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Another Historic Auction of President Jefferson’s Madeira in 1841

September 20, 2016 Leave a comment

Advertisement from Commercial Adviser, November 30, 1841. [1]

Advertisement from Commercial Adviser, November 30, 1841. [1]

Last year I wrote about Historic Auctions of Thomas Jefferson’s Madeira.  In this series of posts I describe four auctions containing Madeira attributed to Thomas Jefferson.  They are the 1997 Sotheby’s auction of Thomas Jefferson’s three bottles of Madeira, the 1890 Wethered estate sale, the 1852 auction of Josiah Lee’s wine cellar, and the 1839 auction of John Gadsby’s extensive wine collection.  I have just found a fifth auction containing a parcel of Thomas Jefferson’s Madeira.

It is largely known that bottles of wine claimed to have been owned by Thomas Jefferson’s were auctioned off in 1987.  We now know that these bottles were faked by Hardy Rodenstock.  In 1997, three bottles of Thomas Jefferson Madeira were auctioned off without much scrutiny because the labels matched the published description of bottles served by Douglas H. Thomas in the early 20th century.  Thus there is no reason to doubt that these three bottles of Madeira came from the parcel owned by Douglas H. Thomas.  There is, however, no documentary evidence that Thomas Jefferson ever owned the bottles Douglas H. Thomas so carefully served.

John Gadsby’s wine was first auctioned off during his retirement in 1839.  As the proprietor of Gadsby’s Tavern in Alexandria, Virginia, and the National Hotel, in Washington, DC, John Gadsby acquired a massive 10,000 bottle collection.  His death in 1844 prompted a final series of wine auctions.   The wine cellar of Josiah Lee, the notable Madeira collector, was auctioned off in 1852.  Finally, Douglas H. Thomas purchased his bottles in 1890 at the sale of the Wethered family estate.

Heretofore unknown to me, on December 17, 1841, wine belonging to “a gentleman going to Europe” were put up for auction.  This auction consisted of a significant volume of Madeira in bottles both imported privately from Madeira and purchased in America.  Of the later bottles, they were “purchased at different times from private stocks in this city [New York City]”.  This included the oldest parcel which was a dozen bottles of wine that was “procured in Madeira, imported in 1822, and must then have been 80 years in bottle”.  With a century of age that would make the Madeira from 1740 or earlier.

Included in the private stocks is the “do 1811, imported by President Jefferson”.  This lot could have been purchased at the John Gadsby auction in 1839 which was held at the City Hotel in New York City.  Now there are no vintage, imported, or bottling dates of 1811 amongst the Jefferson Madeira advertised in the 1839 auction.  However, when John Gadsby’s cellar was auctioned off in 1844, the advertised lots were more specific and include “Mark on Cork, O. M. Y. W. – Superior old Madeira, from Newton, Gordon, Murdock & Co., imported expressly for President Jefferson, in 1807, and bottled in 1811; bought by J. Gadsby in 1819.”

Thus the Europe bound gentleman could have owned the 1807 “O.M.Y.W.” bottled in 1811.  Newspaper accounts of the auction results passed over the Thomas Jefferson bottles.[2]  Instead they focused in on the parcel of “Cole’s Madeira”, which was recorked in 1800.  This 18th century wine sold for $117 per dozen.  As the most expensive Madeira sold, it was calculated that 14,000 bottles could buy the entire United States Bank stock valued at $35,000,000.

What happened to the gentleman’s dozen bottles of Jefferson Madeira remains a mystery.


[1] Advertisement. Date: Tuesday, November 30, 1841 Paper: Commercial Advertiser (New York, New York) Volume: XLIV Page: 3

[2]Unparalleled Distress in New-York. Date: Monday, December 27, 1841 Paper: Boston Courier (Boston, Massachusetts) Volume: XV Issue: 1844 Page: 1

“Worth a Dollar a Drop”: The Thomas Jefferson Madeira of Douglas H. Thomas

February 10, 2015 1 comment

This is the final of four posts about historic auctions of Madeira attributed to Thomas Jefferson.  In this post I explore the history of the vintage 1800 Jefferson Madeira purchased by Douglas H. Thomas in 1890.  It was bottles from this purchase that Sotheby’s auctioned off in 1997.  I must thank Mannie Berk, The Rare Wine Co., for looking into the history of these bottles and pointing out the description by Charles Bellows.

Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson, Charlottesville, Va. c 1900-1906. Library of Congress.

Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson, Charlottesville, Va. c 1900-1906. Library of Congress.

In May 1997, Sotheby’s auctioned off two partially filled and one empty bottles of Madeira once “belonging to President Thomas Jefferson”.  These bottles were previously owned by Douglas H. Thomas who purchased them at auction. This auction took place on April 24, 1890, comprising the art collection and other effects of the late John Wethered.  John Wethered had been involved in the manufacture of woolen goods and also served as a Representative from Maryland to Congress.[1] The auction took place at the Wethered family estate of Ashland or “Ashlyn” near Cantonsville, Maryland.

Excerpt from the "Art Collection of the late John Wethered". [3]

Excerpt from the “Art Collection of the late John Wethered”. [3]

The early auction advertisement from April 15, 1890, describes the types of items in the residence, the “special oil paintings and engravings”, as well as the three coach horses, a cow, and a calf.[2]  No lots of wine were included which reflects the focus on the extensive collection of paintings.  A description of the auction appeared on April 25, 1890, in the article Art Collection of the late John Wethered. [3]   This article states that attendees “did some lively bidding for ‘a few bottles of rare old Madeira and Sherry wine from the estate of the late Philip Frank Thomas and whisky purchased at a sale of President Jefferson’s effects in 1843.'” The article incorrectly states Philip Frank Thomas instead of Philip Evan Thomas.  Philip Frank Thomas passed away on October 2, 1890, having been a Governor of Maryland and Secretary of the Treasury.[4] This later date precludes the wine coming from his “late” cellar.  These bottles were bid on by “a number of elderly gentlemen with radiant faces.”  Douglas H. Thomas was one of these gentlemen.  He was Baltimore’s greatest wine Madeira collector and successfully purchased these rare bottles.

