Thomas Jefferson Papers

Joseph Delaplaine and Murray, Draper, Fairman & Company to Thomas Jefferson, 25 February 1813

From Joseph Delaplaine and from Murray, Draper, Fairman & Company

Philadelphia Feby 25th 1813.


We should derive peculiar gratification from receiving your name as a subscriber to our edition of Macklin’s Bible.

Permit us to express our hopes that you will honor us with your name on this occasion.

With much respect & esteem we remain, your obedt humbl servts
Joseph Delaplaine, &
Murray, Draper, Fairman & Co

RC (DLC); in Delaplaine’s hand and signed by him; addressed (clipped): “[. . .] Virginia”; endorsed by TJ as received 3 Mar. 1813 and so recorded in SJL.

The engraving firm of Murray, Draper, Fairman & Company was formed in Philadelphia about 1810 by George Murray, John Draper, and Gideon Fairman. A Pennsylvania native, Draper served his engraving apprenticeship at Scot & Allardice in Philadelphia, and by 1795 he helped engrave the plates for Thomas Dobson’s Encyclopædia; or, A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and Miscellaneous Literature (Philadelphia, 1798; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 4891). Draper opened his own shop with William Carr about 1801, entered into a brief formal partnership with Carr about 1809, and the following year joined Murray, and soon Fairman, in a business that expanded into bank-note engraving and printing by 1811. Seven years later the partnership dissolved and was succeeded by Murray, Fairman & Company. After Murray died in 1822, Draper rejoined the enterprise, now styled Fairman, Draper & Company. Taking on partner Thomas Underwood by 1825, the firm became Fairman, Draper, Underwood & Company. Fairman’s death in 1827 necessitated a change to Draper, Underwood & Company. Draper continued the engraving business, under at least four succeeding partnerships, until about 1846 (George C. Groce and David H. Wallace, The New-York Historical Society’s Dictionary of Artists in America 1564–1860 [1957], 112, 187, 219, 462; Robert D. Arner, Dobson’s Encyclopedia: The Publisher, Text, and Publication of America’s First Britannica, 1789–1803 [1991], 130, 231–5; Greville Bathe and Dorothy Bathe, Jacob Perkins: His Inventions, His Times, & His Contemporaries [1943], 34, 61, 70–1; Cornelius William Stafford, The Philadelphia Directory, for 1801 [Philadelphia, 1801], 55; John Adems Paxton, The Philadelphia Directory and Register, for 1818 [Philadelphia, 1818], 103; Paxton, The Philadelphia Directory and Register, for 1819 [Philadelphia, 1819]; McElroy’s Philadelphia Directory for 1847 [Philadelphia, 1847], 91).

In the prospectus for their edition of Thomas macklin’s bible, probably enclosed herein, the publishers promised a work hot-pressed on royal quarto paper, one that would add 20 American artworks to the 180 illustrations engraved in the British edition. They extolled the magnificence of the original, yet hoped that their version would equal if not surpass it and, at $175, be substantially less expensive; and they pledged a useful, accurate, handsome, and patriotic work that would display the skills of American artisans and stimulate the design and engraving arts in America. The American edition was to be published in fifty numbers of about forty pages each, with a new number appearing every six weeks at a cost of $3.50, and available by subscription only, after “a sufficient patronage is obtained to warrant” publication. The paper was to be made at the Brandywine paper mill of Thomas Gilpin & Company, the printing to be executed by William Brown, the types to be cast by Binny & Ronaldson, and the volumes to be bound, if desired, by William W. Potter (New-York Evening Post, 25 Feb. 1813). The proposed publication does not seem to have attracted enough support to proceed further.

Index Entries

  • Bible; new edition proposed search
  • Binny & Ronaldson (Philadelphia firm); as typefounders search
  • Delaplaine, Joseph; and new Bible edition search
  • Delaplaine, Joseph; letters from search
  • Draper, John search
  • Gilpin, Thomas, & Company (Brandywine, Pa., firm) search
  • Macklin, Thomas; and new Bible edition search
  • Murray, Draper, Fairman & Company (Philadelphia firm); and new Bible edition search
  • Murray, Draper, Fairman & Company (Philadelphia firm); identified search
  • Murray, Draper, Fairman & Company (Philadelphia firm); letters from search
  • subscriptions, for publications; Bibles search
  • Underwood, Thomas search