Thomas Jefferson Papers

John Barnes to Thomas Jefferson, 8 July 1817

From John Barnes

George Town Coa 8th July 1817.

Dear Sir—

with referance to Mr L. Leschuts 7 watches

say 5 Single Capt a $40 is  200 } is 320 { say $2 Each for
2 double d   60 120 of 14 regulating $306 nt

in order then to try their real merit, and worth—I placed one of the five said to be No 486. on inspection—had no Number—but Morris Tobias London—Mr Eckles—one of the first watch makers—or rather menders—in George Town and man of good Character—at very 1st sight pronounced it of Genevian make—and made—for sale only—like onto Peter Pindars—Raisors—not for Use—inquiring1 the price—I told him for the present, was a secret. all I wishd of him was to put the Contents in the best order and time. and withal to furnish me particular Minute of its, imperfections and to say what its real worth was—between the Seller & buyer—in a day or two I expect his Candid Report—Under this mode of proceeding I purpose to treat with him, on each watch—at present he doesnt know I am possessed of any other—and lest I may have bought the Rabit—I intend to dispose of them seperately. in order to avoid a flemish Accot in Speculating in an Article I am no judge2 of—I am still pursuaded Mr Leschuts has not charged an extra profit, but to prove—he is neither the maker—nor the finisher—but the Vender Only

or rather as Mr Eckles—a watch mender—the charge here for regulating a new watch $2.50 or $3—

In course of 10 or 12 days I purpose purchasing a Cash draft here—on a Bank at New York—in my favr for said $306. and endorse it payable to Louis Leschut—or Order and transmit it to Charlottesville under Cover to you thro fear of Accident.—

excuse my troubling you with these particulars

very Respectfully—your most obed servant

John Barnes,

PS. I do think after all Mr Leschut ought to allow me the diffn of half a dollr on each but I do not insist upon it—ie, his books are not favorable for complying with any such requests—

July 11th Mr Eckles has just now handed me his report and opinion (what was to be expected—) that these kind of watches are very ordinary and not worth more than $40.—so far I think—he is correct—and that I will not be able to dispose of it for more—perhaps I may add—his expences for regulating it say $2.50 and glad to be let off so easy in so adventrous a speculation—

RC (ViU: TJP-ER); with first postscript adjacent to and beneath signature, and dated postscript on verso of address leaf; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr Monticello”; endorsed by TJ as received 15 July 1817 and so recorded in SJL.

mr eckles: Charles E. Eckel (Catherine B. Hollan, Virginia Silversmiths, Jewelers, Watch- and Clockmakers, 1607–1860, Their Lives and Marks [2010], 246). A humorous poem by “peter Pindar” [John Wolcot] tells the story of a peddler who sells cheap razors. When confronted on their apparent inability to do what they were designed to do, he retorts that the razors were designed not to shave, but to sell ([Wolcot], Farewell Odes. for the year 1786. by Peter Pindar, Esq. [London, 1786], 16–20). bought the rabit (rabbit): gotten a bad deal. A flemish account has a negative balance (OED description begins James A. H. Murray, J. A. Simpson, E. S. C. Weiner, and others, eds., The Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed., 1989, 20 vols. description ends ).

1Manuscript: “inquring.”

2Manuscript: “jude.”

Index Entries

  • banks; in New York search
  • Barnes, John; handles financial transactions search
  • Barnes, John; letters from search
  • Eckel, Charles E.; as watchmaker search
  • Leschot, Louis A.; as watchmaker search
  • Tobias, Morris; as watchmaker search
  • watches; sold for L. A. Leschot search
  • Wolcot, John; referenced search