Jefferson’s Silver Collection at Monticello
When Thomas Jefferson married the young widow Martha Wayles Skelton in January 1772, she brought to their household a number of silver items acquired during her first marriage, including a silver ladle, one dozen teaspoons, one dozen tablespoons, two pairs of “salts” and four “salt shovels.”
After Jefferson arrived in Paris in August 1784, he set about acquiring a number of silver items necessary for his home. Among his first purchases were two groups of “table furniture,” which included “1 doz. spoons and 12 silver forks,” followed by an additional “1 doz. silver forks” and “1 doz. tablespoons.” While in France Jefferson also purchased four silver plates, four “Casserolles,” an exquisite coffee urn, and a pair of silver goblets fashioned after his own design. The silver pieces were shipped to America in 1790 with Jefferson’s other household goods.
In the years of his presidency and retirement, Jefferson acquired a number of other silver pieces for use at Monticello, including cream pots, a set of dessert spoons, and an askos modeled after a Roman pouring vessel. In 18o6 he was willed two silver cups by his late friend and teacher George Wythe, which he directed be melted down and formed into tumblers, now known as the “Jefferson cups.”