Douglas H. Thomas associated the presentation of these Madeira bottles with Thomas Jefferson being the founder of the Democratic Party.  On November 16, 1896, multiple articles were published which describe a dinner held for Mr. Harry A. Parr, president of the Honest-Money Democratic League of Maryland.  At this dinner Douglas H. Thomas served the 1800 Thomas Jefferson Madeira.  It was reported that “a toast to Jeffersonian democracy” was made with the Madeira.   In the article Dollar a Drop it was reported that these bottles “reposed in the famous wine cellars of Thomas Jefferson, at Monticello, until 1834” when it was purchased by Philip Evan Thomas.[5]  At the death of Mrs. Wethered in 1886 there were “about six gallons” left being the remainder of the original purchase.  Douglas H. Thomas purchased this wine “from the cellar of her country place at Cantonsville.”  At least two other Dollar A Drop articles indicate a purchase date of 1834 but as these ran on December 1, 1896,[6] and December 17, 1896,[7] they appear to be sourced from an original article.  The November, 29, 1896, Washington Post article Drank Real Jeffersonian Wine states “The wine reposed in the famous cellars of Thomas Jefferson at Monticello until 1834.”[8]

All of these articles contain very similar content to an earlier Old Madeira article published by Charles Bellows on January 10, 1896.  In this article Charles Bellows, a wine merchant and Madeira expert, recalled a conversation about the Madeira between four gentlemen.  A part of the conversation concerned the “Jeffersonian Madeira, vintage 1800” which had been served at a Baltimore dinner.  One of the gentlemen received a letter from the dinner host who said the Madeira had “remained in the cellars of Thomas Jefferson, at Monticello, until 1834, when it was purchased by Philip Evan Thomas.”[9]

Excerpt from "Old Madeira" by Charles Bellows. [9]

Excerpt from “Old Madeira” by Charles Bellows. [9]

There was no sale of Thomas Jefferson’s effects in 1843 nor in 1834.  We also know that there was no Madeira left at Monticello upon the death of Thomas Jefferson.  Curious enough, the Art Collection of the late John Wethered article quotes an unspecified source, which does not state the Madeira came from Thomas Jefferson; it only states that some whisky did.  This raises the questions of who attributed the Madeira to Thomas Jefferson, where did the bottles come from, and when were they purchased.

Further information about these bottles of Madeira might be found in the Wethered auction catalog.  Unfortunately no one is aware of a surviving copy.  Benjamin Wallace wrote of the 1890 catalog but as his materials are in storage, he does not recall whether he saw a catalog or not nor does he know if he has a copy of the catalog or not.[10]  In The Billionaire’s Vinegar he wrote of the “contemporaneous documents” including “an 1890 auction catalog mentioning the bottles as part of a sale of the estate of the daughter of Philip Evan Thomas”.  I may be reading too much into this statement but it does sound very much like the description in the Art Collection of the late John Wethered article.   Jamie Ritchie, CEO and President, Americas and Asia, Sotheby’s Wine wrote that there are no records related to the provenance of the three bottles they auctioned.[11]  Serena Sutcliffe, Board Director, Worldwide Head of Wine, Sotheby’s Wine replied that she had not seen a catalog.[12]

The first described 1843 date might be a transcription mistake of the 1834. This would not be surprising as Philip Evan Thomas was also mistaken with Philip Frank Thomas.  The 1834 date is corroborated by the fact that Monticello was sold in 1834.  Monticello was described as being for sale by Dr. Charles Barclay on October 19, 1833.[13]  On April 10, 1834, it was noted that “There were but few persons present” for the sale and it was afterwards sold privately to Lieutenant Uriah Phillips Levy.[14]  Dr. Charles Barclay lived at Monticello and could have stored Madeira in the Monticello cellar.  The articles could then be referring to the physical “cellar” at Monticello instead of the personal wine stock of Thomas Jefferson.  Unfortunately there are no descriptions of wine in Dr. Charles Barclay’s correspondence and there are no known ledgers.[15] Nor is any wine mentioned in the depositions for the two lawsuits between Uriah Phillips Levy and Dr. Charles  Barclay regarding the property that conveyed in the sale of Monticello.[16] If the sale occurred in 1843 then the Madeira could have been that of Uriah Phillips Levy. These remain open-ended possibilities.

The wine cellar at Monticello.

The wine cellar at Monticello.

Another article also stated that these bottles “at one time reposed in the wine cellar of Thomas Jefferson.” [17] Upon the death of Philip Evan Thomas the wine came into possession of his daughter Mrs. John Wethered.  It was reported that “about twenty bottles” were purchased by Douglas H. Thomas.  At the time of the dinner Douglas H. Thomas still possessed a few more Jefferson bottles which “cost originally $3 a gallon.”  The articles do not specify how many bottles of Jefferson Madeira were opened so it is impossible to track their decline in numbers.  Douglas H. Thomas had also purchased “some fine old whisky” which was to be sent to Senator Allen G. Thurman for the “Old Roman” banquet.  A label for “Jefferson Whisky” was included in the auction of the Thomas Family Wine Collecting Archive.[18]  This label bears the same format and details of the 1800 Jefferson Madeira.  It appears that Douglas H. Thomas purchased all of the bottles described in the Art Collection of the late John Wethered.

Douglas H. Thomas stated the Jefferson bottles originally cost $3 per gallon.  Though the size of a pipe varied to some degreed it is possible to determine the approximate cost per gallon.  Thomas Jefferson received a 126-gallon pipe of “Pedro Ximenes” in 1801[19] and in 1811 wrote for a pipe of St George wine being “about 120 gallons.”[20] Between 1801 and 1803 Thomas Jefferson purchased seven pipes of wine at $350 per pipe and an eighth pipe in 1803 at $354.  At 120 gallons per pipe these purchases averaged $2.92 per gallon or rounded-up $3.00 per gallon.  Exactly how Douglas H. Thomas knew the original cost of the Madeira is unknown.  The Ashlyns auction catalog may have stated the price, the bottles or demijohn themselves may have born a tag or label, or he read the March 1885 issue of “Thomas Jefferson’s Financial Diary” in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine.[21]  In this article, significant attention is paid to Thomas Jefferson’s wine orders during his Presidency as well as providing a table detailing his Madeira consumption.

On December 22, 1896, Douglas H. Thomas wrote a letter to President Grover Cleveland informing him that, “I have the honor of sending you by express today a bottle of Madeira of the vintage 1800 – which at one time belonged to President Thomas Jefferson, hoping that it may be a welcome addition to your Christmas table…”.[22]  He stated that President Cleveland had “perpetuated Jeffersonian Democracy.”  President Cleveland wrote back on December 17, 1896, “Please accept my sincere thanks for the bottle of Jeffersonian madeira which you kindly sent me as a Christmas gift…would willingly [?] it to a celebration of the return of the party which Jefferson founded, to the principles which he commenced”.

Eight years later Douglas H. Thomas again served the 1800 Jefferson Madeira this time at a dinner in honor of Henry G. Davis at the Hotel Belvedere.  The provenance was described as “once owned by Thomas Jefferson” by the Baltimore Sun.[23]  It was noted that Thomas Jefferson was a founder of the Democratic Party and the Madeira was used to toast the success of Senator Henry G. Davis’ Democratic ticket.  There is no indication of the number of bottles opened. The wine itself was described as:

Jefferson Madeira.
Vintage 1800.
Purchased at the Sale of the Effects of
President Jefferson.
1843.
By Philip Evan Thomas,
First President, Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.

Purchased at Sale of Effects of
Mrs. Wethered,
Daughter of Philip Evan Thomas.
April 24, 1890.
By Douglas H Thomas.

