Historical Notes: Jefferson preferred to buy drawing instruments from the best English makers. In 1786, while living in Paris, he ordered four instruments from England. His list included:
"A pair of brass dividers, 6. Inches long, with a leg to slide out. A draw pen, and pencil leg, both made to slide into the leg of the dividers occasionally...they have these in the mathematical shops in London. A pair of brass dividers with a moveable center, for reducing draughts...I think they have been not long invented, and are under a patent."
The large dividers, ruling-pen tip, lead-holder tip, and proportional dividers that are in this set are probably the ones sent to Jefferson from London.
After he left Europe, Jefferson continued to patronize English mathematical shops, in particular William & Samuel Jones. From that firm Jefferson purchased George Adams the Younger's Geometrical and Graphical Essays (1803), which contained a catalogue of instruments and their prices. In an 1806 letter to William & Samuel Jones, Jefferson placed an order for two compasses, and referenced the catalogue's illustrations: "2 pair of hair compasses, one larger one small. [Adams' geom. & graph. essays.] Pl.1.fig.L&H." The compasses were sent to Jefferson in October 1807 and are likely the two in this set.