Jefferson Signed Invitation with An Extremely Rare Piece of His China, Acquired from His Heir

A 1p invitation, measuring 7.5” x 10”, dated December 6, 1805. Reads, in full, “Th: Jefferson Requests the Favour of Dr. Mitchell to Dine with him on Monday the 9th instant. Dinner will be on the table precisely at sun set. Dec 6: 1805. The favour of an answer is asked.” The document is folded into sixths and has a wax seal present showing a tiny loss where it was adhered. This invitation is signed by Jefferson but is filled out in his secretary's hand. It has a rubber stamp, not touching any text, “Autograph Collection of Dr. Max Thorek Chicago”. Endorsed over the address panel, presumably in Mitchell’s hand, in full, "Th. Jefferson Rec’d Dec. 6 & answ'd affirmatively same day - 1805 - Company present Mumielle the Envoy from Tunis & his two secretaries & Mess’rs Smith, Logan and Adams of the Senate, with Mess’rs Eppes, T. J. Randolph & Nicholson, of the H. of R."

The invitation is accompanied by an extremely rare serving bowl measuring 9” x 12”, approximately 1.75” deep. An oval bowl with scalloped edges, having a double-banded cobalt border and neoclassical shield form medallion studded with 13 gilt stars surrounding the Jefferson "J" monogram at the center. Surmounted by a knight's helm with scroll and floral vine detail. All hand-painted.  This is a very unusual piece of China and the only example we have seen in this format. Auction records for far less impressive China have topped $30,000, at a time before the market uptick. 

The china came directly from Jefferson’s great-grandson, Thomas Jefferson Coolidge (1831-1920). In 1871, Coolidge brought “a wild promontory surrounded by the ocean known as Goldsmith’s Farm. The 116 acres cost a staggering 12,000 dollars then. It has long since been known as Coolidge Point. In 1824, Bostonian Joseph Coolidge, Jr. (1798-1879) visited Monticello and was introduced to Thomas Jefferson’s granddaughter, Ellen Wales Randolph. They were married on May 27, 1825 at Monticello and lived in Boston. Mr. Coolidge was involved in the china trade at Heard & Co. His son, T. J. Coolidge, was a successful businessman. He was involved in textiles, banking, railroads, electricity, and other ventures. Like his great grandfather Thomas Jefferson, he served as United States Ambassador to France in 1892. Among the contents of his house were found various items that belonged to our third president, and this magnificent piece of armorial porcelain is one of them. 

It is not a stretch to surmise that at this very dinner with Dr. Mitchell, Eppes, and T. J. Randolph, this very bowl was used. One cannot help but wonder what role Sally Hemmings, Jefferson’s paramour, had at this dinner and what connection to this bowl. This is especially true because of the Eppes and Randolph connection, who are intricately tied to Hemmings, and the whole lore behind her. An incredible combination of items that cannot be duplicated. This is a legendary collection of utmost importance and items from it are revered by collectors.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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January 10, 2024 10:30 AM EST
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Bid Increments
From: To: Increments:
$0 $99 $10
$100 $299 $20
$300 $499 $25
$500 $999 $50
$1,000 $1,999 $100
$2,000 $2,999 $200
$3,000 $4,999 $250
$5,000 $9,999 $500
$10,000 $19,999 $1,000
$20,000 $49,999 $2,500
$50,000 + $5,000