Thomas Jefferson Papers

William J. Coffee to Thomas Jefferson, 25 June 1822

From William J. Coffee

New york 25–June. 1822

Honor’d Sir

The receiveing a letter from you was a Pleaseing favour which I had look’d for som time, and in answer as relates to the Engraving of the ground Plan of the University the letter that accompanys this will put you in Possession of wat you request to know.

Mr. m. is a Gentleman of the first abilitys in that art in this City and the date of Estimate will show that I had not neglected the favour of your Commission, and the delay, has been from a wish to Inform you of my Progress in the work for the University. as respects the ornaments for Bedford I shall Promptly attend to them but must beg your Politenss to give me the following Information for If I do understand your letter am suspicious of som mistake in the ornaments for the Pavilion No 1. which must have happened through looking at the same order in the Portico at monticello hal a Note tells me of 30 mettle Heads but no ox Sculls. Should there be any Sculls in the Same frize with human Heads, If there ought to be I am rong having Cast in mettle 12 human Heads for that Pavilion. In the example by Nicholson from the Baths of Dioclesian no ox scull is Shown or can I find it so in aney other work that I have looked at in fact this mistake of mine If it is one would Extend to Every frize of that order and Example, and tharefore I see thee Necessity of your opinion, the way I look’d at the Subject was that you Intended to ornament two rooms at Bedford One as in the North Easte Portico at monticello the other as in your dining Room, in which case it would be the human Bust alone in one entablature, and in the other entablature alternately an ox scull and Pateras, as in Palladeos Doric

It is som wat Painfull to think that your 3d Cistern should be doubtfull it was my thoughts & hopes that it would Prove the best of the three Cisterns, and If it should Prove faulty it is moste likely to be in the Bottom oweing to thinness this will be soon remedyed by Laying on ¾ of an Inch more on the old, but I should be Inclined to think the fault in the Conductor’s

Farther Speaking of the Engraving I think the Price a little High much more so then I had any Ideae, however nothing less will do have seen two artist (the first and the second) rate man the Price I found the same I tharfore had no doubt who should have the work should you Conclude to give an order it may be to me or to mr. M. or should youe Please to have the Drawing returned it is in my Possession. The time it would take by the Engraver would be about two months

Sir youe will Please to receiv my Dutifully Respects and wishes for your good Health

W. J. Coffee

NB. In1 your Letter you do not say that the miterd halves are for outer or iner angles or Boath will you be so good as to say

RC (DLC); written on a sheet folded to form four pages, with letter on pp. 1–2, postscript following enclosed memorandum on p. 3, and endorsement on p. 4; beneath signature: “To Thos. Jefferson, Esqr”; endorsed by TJ as received 5 July 1822 and so recorded in SJL; with calculations by TJ beneath endorsement related to the cost of architectural ornaments for the parlor at Poplar Forest:

“75.  f
.36   cents



Enclosed letter not found.

mr. m.: Peter Maverick. By the portico at monticello hal and north easte portico, Coffee means the Entrance Hall at Monticello. pateras, in this context, are ornaments or decorations “resembling a shallow round dish” (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: “NB. n.”

Index Entries

  • architecture; architectural ornaments search
  • cisterns; at Monticello search
  • Coffee, William John; and cisterns at Monticello search
  • Coffee, William John; and University of Virginia ground plan search
  • Coffee, William John; fashions ornaments for TJ search
  • Coffee, William John; letters from search
  • Diocletian (Roman emperor); baths of search
  • Maverick, Peter; and University of Virginia ground plan search
  • Monticello (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); architectural ornaments at search
  • Monticello (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); cisterns at search
  • Monticello (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); Dining Room (Breakfast Room) search
  • Monticello (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); Entrance Hall search
  • Nicholson, Peter search
  • Palladio, Andrea; referenced search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); architectural ornaments for search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); parlor at search
  • Virginia, University of; Construction and Grounds; ground plan of search
  • Virginia, University of; Construction and Grounds; ornamental work search
  • Virginia, University of; Construction and Grounds; Pavilion I search