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No article yet exists on candles. Below are references to candles compiled by Monticello researchers from the papers of Thomas Jefferson.
Primary Source References
1791 April 15. "Recd. from bank postnote for Adam Lindsay. Norf. 11.6 D. for 54 lb. myrtle candles. Inclosed it to him."1
1791 September 15. (Jefferson to Adam Lindsay). "...will perhaps induce me to trouble you annually, during my residence in Philadelphia, for the two articles of Myrtle wax candles...I will now ask the favor of you to procure for me, in the proper seasons 250 lb. of myrtle wax candles, moulded, and of the largest size you can find..."2
1791 December 4. (Adam Lindsay to Jefferson). "The person who makes the Candles has been sick, so that I was under the necessity of waiting his recovery and he cannot at present supply me entirely. I have sent you by the Sloop Alexander Hamilton of Norfolk Captn. Johnston—Three Boxes of Myrtle wax mould’d Candles, 5. to the lib.-weight 141 [livre tournois] at 1 sh. and Boxes 2/. each, and in about 10 days will ship you of the same 110 [livre tournois] of †4 moulded."3
1791 December 20. (Jefferson to Adam Lindsay). "Your favor of the 4th. inst. came duly to hand as did also the 3. boxes of candles by capt. Johnston. I shall, as you desire, await the remaining 110 ℔ to remit you the cost of the whole in one bill."4
1792 January 24. "Myrtle candles of last year out."5
1792 April 9. "Recd. from bank of U.S. a post bill for 24.5 payable to Adam Lindsay, to whom remitd. if for candles."6
1792 April 12. (Adam Lindsay to Jefferson). "Among those was myrtle wax and to a price that the wax only was 40 pr Cent higher than I before gave for Candles. This induced me to wait the fall of the market, which has not been less as yet."7
1792 November 4. (Jefferson to Adam Lindsay). "I must now repeat to you my annual sollicitation to procure and send me 200 ℔ myrtle wax candles. I do not know whether the mixing tallow with the wax be absolutely necessary. If not, I would wish them of the pure wax; but if some mixture be necessary, then as little as will do."8
1793 February 26. (Adam Lindsay to Jefferson). "By this time I hope you have received 6 Boxes Candles by the Schooner —— Capt Simpson. I intended them in Philadelphia two months ago—but Myrtle Wax is only bought at Market in small Quantities of 4 to 10 lb. from the Country people and their prices vary so much I was under the necessity to limit the maker to a certain price to avoid imposition. Respecting mixing Tallow with the Wax the maker says that some is absolutely necessary—but provided they cou’d be made without any mixture they wou’d run so much in burning as to be very unprofitable. There is a small proportion to what was in the others; inclosed is the Bill which is larger than your order, hope it will be of no consequence."9
1804 August 18. (Jefferson to George Jefferson). "...about 30 lb. of moulded tallow candles. Myrtle wax would be preferred but I presume they are not to be had."10
1804 October 12. "Inclosed sd. bill for 79.20 to John Marrast, at Norfolk for candles."11
- Bourne, Jonathan, and Vanessa Brett. Lighting in the Domestic Interior: Renaissance to Art Nouveau. London: Sotheby's, 1991.
- Caspall, John. Fire & Light in the Home Pre-1820. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Antique Collectors' Club, 1992.
- 1. MB, 2:816. The note in MB states these were the first bayberry candles Jefferson ever used; he bought them annually.
- 2. PTJ, 22:148.
- 3. Ibid., 22:376.
- 4. Ibid., 22:425.
- 5. MB, 2:863.
- 6. Ibid., 2:867.
- 7. PTJ, 23:409.
- 8. Ibid., 24:577.
- 9. Ibid., 25:270-271.
- 10. Massachusetts Historical Society.
- 11. Jefferson received 42 pounds of white and 110 pounds of green bayberry candles. MB, 2:11138.