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Short Plain Jelly Glasses

Short Plain Jelly Glass. Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc.Artist/Maker: Unknown

Created: late 18th century

Origin/Purchase: England

Materials: glass

Dimensions: H: 10 (3 15/16 in.); D (rim): 6.5 (2 9/16 in.)

Location: Dining Room

Provenance: Thomas Jefferson; by descent to Margaret Randolph Taylor and Olivia Alexander Taylor; by bequest to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation in 1985

Accession Number: 1986-31-10

Historical Notes: At the end of his stay in France, Jefferson copied several of his favorite recipes. One of them explained how to make "Wine jellies." Boiled calves-feet or isinglass was combined with egg whites and a pint of madeira. The mixture was sweetened and flavored with lemon, cloves and nutmeg. "Strain it 2 or 3 times thro' a flannel till clear," wrote Jefferson; then, "Put it in glasses or moulds."1

In the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, the second course of dinner typically featured a number of sweet dishes such as cakes, custards, creams, and jellies. Although sometimes made in large, elaborate molds, jellies served in individual glasses were equally popular. Round, trumpet-shaped, and footed jelly glasses corresponded to other fashionable glassware in shape and decoration.2

Three different styles of Monticello glasses are known. Two are plain free-blown glasses, one with a knopped stem. A third type of free-blown jelly glass has cut decoration on the rim and bowl.

On August 18, 1791, in New York, Jefferson wrote in his memorandum book, "Pd. for jelly glasses 3. doz. 3[dollars]."3 Among the items inventoried at Monticello after his death were "21 cut & 3 plain jelly glasses."4

-Text from Stein, Worlds, 339

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