Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to John Trumbull, 13 November 1787

To John Trumbull

Paris Nov. 13. 1787.

Dear Sir

Both your favors of Oct. 30. and Nov. 2. came safely to hand, and I have the pleasure to know that my harpsichord is safely arrived at Rouen and is now on the road to Paris. I thank you also for your attention to the commission to Mr. Brown, and shall be contented to receive the pictures when you come yourself. If you could do me the favor also to bring me one of the copies taken without the pencil (I forget the hard name by which they call it; it is greek however) I should be glad of it. You can combine quality and price, as, like the rest of the world, I like to have good things at a small price. I would prefer one of the historical kind, if there be any, as I think I saw some. The time when you will find most of the officers here, whose portraits you wish to take, will be a little before Christmas, say the 10th. of December.—Mrs. Cosway is well. But her friends are not so. They are in continual agitation between the hopes of her stay, and the fear of her recall. A fatality has attended my wishes, and her and my endeavors to see one another more since she has been here. From the meer effect of chance, she has happened to be from home several times when I have called on her, and I, when she has called on me. I hope for better luck hereafter. I am with much esteem Dear Sir Your friend & servant,

Th: Jefferson

PrC (DLC).

The hard name by which they call it evidently proved an obstacle to others besides TJ: “The multiplying or copying pictures in oil colours by a mechanical and chymical process, as invented by Mr. [Joseph] Booth, was at first stiled POLYPLASIOSMOS, a Greek word, signifying multiplication. But the Gentlemen who have united themselves, with the inventor, into a Society, for the purpose of protecting and patronizing this ingenious art, have determined to design it, in future, by the title of POLYGRAPHIC: a term equally calculated to distinguish it from other attempts of copying Pictures; and, at the same time, more analogous, and more expressive of the invention in question, the grand object, and distinguishing property, or characteristic of which, is, to produce many pictures” (An Address to the Public, on the Polygraphic Art, or the Copying or Multiplying Pictures, in Oil Colours, by a Chymical and Mechanical Process, the Invention of Mr. Joseph Booth, Portrait Painter, London, the “Logographic Press,” [1788], p. 2).

Index Entries