Joseph Donath was a Philadelphia merchant who supplied Thomas Jefferson with glass. His place of business was located at 28 South Front Street. The store is listed as Josiah Donath & Company in James Hardie's 1794 Philadelphia Directory,1 and listed as Joseph Donath & Co., with James Mazurie as a partner, in Edmund Hogan's 1795 Prospect of Philadelphia.2
Thomas Jefferson ordered glass from Donath on several occasions between 1792 and 1807. For glass ordered between 1792 and 1795, Jefferson recorded paying Donath a total of $242.46.3 Jefferson's memorandum books show no payment records for orders made in 1804 and 1807.
In ordering from Donath, Jefferson regularly specified that he wanted Bohemian glass.4 In a 1798 letter to James Madison, Jefferson wrote that he had forwarded Madison's order for window glass, and requested "Bohemian glass from Donath."5
Primary Source References
1792 November 16. (Jefferson to Donath). "I shall be obliged to you to import for me Bohemian glass of the kind which you deliver at 16. Dollars the hundred square feet, and of the following sizes...."6
1795 August 12. (Jefferson to Donath). "I shall have occasion about midsummer of the next year for 250. panes of Bohemian glass of 18. inches square, of the middle of the three qualities as to thickness which you noted to me as costing in Philadelphia 20. cents per square foot."7
1795 September 16. (Jefferson to Donath). "I sent you but a rough guess of the quantity I should want. Finding now that it is necessary to be more exact, I have estimated my wants with more care, ... 350. panes of Bohemian glass 18. inches square. 25. panes of do. 18. by 24. inches. to be of 1½ thickness."8
1796 October 2. (Jefferson to Donath). "My order was dated Oct. 20. 95. and was for 25. panes of 18. by 24. and 600. panes of 18. by 12 I. ... I shall have occasion for about 200. panes 12. I. square of the same quality."9
1804 July 13. (Donath to Jefferson). "Agreeably to your orders of the 24 Ulto I have shipped on board the Schooner Caroline one box of glass 12 by 15. contg. 77 lights."10
1807 October 9. (Jefferson to Donath). "Presuming you are still in the line in which I formerly knew & dealt with you, I take the liberty of applying to you for 250 panes of glass 18. I. by 12 I. and 150 panes 12. I. square, ... Hamburg or Bohemian glass of the middle thickness."11
2. Edmund Hogan, The Prospect of Philadelphia,and Check on the Next Directory (Philadelphia: Bailey, 1795), 115. Donath apparently continued in business at this location at least through 1813. Around 1809, Donath's partner, James Mazurie, appears to have set up a second store at 59 North Fourth Street, but Donath's name is never listed at the same address in any of the directories.
4. Two kinds of glass are mentioned in the Jefferson-Donath correspondence: Bohemian glass, the type Jefferson preferred, and German glass, which was acceptable in the absence of the former. See, e.g., Jefferson to Donath, October 9, 1807, Library Company of Philadelphia. Transcription available at Founders Online.
5. Jefferson to Madison, May 10, 1798, in PTJ, 30:343. Transcription available at Founders Online. See also Madison to Jefferson, April 29, 1798, in PTJ, 30:311-12. Transcription available at Founders Online.