The Baltimore American also ran an article the same date describing the Jefferson wine with slight differences as[24]:

Jefferson Madeira.
Vintage 1800.
Purchased at the sale of the effects of
President Jefferson,
1843,
By Philip Evan Thomas,
First President Balto. & Ohio R.R.

Purchased at sale of effects of
Mrs. Wethered, daughter of
Philip Evan Thomas, April 24, 1890,
By Douglas H. Thomas.

It is unclear if these descriptions are based on observing the bottle labels or were provided by Douglas H. Thomas.  The article format is very similar to that of the Sotheby’s labels but the order is slightly different and it omits the “Douglas H Thomas – Filtered 1890” text.

There were no sales of Thomas Jefferson’s effect in 1843.  It is possible but unlikely that Philip Evan Thomas had purchased “Monticello Madeira” instead.  There were three advertisements between February 21, 1843,[25] and December 1, 1843,[26] for vintage 1822 “Monticello Madeira.”  These lots were from the private stock of an importer and were auctioned off in Charleston.  I suspect this wine was imported in the brig Monticello.  On August 4, 1830, an advertisement in Baltimore was placed for a “few quarter and half quarter Casks of very superior Sercial, Bual, and Burgundy Madeira” from Newton, Gordon, Murdock, & Scott.[27]

Philip Evan Thomas was the first president of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.  It was his daughter Mrs. Wethered who famously received the telegraphed message from Dolley Madison when Dr. Morse tested the line in 1844.  Dolley Madison had been in the process of selling off Montpelier the previous few years.  In 1844 Philip Evan Thomas wrote to Dolley Madison about the upcoming visit of Mrs. Wethered to Washington, DC.  It is possible then that Philip Evan Thomas purchased or received wine from Dolley Madison.  On August 13, 1810, James Leander Cathcart sent James Madison an invoice that included two pipes of vintage 1800 Madeira from Don Carvalhal.[28]  Unfortunately the 1842 inventory of Dolley Madison’s possessions in Washington, DC, only include 8 bottles of wine.[29]  This amount of wine is too small to reflect the amount that Philip Evan Thomas purchased.

In May 1997, Sotheby’s auctions off two partially filled and one empty bottles of Madeira once “belonging to President Thomas Jefferson”.  These bottles perhaps represent the remainder of Douglas H. Thomas’ Jeffersonian Madeira.   We know that there is no documentary evidence to support that Thomas Jefferson was the owner.  Thus the Sotheby’s attribution of the Madeira to Thomas Jefferson is correct based solely on the bottle labels and turn of the century articles.  With a lack of further documentation, claims that Thomas Jefferson was indeed the owner falls to Douglas H. Thomas.  In trusting the sincerity of Baltimore’s greatest Madeira collector we simply cannot determine who originated the Thomas Jefferson attribution nor pick a purchase date of 1834 or 1843.  The early history of these bottles will remain a mystery until the 1890 Wethered auction catalog or other correspondence surfaces.


[1] Wethered, John, (1809-1888). Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. URL: http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=W000311
[2] Date: Tuesday, April 15, 1890          Paper: Sun (Baltimore, MD)   Volume: CVI   Issue: 128   Page: Supplement 1
[3] Date: Friday, April 25, 1890            Paper: Sun (Baltimore, MD)   Volume: CVI   Issue: 137   Page: 4
[4] Date: Saturday, October 4, 1890     Paper: Sun (Baltimore, MD)   Volume: CVII   Issue: 121   Page: 4
[5] Date: Monday, November 30, 1896               Paper: Boston Journal (Boston, MA)   Volume: LXIII   Issue: 20808   Page: 3
[6] Date: Tuesday, December 1, 1896                  Paper: Kentucky Post (Covington, KY)   Page: 7
[7] Date: Thursday, December 17, 1896              Paper: Morning Star (Rockford, IL)   Page: 4
[8] “Drank Real Jeffersonian Wine” The Washington Post, November 29, 1896. Page 1.
[9] Bellows, Charles. Articles on Madeira written by Charles Bellows for Bonfort’s Circular. 1901.  As well as transcription from Mannie Berk.
[10] Per email correspondence with Benjamin Wallace February 20, 2014.
[11] Per email correspondence with Jamie Ritchie February 22, 2014.
[12] Per email correspondence with Serena Sutcliffe August 2, 2014.
[13] Date: Saturday, October 19, 1833                 Paper: Saturday Morning Transcript (Boston, MA)   Volume: III   Issue: 7   Page: 26
[14] Date: Thursday, April 10, 1834       Paper: Alexandria Gazette (Alexandria, VA)   Page: 2
[15] Per private correspondence with Connie Geary, Digital Archivist, Scottsville Museum.
[16] Per private correspondence with Marc Leepson. Historian, author, and journalist.
[17] Date: Monday, November 30, 1896              Paper: Sun (Baltimore, MD)   Volume: CXX   Issue: 12   Page: 6
[18] Important Thomas Family Wine Collecting Archive. September 17, 2011. Crocker Farm. URL: http://www.crockerfarm.com/maryland-auction/2011-09-17/lot-361/Important-Thomas-Family-Wine-Collecting-Archive/
[19] “From Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Yznardi, Sr., 24 March 1801,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/01-33-02-0381, ver. 2014-02-12). Source: The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 33, 17 February–30 April 1801, ed. Barbara B. Oberg. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006, p. 441.
[20] “Thomas Jefferson to Peter Walsh, 27 March 1811,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/03-03-02-0376, ver. 2014-02-12). Source: The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Retirement Series, vol. 3, 12 August 1810 to 17 June 1811, ed. J. Jefferson Looney. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006, p. 505.
[21] http://books.google.com/books?id=nVIFAAAAQAAJ&pg=PP53#v=onepage&q&f=false
[22] Correspondence b/t Douglas H. Thomas and President Grover Cleveland re: Gift of Thomas Jefferson Madeira. URL: http://www.crockerfarm.com/maryland-auction/2011-09-17/lot-360/Correspondence-b-t-Douglas-H-Thomas-and-President-Grover-Cleveland-re-Gift-of-Thomas-Jefferson-Madeira/
[23] Date: Tuesday, October 11, 1904                  Paper: Sun (Baltimore, MD)   Volume: CXXXV   Issue: 148   Page: 12
[24] Date: Tuesday, October 11, 1904                  Paper: Baltimore American (Baltimore, MD)   Page: 14, 15
[25] Date: Tuesday, February 21, 1843                 Paper: Charleston Courier (Charleston, SC)   Volume: XLI   Issue: 12315   Page: 3
[26] Date: Friday, December 1, 1843   Paper: Charleston Courier (Charleston, SC)   Volume: XLI   Issue: 12549   Page: 3
[27] Date: Wednesday, August 4, 1830                Paper: Baltimore Gazette and Daily Advertiser (Baltimore, MD)   Volume: 74   Issue: 12271   Page: 3
[28] My own transcription.  http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/03-02-02-0594
[29] “Inventory of Mrs. D. P. Madison’s furniture in House in Washington,” November 15, 1842, box 1, folder 1840–1842, Papers of Dolley Madison, MS 18940, Library of Congress, Washington, DC. MRD-S 142

“choice Old Jefferson Madeira”: Thomas Jefferson Madeira from the cellar of Josiah Lee

February 6, 2015 1 comment

This is the third of four posts about historic auctions of Madeira attributed to Thomas Jefferson.  In this post I focus in on a single demijohn of Madeira that appeared in Josiah Lee’s cellar. When I first discussed this auction with Mannie Berk, The Rare Wine Co., not only did he have a copy of the auction catalog but he, incredibly, knew that the Thomas Jefferson demijohn was purchased by Colonel John Eager Howard.

