Short Glass Tumbler

Artist/Maker: Unknown

Created: 1810-1825

Origin/Purchase: America, possibly Pittsburgh

Materials: lead glass

Dimensions: H: 7.3 (2 7/8 in.); D (rim): 7 (2 3/4 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 1958

Accession Number: 1958-32-1

Historical Notes: "[M]alt liquors & cyder are my table drinks," wrote Jefferson to a friend in 1819.[1] 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.[2]

Tumblers were made and decorated in many styles. This tumbler has fourteen cut panels around its base surmounted by a band of vertical wheel-cut engraving. Numerous fragments of other kinds of tumblers have been recovered in archaeological excavations at Monticello.

Jefferson first recorded buying tumblers in 1769 when he ordered three dozen of them in the half-pint size.[3] In an 1801 letter to his agent in Philadelphia, Jefferson wrote from Monticello "if you could procure & send at the same time a couple of 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."[4] According to the inventory of Monticello made in 1826, "13 tumblers" remained in the house after Jefferson's death.[5]

-Text from Stein, Worlds, 342


  1. ^ Jefferson to Vine Utley, March 21, 1819, in PTJ:RS, 14:156-58. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  2. ^ G. Bernard Hughes, English, Scottish and Irish Table Glass: From the Sixteenth Century to 1820 (New York: Bramhall House, 1956), 333-34.
  3. ^ Jefferson, June 9, 1769, in MB, 1:19. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  4. ^ Jefferson to John Barnes, August 7, 1801, in PTJ, 35:31. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  5. ^ [Martha Jefferson Randolph?], "Inventory of the furniture in the house at Monticello," Coolidge Collection of Thomas Jefferson Manuscripts, Massachusetts Historical Society.