Filing Presses

Filing Press made of cherry and walnut. Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc.Cherry and Walnut Press 

Artist/Maker: Unspecified

Created: c. 1800-1820

Origin/Purchase: Monticello Joinery

Materials: Cherry and walnut

Dimensions: 88.1 x 48.3 x 32.4 (34 11/16 x 19 x 12 3/4 in.)

Location: Monticello Visitor Center

Provenance: Thomas Jefferson; by descent to Thomas Jefferson Randolph; by loan to George Tucker; by descent to Dr. Janet Kimbrough; (1) by gift to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation in 1970; (2) by descent to Mrs. Cynthia K. Barlowe

Accession Number: 1970-85

Mahogany Press

Artist/Maker: Unspecified

Created: c. 1800-1820

Origin/Purchase: Monticello Joinery

Materials: mahogany 

Dimensions: 88.3 x 52.1 x 32.9 (34 3/4 x 20 1/2 x 14 1/8 in.)

Location: Monticello Visitor Center

Provenance: Thomas Jefferson; by descent to Thomas Jefferson Randolph; by loan to George Tucker; by descent to Dr. Janet Kimbrough; by descent to Mrs. Cynthia K. Barlowe

Historical Notes: Jefferson was not only a prolific correspondent, but also was an exemplary recordkeeper. With the help of various copying presses, he was able to produce copies of his own letters. These copies were kept in more than six presses, made by the Monticello joinery especially for filing. In addition to the letters that he wrote and received, Jefferson also kept law cases, papers of the old Congress, state papers, household accounts, plantation papers, pocket memorandum books, bank accounts, diplomas, and documents that he used in preparing Notes on the State of Virginia.

Five of the original presses are known today. Each consists of a rectangular cabinet with fixed shelves resting on a wide plinth containing a drawer. Without feet, the base sits directly on the floor. The presses feature construction details characteristic of the Monticello joinery. For example, just as on the work table, one of the presses has a drawer with a scratch bead at the top and bottom, but not on the sides. The shelves are notched to fit into the sides of the cabinet. These presses and another, which contained Jefferson's correspondence, were loaned to George Tucker by Thomas Jefferson Randolph. The correspondence was returned, but Tucker kept the filing presses, which have descended in his family.

- Text from Stein, Worlds, 294.

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