Advertisement for the "Old Wines" of Josiah Lee. November 08,  1852.

Advertisement for the “Old Wines” of Josiah Lee. November 08, 1852.

An additional lot of Thomas Jefferson Madeira was to be sold at the November 11, 1852, auction of Josiah Lee’s cellar.[1]  Josiah Lee was a famous Madeira collector in Baltimore. It was said that this auction replenished many Washington cellars.[10]  The auction was conducted by Gibson & Co of Baltimore who advertised the lots as, “comprising probably the largest private collection of rare and costly old wines.”  Amongst the lots were “also 150 demijohns of Old Charleston, Jefferson, Patterson, Harper, Butler, Merryman, Oliver, H. Thompson, Macdonald, Constitution, Araugo, Newton Gordon, Murdock, and other fines Madeiras in bottles and demijohns.”  Not all of the Madeira was sold, including the Jefferson lot, as it was included in the list advertised on November 12, 1852, for auction two days later.[2]  In the auction catalog, lot #96 lists “1 demijohn, 3 gallons, choice Old Jefferson Madeira.”[3]  This lot appears under the “Madeiras” section and is separate from the “Celebrated Old ‘Cox’ Wines” of James Cox.  The title of the auction states that the wines were “15 to 40 years old.”  That would date the Jefferson Madeira from 1812 to 1837.

Despite the appearance of several articles about both days of the auction, the details of particular lots are slim.  Of the first day it was noted that Madeira prices ranged from $1 to $9 per gallon with four demijohns at $16 per gallon and five of a particular quality at $49 per gallon.[4]  The most expensive lot were “old ‘box,’ Madeira” comprise of 22 bottles sold at $15.50 per bottle or $77.50 per gallon.[5]  The second part of the auction was attended by “a large number of persons present, and the bidding continued very animated, until the entire stock was disposed of.”[6]  The auction realized some $14,000 in sales.

Mannie Berk pointed out that Colonel John Eager Howard (1821-1862) of Baltimore purchased the entire demijohn of “Jefferson Madeira” for $16.50.[7] What happened to the demijohn is not known.  The Madeira remained in the family for in the 1880s inventory of A. W. Howard’s wine it appears[8].  We do know that Thomas Jefferson did use both bottles and demijohns for his wine.  In August 1807 he was sent 30 demijohns and corks from Richmond to Monticello.[9]  It is thus possible that Thomas Jefferson stored Madeira in demijohn.  Without further details it is impossible to place this demijohn in context of Thomas Jefferson’s Madeira.


[1] Date: Tuesday, November 2, 1852                  Paper: American and Commercial Daily Advertiser (Baltimore, MD)   Page: 3
[2] Date: Friday, November 12, 1852                   Paper: American and Commercial Daily Advertiser (Baltimore, MD) Page: 3
[3] Catalogue of the Large and Valuable Private Stock of Very Choice Old Wines, Brandies, Whiskey, and other Liquors Belonging to the Estate of the Estate Josiah Lee.  From the collection of Mannie Berk.
[4] Date: Friday, November 12, 1852                   Paper: Sun (Baltimore, MD)   Volume: XXXI   Issue: 153   Page: 1
[5] Date: Friday, November 12, 1852                   Paper: American and Commercial Daily Advertiser (Baltimore, MD)   Page: 2
[6] Date: Monday, November 15, 1852               Paper: Alexandria Gazette (Alexandria, VA)   Page: 3
[7] There are two entries of “Jefferson Madeira” in the Howard papers. In the Howard Papers MS. 469 appears the entry “Jefferson Madeira bought in 1852. at 16.56[0?] a gallon”.  The Howard-Gilmor Papers MS. 2619 contains “Jefferson Madeira bought in 1852 at 16-15 a gallon”.  I think it refers to the same lot and not two different lots despite the price differences. The one page MS. 2619 appears to be a subset derived from MS. 469.  They both have the 80# bottled in 1831, demijohned 1843.  Prior to the MS. 469 Jefferson entry and subsequent to the MS. 2619 Jefferson entry appears “Grape Juice Madeira” of Johnson, 1841, “like old Charleston”.  The price difference could just be a transcription mistake.  Mannie Berk also notes that Douglas H. Thomas wrote the price “$16 ½” on his copy of the Lee auction catalog.
[8] Howard Papers, 1662-1919, MS. 469. The Maryland Historical Society.
[9] “To Thomas Jefferson from David Higginbotham, 27 August 1807,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/99-01-02-6263, ver. 2014-02-12). Source: this is an Early Access document from The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. It is not an authoritative final version. And “From Thomas Jefferson to John Barnes, 28 July 1808,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/99-01-02-8404, ver. 2014-02-12). Source: this is an Early Access document from The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. It is not an authoritative final version.
[10] Poore, Benjamin Perley. Perley’s Reminiscences of Sixty Years in the National Metropolis, Volume 1. 1886. URL: https://books.google.com/books?id=PWclAAAAMAAJ&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false

“The Jefferson Wine of 1807” : Thomas Jefferson Madeira from the cellar of John Gadsby

February 5, 2015 2 comments

This is the second of four posts about historic auctions of Madeira attributed to Thomas Jefferson.  In this post I focus on the lots of Thomas Jefferson Madeira that came from the cellar of John Gadsby.

Decatur House, 17 & H, [Washington, D.C.] c. 1918-1920. Library of Congress.

Decatur House, 17 & H, [Washington, D.C.] c. 1918-1920. Library of Congress.

John Gadsby was an Englishman who ran Gadsby’s Tavern in Alexandria, Virginia between 1796 and 1808. John Gadsby subsequently left Alexandria for Baltimore, Maryland, where he ran the Indian Queen Hotel.  Upon returning to Washington, DC in 1819 he subsequently ran the National Hotel, also known as Gadsby’s Hotel, from 1827 until his retirement in 1836.  He then purchased Decatur House on Lafayette Square where he lived until his death in 1844.

A selection of Madeira from the 1839 auction of John Gadsby's cellar. [2]

A selection of Madeira from the 1839 auction of John Gadsby’s cellar. [2]

On June 25, 1839, the extensive cellar of John Gadsby was put up for auction by D.C. & W. Pell at the City Hotel in New York City.[1]  The lots comprised some “10,000 bottles of choice wine, selected by Mr. John Gadsby, with great care, in the course of the last forty years.”  Two of the lots are of particular interest being first advertised on June 7, 1839, in New York[2]:

“MADEIRA – imported in 1807, to order, for Mr. Jefferson – Madeira from the well known house of Newton, Gordon, Murdock, & Co. imported by Messrs. McDonald & Ridgley, in 1803.”

