Thomas Jefferson Papers

John McAllister & Son to Thomas Jefferson, 9 January 1815

From John McAllister & Son

Philada Jany 9th 18151


Your letter of 24th Ulto with a pair of Spectacles and their Set of Glasses was duly recd by mail—

The reason that [the] Glasses rendered indistinct vision and confused obje[cts] was, that the Centre of Convexity was not in the Centre of the Glass—at the time they were fitted up we were not fully aware of the necessity of having them so, and the workman who fitted them to the frames had Cut them down too much on one side—we herewith send in lieu of them others which you will find to be free of that fault.—Those in the frames are 16 Inches Focus—you will know the Focus of the others by the marks on their respective envelopes—

There is no charge for what we have done, and we regret that our former Error has deprived you of the use of the Glasses and given you the trouble of Sending them—

with sentiments of respect

John McAllister & Son

RC (MoSHi: TJC-BC); hole in manuscript; in a clerk’s hand; at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson Esq Monticello”; endorsed by TJ as received 20 Jan. 1815 and so recorded in SJL.

Filed with the RC of this letter, but possibly not originally enclosed with it, is a printed sheet headed “John McAllister and Son, Spectacle Manufacturers, No. 43, Chesnut Street, Philadelphia,” which the firm used when shipping a pair of spectacles and three sets of extra lenses, with blanks to be filled in with the focal distance of each set of lenses and instructions that as one’s vision worsened new lenses could be substituted for those in the frame “by unscrewing the small screws near the ends of the Front”; stating also that the firm sells glasses “in Gold, Silver, Tortoise-Shell, Plated, or Steel Frames, with Convex, Concave or Green Glasses, suitable for various eyes, and various sights,” with a variety of spectacle cases; that the lenses are carefully fitted to the individual, “as many injure their eyes by using glasses of an improper focus”; that customers ordering from a distance should send a sample of the lens worn most recently, “as the age does not afford a rule for judging of the sight”; that spectacles are supplied in assortments by the dozen to country storekeepers; and that, for customers ordering from a distance, “we have adopted the mode of fitting them up with several sets of extra glasses, comprising a variety of sights, from which a pair can be selected by the person for whom they are intended” (broadside in MoSHi: TJC-BC; undated; blanks not filled in; endorsed by TJ: “McAllister John & Son”).

1Reworked from “1814.”

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