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Watches

During his retirement years, Thomas Jefferson was surrounded by his twelve grandchildren, and he took great joy in pleasing them. He traditionally gave each grandchild a watch, and directed in his will that this practice should continue after his death. Although he owned and gave gold watches as presents, during most of his lifetime Jefferson customarily wore a silver pocket watch.

Primary Source References

1783 January 14. "Pd. Clarke for mending watch 3/9."[fn]MB, 1:526.[/fn]

1783 March 1. "Pd ... mending watch 3/9."[fn]Ibid., 1:528.[/fn]

1783 April 10. "Pd ... Wood mending watch 18/ ..."[fn]Ibid., 1:530.[/fn]

1783 November 21. "pd. for watch chain 7/6."[fn]Ibid., 1:540.[/fn]

1786 March 14. "Pd. for a watchchain 14/ ..."[fn]Ibid., 1:612.[/fn]

1786 April 11. "Pd ... needle for watch 42/."[fn]Ibid., 1:620.[/fn]

1786 June 1. "Pd Meyer balance for watch, and key."[fn]This gold timepiece was made by Louis Chantrot who worked under the name of Meyer. Jefferson bought these watches for James Madison and Nathaniel Barrett, as well. Ibid., 1:628.[/fn]

1788 January 1. "Pd. Chntrot for a watch ..."[fn]Ibid., 1:723.[/fn]

1789 March 6. "Pd Meyer for works of an alarm watch."[fn]Ibid., 1:727.[/fn]

1789 April 12. "Pd ... Chanterot, watch work in ful."[fn]Ibid., 1:729.[/fn]

1789 April 12. "Pd Charpenter for 6. spiral springs."[fn]Ibid.[/fn]

1789 May 13. "Pd. ... for watch chains 11f4."[fn]Ibid., 1:733.[/fn]

1789 September 7. "Pd for a watch chain."[fn]Ibid., 1:741.[/fn]

1791 April 25. "Leslie mendg watch key &c."[fn]Ibid., 2:816.[/fn]

1791 November 22. "Pd. Voight mendg watch 3.D."[fn]Ibid., 2:838.[/fn]

1793 August 10. "Pd Voight for mending & cleaning watch 4.67."[fn]Ibid., 2:900.[/fn]

1793 December 30. "Pd Voight mendg. watches 1.D."[fn]Ibid., 2:908.[/fn]

1794 June 2. "... watchmaker 8/."[fn]Ibid., 2:916.[/fn]

1797 March 12. "... Chaudron cleaning watch 2.D."[fn]Ibid., 2:956.[/fn]

1798 February 10. "... for mending watch 1."[fn]Ibid., 2:979.[/fn]

1798 March 5. "pd Voight for mending watch 3.D."[fn]Ibid., 2:980.[/fn]

1800 March 19. "pd Voigt for mending watch 1.5."[fn]Ibid., 2:1015.[/fn]

1806 July 11. (Jefferson to Henry Voight). "A friend of mine has requested of me to procure for him a plain, but good silver watch, with a second hand, and the works capped to protect them from dust."[fn]Coolidge Collection of Thomas Jefferson Manuscripts, Massachusetts Historical Society. Transcription available at Founders Online.[/fn]

1808 January 6. "Voight for 85. D. for a watch."[fn]This was a gold watch that Jefferson gave to Ann Cary Randolph. MB, 2:1218.[/fn]

1808 April 11. "Pd. Joseph Daugherty for Rigden for mending watch 7.D."[fn]Ibid., 2:1223.[/fn]

1808 May 18. "pd Pitman for mending watch .50."[fn]Ibid., 2:1225.[/fn]

1809 February 20. "Pd ... Kent for cleaning watch 1.50."[fn]Ibid., 2:1241.[/fn]

1811 June 3. "Repaid Mr. Patterson 5.D. which he pd. Rigden mending watches."[fn]Ibid., 2:1266.[/fn]

1813 May 20. (Jefferson to Thomas Voight). "[C]ould a gold watch, good and moderately ornamented for a lady, be now got in Philadelphia, for a moderate price, say from 80. to 100.D.?"[fn]PTJ:RS, 6:117-18. Transcription available at Founders Online.[/fn]

1813 July 1. (Thomas Voight to Jefferson). "... In Concequence of the War, watches have taken a Verry Considerable Rise; and I find that I Can get no Good ones of that disscription, such as I Could Recommend, for less than a $100—or a 110 Dollars."[fn]PTJ:RS, 6:258. Transcription available at Founders Online.[/fn]

1813 July 30. (Jefferson to Thomas Voight). "... I will now ask the favor of you to procure for me such a gold watch as I described in my letter of May 20. that is to say, excellent in it's quality, but only moderately ornamented, just enough to make it fit for a lady. on a similar occasion of such a watch from your father in 1808. mr Short procured for me a chain of Paris gold (in several strands of very minute links), price 18.D. and a chrystal seal, not set, but in a solid peice, of the form in the margin price 2.D. I should be glad to receive such now with the watch."[fn]PTJ:RS, 6:338-39. Transcription available at Founders Online.[/fn]

1817 October 26. (Jefferson to John Wayles Eppes). "I have procured from Leshot for Mrs. Eppes a very elegant watch and of the very best construction being of the kind called a cylindre horizontal, the only inconvenience of which is that they require being touched with oil a little oftener than the others. He had no watch of the common construction which was proper for a lady. He required 40.D. boot, allowing only 30. D. for the gold of the old watch, the works being entirely past use. ... I know that the Richmond watchmakers are as absolute murderers of a watch as your neighbor watchmaker."[fn]The Thomas Jefferson Papers, Special Collections, University of Virginia Library.[/fn]

1819 April 8. "Drew on James Leitch in favor of Louis Leschot for 165.64 for watches."[fn]MB, 2:1353.[/fn]

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