The advertisements were to be run in Washington, DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Albany, New York City, and Boston.  Though only one lot is specifically attributed to Mr. Jefferson it is important to note the second lot for later discussion.  In the June 10, 1839, advertisement that ran in Washington, DC, the description of these lots is different[3]:

“Madeira imported to order, in 1807, for Mr. Jefferson.
Ditto from the well-known house of Newton, Gordon, Murdoch & Co. imported by Messrs. McDonald and Ridgely in 1803.”

The advertisements continue to appear in the days preceding the auction.  On June 20, 1839, there was a slight variation noting that the wines were selected by John Gadsby “of the last 30 years” instead of 40 years.[4]  The importation date of 1807 for the Jefferson Madeira was changed to 1809, “…Madeira, imported to order in 1809 by Mr. Jefferson; do from the well known house of Newton, Gordon, Murdock & Co. imported by Messrs. McDonald & Ridgely in 1803.”  The importation dates of 1809 and 1803 for the two lots are consistent in two advertisements simultaneously published in Washington, DC,[5] and New York City[6] on June 24, 1839.  A very small advertisement was also published in New York City stating “Some of it has been pressed from the grape for a period equal to the limit assigned to a man’s life – three score years and ten.-“[7]

Change in importation date from 1807 to 1809 for Thomas Jefferson's Madeira. [4]

Change in importation date from 1807 to 1809 for Thomas Jefferson’s Madeira. [4]

The newspaper advertisements for John Gadsby’s wines fall silent until after his death in 1844 when George White of Alexandria, Virginia, auctioned off “upwards of 4000 bottles of WINE, embracing a large variety of the choicest kinds, and aged from 25 to 50 years.”[8]  The auction took place on August 18, 1844.  The short list of wines is more detailed and includes two lots of Madeira specifically attributed to Thomas Jefferson:

Mark on Cork, O. M. Y. W. – Superior old Madeira, from Newton, Gordon, Murdock & Co., imported expressly for President Jefferson, in 1807, and bottled in 1811; bought by J. Gadsby in 1819.”

Mark on Cork, M Y. W. – Same as lot marked O. M. Y. W. but bottled in pint bottles.  The Jefferson Wine of 1807.”

On December 14, 1844, R. W. Dyer & Co. submitted an advertisement for an auction of the John Gadsby’s wine at the end of December 1844.  It included some 250 dozen bottles of wine to be auctioned off at Todd’s Rooms, Concert Hall on Pennsylvania Avenue.[9]  The more extensive list still included the two lots of Thomas Jefferson’s Madeira.  The auction was perhaps not much of a success because an advertisement for 250 dozen bottles including the Jefferson Madeira was resubmitted on December 30, 1844, for an auction on January 7, 1845.[10]

A selection of the wines advertised in 1844 from John Gadsby's cellar.  [8]

A selection of the wines advertised in 1844 from John Gadsby’s cellar. [8]

The remaining bottles of Jefferson Madeira must have sold at the January 7, 1845, auction for in the May 16, 1845, auction of John Gadsby’s wines by N. A. Thompson & Co. of Boston there is no mention of any Jefferson Madeira.[11]  This is confirmed by the August 14, 1845, advertisement by N. A. Thompson & Co. of which the 125 dozen bottles “being the balance of the stock of the late John Gadsby”[12] and the September 29, 1845, advertisement of 60 dozen remaining unsold bottles.[13]  George White still had some of the John Gadsby’s wine for on June 17, 1845, he advertised for “private sale a few dozen pint and quart bottles”.[14]  The following month on July 5, 1845, George White auctioned off “without reserve, to close sales, 15 dozen bottles, principally remnants…by the late John Gadsby”.[15]  Several years later 21 dozen bottles from John Gadsby’s cellar were auctioned on April 3, 1848, by A. Green at Brown’s Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue.[16]  The Jefferson bottles are not included in the list.

It is unclear, based on the advertisements alone, how many different lots of Thomas Jefferson’s Madeira were sold at each of the four auctions in 1839, 1844, and 1845. The 1839 advertisements clearly list two different lots of Madeira one imported in 1807 or 1809 for Mr. Jefferson and a second of Newton, Gordon, Murdock, & Co. imported in 1803 by McDonald & Ridgley.  These advertisements were run while John Gadsby was still alive so it is reasonable to expect they are accurate.  As such they only describe one lot imported for Mr. Jefferson and if we assume the later date is correct, it was imported in 1809.   The 1844 and subsequent advertisements could have mixed the two 1839 lots such that there was a single lot of Newton, Gordon, Murdock & Co. imported for Thomas Jefferson.  If there was confusion about the lots this is counteracted by the change in importation date and increase in details for the description adds that the Madeira was bottled in 1811 and purchased by John Gadsby in 1819.  So it is possible that the 1839 lot is different than the 1844 and 1845 lots.  If that is the case then three different lots representing two types of Jefferson Madeira were auctioned off in New York City and Washington, DC.

Further details about the Gadsby lots remain thin.  Though auction catalogs were issued I have not yet been able to locate copies.  Dr. William Bushong of the White House Historical Association reports there are no catalogs in the Decatur House collection though they are aware of the auctions.[17]  Liz Williams of the Gadsby’s Tavern Museum was aware of the Jefferson bottles but also reports there are no catalogs in their collections.[18] In fact, she relates that there are but a few pieces of primary documentation related to John Gadsby.

Without the help of any diaries or ledgers belonging to John Gadsby, further information about the Jefferson Madeira could lie elsewhere.   Mannie Berk of The Rare Wine Co. suggested that orders could lie in the Newton, Gordon, Murdoch letter books in David Cossart’s possession.  Ann Berkes of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation could not find any records of Thomas Jefferson purchasing Madeira for the 1807 to 1809 timeframe.[19]  In fact the last payment she could find during his presidency occurred in June 1804, for a pipe of Madeira received on March 19, 1804.  The companies Newton, Gordon, Murdock, & Co. and McDonald & Ridgley do not appear in Jefferson’s Memorandum Books.[20]

During his presidency and afterwards Thomas Jefferson purchased a mixture of “genuine Madeira” and Sicily Madeira.[21]  He purchased his Madeira from the merchants Thomas Newton, Jr. and his son-in-law Thomas Newton of Norfolk.   Just days after Thomas Jefferson took office Thomas Newton wrote from Norfolk on March 12, 1801, that he had “old Madeira wines; Basil Quality & London Particular”.[22]  Thomas Jefferson responded with an order for one pipe of the Brazil quality.[23]  Later that year he acknowledged four more pipes of Brazil quality Madeira from James Taylor, Jr. of Norfolk.[24]  The taste for Brazil Madeira continued with two pipes received in March 3, 1803, and one pipe in March of 1804.[25]  Thus after purchasing eight pipes of Madeira in three years he appears to purchase no more Madeira.   On May 26, 1805, Thomas Newton wrote to Thomas Jefferson that “no wine having yet arrived I hardly believe any will, but should any arive, you can have what you please of it”.[26]  Thomas Newton continued that he could procure “as good wine & same kind” from London instead of the house in Madeira.

