) search
  • Delaplaine, Joseph; American Edition of the New Edinburgh Encyclopedia search
  • Delaplaine, Joseph; Delaplaine’s Repository search
  • Delaplaine, Joseph; identified search
  • Delaplaine & Hellings (Philadelphia firm); identified search
  • Delaplaine & Hellings (Philadelphia firm); letters from search
  • Delaplaine & Hellings (Philadelphia firm); letters from accounted for search
  • Delaplaine & Hellings (Philadelphia firm); solicits subscription search
  • Edinburgh Encyclopedia search
  • Emporium of Arts & Sciences; mentioned search
  • Hellings, John; and book trade search
  • Hellings, John; identified search
  • Hogan, David search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; subscriptions search
  • Mease, James; Archives of Useful Knowledge search
  • Mease, James; The Picture of Philadelphia, giving an Account of its Origin search
  • Philadelphia; The Picture of Philadelphia (Mease) search
  • Repository of the Lives and Portraits of Distinguished Americans (J. Delaplaine) search
  • subscriptions, for publications; history search
  • subscriptions, for publications; journals search
  • The American Edition of the New Edinburgh Encyclopedia (Parker and Delaplaine) search
  • The Picture of Philadelphia, giving an Account of its Origin (Mease) search