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Tall Tumblers

Tall Glass Tumbler. Thomas Jefferson Foundation, IncArtist/Maker: Unknown[1]

Created: 1770-1810

Origin/Purchase: England or America

Materials: glass

Dimensions: H: 8.9 (3 1/2 in.); D (rim): 7.6 (3 in.)

Location: Dining Room

Provenance: Thomas Jefferson; by descent to Virginia and Nicholas Trist; by descent to Frances Maury Burke; by gift or purchase to Rose Gouverneur Hoes; by descent to Laurence G. hoes; by bequest to Camilla Hoes Pope; by purchase to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation in 1984

Accession Number: 1984-44-1

Historical Notes: "Malt liquors and cyder are my table drinks," wrote Jefferson to a friend in 1819.[2] During his lifetime, tumblers were a common drinking vessel for beer and cider. The low, usually cylindrical and slightly tapering glasses were adapted from rounded silver cups of the same name as early as the seventeenth century.[3]

Tumblers were made and decorated in many styles. This example was mold-blown with vertical fluting extending more than half way up its sides. Numerous fragments of other kinds of tumblers have been recovered in archaeological excavations at Monticello.

Jefferson first recorded buying tumblers in 1767 when he ordered three dozen of them in the half-pint size.[4] In an 1801 letter to his agent in Philadelphia, Jefferson wrote from Monticello "if you could procure and send at the same time a couple dozen of [barrel?] glass tumblers (I mean of this shape[a rough outline of a barrel-shaped tumbler] they would be acceptable as none of any kind are to be had here."[5] According to the inventory of Monticello made in 1826, "13 tumblers" remained in the house after Jefferson's death.[6]


  1. This article is based on Stein, Worlds, 342.
  2. Thomas Jefferson to Vine Utley, Monticello, March 21, 1819, in L&B, 15:187.
  3. G. Bernard Hughes, English, Scottish and Irish Table Glass: From the Sixteenth Century to 1820 (New York: Bramhall House, 1956), 333-334.
  4. Jefferson, June 9, 1767, in MB. Thomas Jefferson Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.
  5. Jefferson to John Barnes, Monticello, August 7, 1801, in PTJ:, 35:31.
  6. [Martha Jefferson Randolph?], "Inventory of the furniture in the house at Monticello," Thomas Jefferson Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.


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