Thomas Jefferson's Madeira consumption from  Harper's New Monthly Magazine. 1885.

Thomas Jefferson’s Madeira consumption from Harper’s New Monthly Magazine. 1885.

In Thomas Newton’s March 12, 1801, letter he describes the Madeira as coming “from a Portugeze house; who ships my wine for drinking ” and that the “Brasil kind is superior to any other sent here & such as is seldom imported.”[27]  On April 8, 1801, he elaborates that “the Brasil wine is highly esteemd here, it is superior to the London particular, & shall send one of it. the latter is fine 3 years old & shiped (wracked off), by a Portugeze house in Madeira. you will find it clear, let the cask be ever so much shaked.”[28] In a letter dated May 13, 1801, Thomas Newton elaborates on the qualities of London Particular and Brazil.  The former was “also of good quality, & very proper for using at dinner & is cheaper, the Basil is a fit cordial after dinner, this is the custom here, as we consider, that wine of inferior quality while eating, is as good to the taste as best.”[29] It appears that the eight pipes of Brazil quality Madeira came from a single house in Madeira procured expressly by Thomas Newton, Jr. and Thomas Newton.

Thomas Newton introduced Thomas Jefferson to the Port and Bucellas wines of John F. Oliveira Fernandes of Norfolk.[30]  In a letter dated September 26, 1804, Thomas Newton described his friend Dr. Fernandes to James Madison.  He noted that Dr. Fernandes was of the “house Oliviera of Madeira” and was “pretty celebrated for shipping the best of Wines.”  Dr. Fernandes wrote to Thomas Jefferson on January 24, 1805, that he could provide wine from stocks in Norfolk or ship it from “Madeira, Lisbon or any port of Spain with wines of Supirior qualities to any imported into America-“.[31]  In an advertisement from September 4, 1804, Oliveira, Fernandes & Co. listed 3, 4, and 6 years old Brazil Wine, 3 year old London Particular, Last Vintage, London Market, East India Market, New York Market, and Malmsey.[32]  Despite the selection of Oliveira Madeira, Thomas Jefferson appears to have only ordered London Particular Port, 10 year old Bucellas[33], and Lisbon Malmsey.[34]

On June 29, 1808, Thomas Jefferson wrote of the “constant occasion for some of the strong, and dry, but sound and cheap wines, as well for the use of the kitchen at Monticello as to save the dear wines in calls from our neighbors for their families”.[35]  This type of cheap wine included “Sicily Madeira, dry Sherry, dry Lisbon, Teneriff, Vidona, &Fayal”.  One early order appears on April 11, 1806, when General Stevens shipped two quarter casks of “Sicilian Madeira” one of which was for Thomas Jefferson. [36] There appear no orders of Sicily Madeira until February 10, 1823, when Thomas Jefferson ordered a quarter-cask from Bernard Peyton.[37]   A few more orders follow such as when Bernard Peyton wrote from Richmond on April 19, 1824, that he had procured a quarter cask of “best Sicily Madeira Wine” which he sent by  wagon to Charlottesville.[38]  This was followed by a full cask later that November.[39]

It is unlikely that Thomas Jefferson sold any wine to John Gadsby.  The first seven pipes of Madeira were finished by November 25, 1807.[40]  The remaining 76 gallons from the fifth pipe were sent to Monticello.  This parcel of Madeira appears to have been finished by June 23, 1808, when Martha Jefferson Randolph wrote that “the madeira gave out before you left us there was no white wine therefore but what was in the octagon cellars.”[41]  The day the seventh pipe of Madeira was finished the eighth pipe was broached and to be bottled.[42]   It is possible that the remaining bottles from the eighth pipe lay at the President’s House upon Thomas Jefferson leaving office.  On April 19, 1809, Thomas Jefferson wrote to James Madison from Monticello.  In the letter he records selling a variety of items to James Madison including 100 bottles of Madeira, and 36 bottles of the liquor Noyau.[43]

List showing 100 bottles of Madeira sold to James Madison from Thomas Jefferson, 19 April 1809. [43]

List showing 100 bottles of Madeira sold to James Madison from Thomas Jefferson, 19 April 1809. [43]

It is interesting to note that John Gadsby had marked the corks of his Madeira and Sherry.  It is unclear if the marks were made by pen or branding.  I can find no other description of marked corks in other period American advertisements.  While the early marking of corks in America may be rare it could have been more common in Europe.  In researching for my Murder & Thieves series I came across early descriptions of marking corks and bottles in my sample set.  In 1762, Mr. Barnard was questioned about his wine specifically, “Was there any particular mark upon the corks or the bottles?”[44]  In 1780, John Ramsden commented at dinner that he had grabbed the wrong bottle from his cellar for, “the cork was wrote on, red wine”.[45]  John Gadsby and his family moved to America in the 1790s so perhaps he brought with him a habit acquired in England.  We do know that in James Madison’s account with Joel Barlow dated June 12, 1811, of the five different types of wine his 73 bottles of Clos de Vougeot were “marked on the cork”.[46]

The marks immediately caught the attention of Mannie Berk.  He believes the O. M.Y.B. refers to the Madeira shipper Murdoch, Yuille, Wardrop & Co. and that the “O” stands for “Old.”  The other lots have similar marking schemes such as “O. M. B.” for “Old Howard, March & Co.’s” and “O. S. Y.” for “old Schaffer & Young’s”.  Some lots were bottled prior to purchase by John Gadsby and others were explicitly bottled by John Gadsby.  With all of the advertised lots bearing marked corks it thus appears that these lots were re-corked at some point by John Gadsby perhaps after the first auction of 1839.

The 1844 and 1845 descriptions of these lots as coming from Newton, Gordon, Murdock & Co is somewhat confusing given the cork marks stood for Murdoch, Yuille, Wardrop, & Co.  In 1826 the company Murdoch, Yuille, Wardrop & Co discovered that Mr. Andrew Wardrop had taken out a personal bond against the company.[47]  As a result of this transgression Mr. Andrew Wardrop was released from the company which subsequently changed its name to Murdoch, Yuille, & Co in 1827.[48]  It is logical that if the bottle was corked prior to the name change a later description would bear a different name.  However, the advertised name of Newton, Gordon, Murdoch, & Co. is somewhat incorrect.  This name was used starting in 1834 having previous been Newton, Gordon, Murdoch, & Scott.[49]

James Madison was a fan of Madeira for not only did he purchase it from several merchants then store it in his attic [50] but his friends and family considered it his favorite wine.[51]  Like Thomas Jefferson, James Madison also purchased Madeira from Thomas Newton.  His order from August 5, 1803, was for a particular parcel of 5 year old Madeira which James Madison preferred to the Brazil Madeira.[52]   James Madison not only ordered from similar sources as Thomas Jefferson he also corresponded about Thomas Jefferson’s wine.   For example, in a letter from William Lee dated October 15, 1803, William Lee wrote that he had forwarded “some wine as also a quantity for the President both of which parcels I hope have arrived safe….I wish Sir you would have the goodness to mention to the President how mortified I am that his order has not been strictly complied with.”[53]  Another example occurs on December 14, 1804, when Chandler Price noted that the casks of wine which were shipped were marked “PX is for the President” and “M for Yourself.”[54]  It is reasonable then to explore the correspondence of James Madison to look for a connection to the Gadsby bottles.

