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From Thomas Jefferson to Lucy Ludwell Paradise, 30 April 1789

To Lucy Ludwell Paradise

Paris Apr. 30. 1789.

Dear Madam

I have now the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your favor of the 14th. inst. I am in hopes Mr. Paradise will be persuaded to remain here till the deed comes, tho’ it will be with difficulty. I have not yet received my permission to go to America: but I expect it daily. However I may very likely be not gone the middle of May, and consequently may receive my books from Pinetti’s sale before I go. Since you have been so good as to take on yourself the trouble of this commission, I must beg leave to add two more books to my list.

1105.Dioscoride della Medicinal materia de Longiano 8vo. 10/.

6625. Theophrasti historia plantarum à Gaza. Lat. 8vo. 7/6.

I would not chuse to go higher than the prices I have marked either for these or the books formerly noted. Your business in America shall be done as you desire. I expect Mr. Short the ensuing week. My daughters present you their affectionate respects, and I have the honor to be with sentiments of the most perfect esteem & attachment Dear Madam Your most obedt. & most humble servt,

Th: Jefferson

PrC (DLC).

In referring to the famous Pinelli sale as Pinettis (as he did more than once), TJ probably confused the name by transference from that of Giuseppe Pinetti (1750-c.1800), an Italian conjuror who dabbled in physics and aeronautics and whose Amusemens physiques, et différentes expériences divertissantes, composées et exécutées, tant à Paris que dans les diverses Cours de l’Europe (Paris, 1785) was in his library (Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–1955, 4 vols. description ends No. 1169). TJ had evidently given Mrs. Paradise a list of his desiderata when she left Paris early in 1789, authorizing her to “get somebody to buy some books … at Pinetti’s sale … under £10” (TJ to Trumbull, 15 Mch. 1789). He obtained only four of those listed, a fact more disappointing to Mrs. Paradise than to him, and while he acceded to her suggested bid on item number 7380 (“Diodori Siculi Bibliotheca Historica, ab Obsopoeo, Gr. Colon. 1539, 4to.—Editio princeps”) as indicated in her missing letter of 31 Mch. 1789, his final word was one that Mrs. Paradise could have pondered with advantage: “Sensible that I labour grievously under the malady of Bibliomanie, I submit to the rule of buying only at reasonable prices” (TJ to Mrs. Paradise, 6, 30 Apr. and 1 June 1789; Mrs. Paradise to TJ, 5, 15, and 26 May 1789).

The sale catalogue that TJ employed was one probably prepared by Samuel Paterson, entitled Bibliotheca Pinelliana: A Catalogue of the Magnificent and Celebrated Library of Maffei Pinelli, Late of Venice: Comprehending an unparalleled Collection of the Greek, Roman, and Italian Authors, from the Origin of Printing: With many of the Earliest Editions printed upon Vellum, and finely Illuminated (London, 1789; priced copy in NjP). This catalogue listed nearly 13,000 items and was based upon the owner’s catalogue in six volumes, prepared by the bibliographer Jacopo Morelli and entitled Bibliotheca Maphaei Pinellii Veneti Magno Jam Studio Collecta (Venice, 1787; NjP). Shortly after this catalogue was issued, the entire collection was purchased by a London dealer, James Edwards, and his associates, Robson and Clarke, for about £7,000. The priced sale catalogue in the Princeton University Library has this manuscript note in an unidentified hand at p. 538:

“Total amount of the sale
First part 6786 . .  1 . . 0
Second part 1063 . . 19 . . 0
£7850 . .  0 . . 0

N.B. The Paris sale in April 1791 (of only 636 Lots) yielded £7076 ‥ 17 ‥ 6 which sum is within £800 of the whole Pinelli Library.”

James Robson, one of the associates in the sale of the Pinelli library, was the one with whom Mrs. Paradise dealt in executing TJ’s commission. On the occasional bibliographical confusion of the great 18th century collection of Maffei Pinelli with the presumably uncatalogued collection of Giovan Vincenzo Pinelli (1535–1601), see Archer Taylor, Book Catalogues: Their Varieties and Uses (Chicago, 1957), p. 98.

Five days before the present letter was written, TJ purchased from Froullé editions of the works of Pedanius Dioscorides in Latin (Paris, 1549), Italian (Venice, 1573), and French. At the same time he acquired from Froullé a folio of Theophrastus’ Historia plantarum (Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–1955, 4 vols. description ends Nos. 1053, 1055).

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