Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to James Dinsmore, 1 December 1802

To James Dinsmore

Washington Dec. 1. 1802.

Dear Sir

Your’s of Nov. 25 is recieved and I have ordered the patera wanting for the tea-room. with respect to the joists for the N. West wing of offices, I leave it to yourself to decide; only let there be no danger of failure for want of due strength. I am quite at a loss about the nailboys remaining with mr Stewart. they have long been a dead expense instead of a profit to me. in truth they require a rigour of discipline to make them do reasonable work, to which he cannot bring himself. on the whole I think it will be best for them also to be removed to mr Lilly’s. in that case it will be necessary for mr Lilly to have a stock of brads of every size for the buildings always in readiness and before hand, as at that distance it will not do to furnish them from hand to mouth. I will write to him on this subject that he may prepare for recieving them. it will be at any rate a nuisance removed from the house. when will you be ready for the Corinthian modillions and eggs & anchors? you must leave the moulding square which is to recieve the latter, because they will be made to fill up the quarter circle thus I am very much disposed to cover the terras at once with tin. I find that it may be done of the thickest tin for 18. Dollars a square; and it will be proof against fire. I presume mr Oldham has hardly made any progress in preparing to plank it, for want of plank. it may therefore lie for consideration. how does mr Fitch get on with the ballusters? does mr Perry keep him supplied with locust stocks for them?—if by the removal of the nailboys to mr Lilly’s you should cease to recieve money enough for your current purposes, let me know and I will give you a standing order on mr Higginbotham for supplies of cash as you may want them. Accept my best wishes.

Th: Jefferson

RC (ViU); at foot of text: “Mr: Dinsmore.”

yours of nov. 25: recorded in SJL as received 30 Nov., but not found. The patera was likely one of the circular rosettes applied to the areas between the triglyphs of the frieze in Monticello’s tea room. Pateras of the same design but of smaller size also were featured in the tea room’s cornice. TJ modeled the design after an illustration of the doric order found in the 1766 edition of Parallèle de l’architecture antique avec la moderne, by Roland Fréart de Chambray and Charles Errard (Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, Washington, D.C., 1952-59, 5 vols. description ends No. 4216; Vol. 37:114–15n). The image was from a building in Albano Laziale, near Rome, probably the church of Santa Maria della Stella, and TJ referred to the example several times in his notes and sketches on the north bow, his architectural term for the tea room (“Monticello: Notebook for Remodelling, [1794–1797],” “Monticello: Remodelling Notes, [begun 1796],” and “Monticello: Architectural Detail (North Bow), ca. 1805,” all in MHi; Nichols, Architectural Drawings description begins Frederick Doveton Nichols, Thomas Jefferson’s Architectural Drawings, Compiled and with Commentary and a Check List, Charlottesville, 1978 description ends , Nos. 143, 147b, and 176; Roland Fréart de Chambray, Parallèle de l’architecture antique avec la moderne suivi de Idée de la perfection de la peinture, eds., Frédérique Lemerle-Pauwels and Milovan Stanic [Paris, 2005], 72–3).

A letter of 1 Dec. from TJ to Gabriel lilly, recorded in SJL, has not been found.

For the entablature of Monticello’s parlor, TJ commissioned Washington artisan George Andrews to make composition ornaments, including modillions for the cornice, and egg and anchor ovolos. In his financial memoranda the president recorded payments to Andrews on 13 July 1802 and 21 Feb. 1803 (McLaughlin, Jefferson and Monticello description begins Jack McLaughlin, Jefferson and Monticello: The Biography of a Builder, New York, 1988 description ends , 290; MB description begins James A. Bear, Jr., and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767-1826, Princeton, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , 2:1077, 1092).

ballusters: the balusters may have been intended for any of a few different projects, the balustrade for the hall gallery, banisters for the staircases, or the balustrade for the roof (McLaughlin, Jefferson and Monticello description begins Jack McLaughlin, Jefferson and Monticello: The Biography of a Builder, New York, 1988 description ends , 265–6; Notes on Work to be Done by James Dinsmore, 24 Sep. 1804).

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