Bill of lading for James Madison's 1807 shipment from Murdoch, Yuille, Wardrop, & co. [55].

Bill of lading for James Madison’s 1807 shipment from Murdoch, Yuille, Wardrop, & co. [55].

Although Thomas Jefferson appears to have never ordered Madeira from Murdoch, Yuille, Wardrop & Co. James Madison did.  In fact James Madison received two pipes in 1807 which matches the Gadsby advertisement.  James Madison received a letter from Murdoch, Yuille, Wardrop, & Co. dated January 10, 1807, which mentions “Agreeably to the directions of The Honble: Bushrod Washington” they had employed the the Schooner Three Sisters, Capt: Rich” to ship “Two Pipe’s of our finest old wine.”[55]  Bushrod Washington was apparently a fan of Murdoch, Yuille, Wardrop & Co for William Hodgson of Alexandria advertised on August 27, 1807, Madeira of “the same quality as they have for some years past sent to Judge Washington and others.”[56]  It is unlikely that Bushrod Washington imported for or gave Thomas Jefferson this Madeira for their only correspondence from 1807 regard medals of General Washington.[57]

The next month on March 13, 1807, John Price wrote James Madison that he certified the importation by “J Madison in the Three Sisters of Baltimore from Madeira one Pipe of Wine”.[58] This was detailed as “Madeira, Gall. 101”.  Perhaps the certification for the second pipe was lost. James Park then wrote to James Madison on the following day that the Three Sisters “has two pipes of Wine for you, addressed by Murdoch Yuille Wardrop & Co. to me by the direction of Judge Washington.”[59]  Of these two pipes one was sent to Fredericksburg and the other to James Madison by way of “the Alex. Packet Capt. Wilkison.”[60]  There appears to be no documentation as to what happened to these specific pipes.  It is possible the pipe sent to Alexandria made its way to James Madison in Washington, DC, and the pipe sent to Fredericksburg went to Montpelier.

It seems unlikely that any of the Murdoch, Yuille, Wardrop & Co. Madeira purchased by James Madison was destined for Thomas Jefferson.  There are no references to Thomas Jefferson in the correspondence unlike the combined shipment which occurred the month prior.  During the month of February both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison imported wine together on the Three Friends.   On February 13, 1807, Thomas Jefferson wrote Gabriel Christie, the Collector at Baltimore, that he “expected some wines, fruits Etc…by the American Schooner the Three friends.”[61]   On February 18, 1807, Gabriel Christie wrote to James Madison from Baltimore that the Schooner Three Friends had arrived “on Board of which is the Wines &ca which the Presidents and yourself have long expecting.”[62]  On February 24, 1807, Gabriel Christie wrote Thomas Jefferson that he had shipped “the goods which arrived for you in the Three Friends.”[63]

I cannot find any documentation that James Madison gave any wine to Thomas Jefferson.  He did insist on giving a cask of Madeira to Francis Corbin on May 28, 1817.[64]  He felt that after it settled “it will be fit for the Glass, or for the bottle if you prefer, as I do, that mode of compleating its flavor.”  In an earlier letter to Isaac Hite dated December 15, 1804, James Madison wrote, “In general, wine is said to attain its perfection best by lying 5 or 6 years in Cask, and then going into bottles and kept throughout in warm situations.”[65]  James Madison’s apparent preference for bottling time match John Gadsby’s lot having been imported in 1807 then bottled in 1811.  Nothing may be concluded from this but again, the coincidence is worth noting.

We know that James Madison purchased 100 bottles of Madeira which belonged to Thomas Jefferson.  It is not yet known if all of those bottles were consumed prior to the burning of the President’s House on August 24, 1814, but any remaining bottles most likely did not survive.  Dolley Madison wrote on August 23, 1814, that “I have pressed as many cabinet papers into trunks as to fill one carriage; our private property must be sacrificed.”[66]  Margaret Bayard Smith wrote of how little was saved from the President’s House and that the “wine, of which there was a great quantity, was consumed by our own soldiers.”[67]  We do know at least one demijohn of wine survived.  Dolley Madison wrote to Minerva Denison Rodgers during Sept-Dec 1814, that “to accept a dimijohn of pure wine saved from the P——s House the morning of its destruction.”[68]  Upon returning to Washington, DC, James Leander Cathcart brought with him “four Pipes of Wine between seven & ten years old, upon a supposition that your stock was burnt by the Goths, it is of an excellent quality”.[69] It appears that no bottle from this parcel of Jefferson Madeira would have survived past the burning and been available for auction at a later date.

There appears to be no documentation to tie Thomas Jefferson to any of the three lots of Madeira appearing at the auction of John Gadsby’s wine cellar.  It is possible that the 1839 Gadsby advertisement refers to Madeira shipped by Thomas Newton from an unspecified house.  However, there is no documentary evidence that Thomas Jefferson imported any Madeira in 1807 and 1809.  It is possible then that Thomas Newton brought in some Madeira which Thomas Jefferson declined to purchase.  Thomas Newton could have bottled it then sold it was being imported for Mr. Jefferson.  There is also no documentary evidence that Thomas Jefferson imported wine from Murdoch, Yuille, Wardrop, & Co. The description of the two pipes of wine purchased by James Madison provides the closest match.  This “old” wine and the shipper name thus match the “O.M.Y.W.” mark on John Gadsby’s corks as well as the importation date of 1807 given in the 1844 and 1845 auction advertisements.   Unfortunately there are no records indicating James Madison released some of this Madeira which was misattributed to Thomas Jefferson or if he gave any to Thomas Jefferson.


[1] Date: Monday, June 10, 1839          Paper: Daily National Intelligencer (Washington (DC), DC)   Volume: XXVII   Issue: 8212   Page: 2
[2] Date: Friday, June 7, 1839                Paper: Evening Post (New York, NY)   Issue: 11377   Page: 3
[3] Date: Monday, June 10, 1839          Paper: Daily National Intelligencer (Washington (DC), DC)   Volume: XXVII   Issue: 8212   Page: 2
[4] Date: Thursday, June 20, 1839        Paper: Commercial Advertiser (New York, NY)   Page: 2
[5] Date: Monday, June 24, 1839          Paper: Daily National Intelligencer (Washington (DC), DC)   Volume: XXVII   Issue: 8224   Page: 2
[6] Date: Monday, June 24, 1839          Paper: Commercial Advertiser (New York, NY)   Page: 2
[7] Date: Monday, June 24, 1839          Paper: Evening Post (New York, NY)   Issue: 11391   Page: 2
[8] Date: Wednesday, September 11, 1844        Paper: Alexandria Gazette (Alexandria, VA)   Page: 3
[9] Date: Tuesday, December 17, 1844               Paper: Daily National Intelligencer (Washington (DC), DC)   Volume: XXXII   Issue: 9931   Page: 1
[10] Date: Tuesday, January 7, 1845      Paper: Daily National Intelligencer (Washington (DC), DC)   Volume: XXXIII   Issue: 9948   Page: 1
[11] Date: Thursday, May 15, 1845        Paper: Boston Courier (Boston, MA)   Volume: XXII   Issue: 3104   Page: 3
[12] Date: Thursday, August 14, 1845                   Paper: Boston Courier (Boston, MA)   Page: 3
[13] Date: Monday, September 29, 1845             Paper: Boston Courier (Boston, MA)   Page: 3
[14] Date: Tuesday, June 17, 1845         Paper: Alexandria Gazette (Alexandria, VA)   Page: 1
[15] Date: Friday, July 4, 1845                Paper: Alexandria Gazette (Alexandria, VA)   Page: 3
[16] Date: Sunday, April 2, 1848            Paper: Daily Union (Washington (DC), DC)   Page: 3
[17] Per email correspondence January 28, 2014.
[18] Per email correspondence January 28, 2014.
[19] Per email correspondence January 14, 2014.
[20] Per email correspondence January 16, 2014.
[21] “From Thomas Jefferson to William Short, 30 August 1806,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/99-01-02-4221, ver. 2013-12-27). Source: this is an Early Access document from The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. It is not an authoritative final version.
[22] “To Thomas Jefferson from Thomas Newton, 12 March 1801,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/01-33-02-0218, ver. 2013-12-27). Source: The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 33, 17 February–30 April 1801, ed. Barbara B. Oberg. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006, p. 258.
[23] “From Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Newton, 23 March 1801,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/01-33-02-0359, ver. 2013-12-27). Source: The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 33, 17 February–30 April 1801, ed. Barbara B. Oberg. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006, pp. 420–421.
[24] “From Thomas Jefferson to James Taylor, Jr., 18 December 1801,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/01-36-02-0087, ver. 2013-12-27). Source: The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 36, 1 December 1801–3 March 1802, ed. Barbara B. Oberg. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009, p. 163.
[25] I did not find references to these three pipes on Founders Online so refer to Gabler, James M. Passions The Wines and Travels of Thomas Jefferson.  See also Hailman, John. Thomas Jefferson on Wine.
[26] “To Thomas Jefferson from Thomas Newton, 26 May 1805,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/99-01-02-1786, ver. 2013-12-27). Source: this is an Early Access document from The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. It is not an authoritative final version.
[27] “To Thomas Jefferson from Thomas Newton, 12 March 1801,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/01-33-02-0218, ver. 2014-05-09). Source: The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 33, 17 February–30 April 1801, ed. Barbara B. Oberg. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006, p. 258.
[28] “To Thomas Jefferson from Thomas Newton, 8 April 1801,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/01-33-02-0483, ver. 2013-12-27). Source: The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 33, 17 February–30 April 1801, ed. Barbara B. Oberg. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006, pp. 554–555.
[29] “To Thomas Jefferson from Thomas Newton, 13 May 1801,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/01-34-02-0079, ver. 2013-12-27). Source: The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 34, 1 May–31 July 1801, ed. Barbara B. Oberg. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007, p. 106.
[30] “From Thomas Jefferson to John F. Oliveira Fernandes, 4 January 1805,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/99-01-02-0947, ver. 2013-12-27). Source: this is an Early Access document from The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. It is not an authoritative final version.
[31] “To Thomas Jefferson from John F. Oliveira Fernandes, 24 January 1805,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/99-01-02-1032, ver. 2013-12-27). Source: this is an Early Access document from The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. It is not an authoritative final version.
[32] Date: Tuesday, September 4, 1804               Paper: Norfolk Gazette and Publick Ledger (Norfolk, VA)   Page: 3
[33] “To Thomas Jefferson from John F. Oliveira Fernandes, 24 January 1805,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/99-01-02-1032, ver. 2013-12-27). Source: this is an Early Access document from The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. It is not an authoritative final version.
[34] “To Thomas Jefferson from John F. Oliveira Fernandes, 30 December 1806,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/99-01-02-4774, ver. 2013-12-27). Source: this is an Early Access document from The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. It is not an authoritative final version.
[35] “From Thomas Jefferson to George Jefferson, 29 June 1808,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/99-01-02-8239, ver. 2013-12-27). Source: this is an Early Access document from The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. It is not an authoritative final version.
[36] “From Thomas Jefferson to George Jefferson, 11 April 1806,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/99-01-02-3549, ver. 2013-12-27). Source: this is an Early Access document from The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. It is not an authoritative final version.
[37] “From Thomas Jefferson to Bernard Peyton, 10 February 1823,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/98-01-02-3320, ver. 2013-12-27). Source: this is an Early Access document from The Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series. It is not an authoritative final version.
[38] “To Thomas Jefferson from Bernard Peyton, 19 April 1824,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/98-01-02-4202, ver. 2013-12-27). Source: this is an Early Access document from The Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series. It is not an authoritative final version.
[39] “To Thomas Jefferson from Bernard Peyton, 15 November 1824,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/98-01-02-4688, ver. 2013-12-27). Source: this is an Early Access document from The Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series. It is not an authoritative final version.
[40] “Jefferson’s Financial Diary”, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, Volume 9. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=nVIFAAAAQAAJ&pg=PP53#v=onepage&q&f=false  Also see Curtis, William Eleroy. The True Thomas Jefferson. 1901. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=pX92AAAAMAAJ&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false
[41] “To Thomas Jefferson from Martha Jefferson Randolph, 23 June 1808,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/99-01-02-8206, ver. 2014-02-12). Source: this is an Early Access document from The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. It is not an authoritative final version.
[42] Hailman, John R. Thomas Jefferson on Wine.
[43] Per email correspondence January 16, 2014, and “Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 19 April 1809,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/03-01-02-0126-0001, ver. 2013-12-27). Source: The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Retirement Series, vol. 1, 4 March 1809 to 15 November 1809, ed. J. Jefferson Looney. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004, pp. 154–156.
[44] Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 6.0, 17 February 2013), February 1762, trial of Mary Sherman (t17620224-4).
[45]  Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 6.0, 17 February 2013), September 1780, trial of MARY BRITTLE GEORGE PARSONS (t17800913-89).
[46] “Account with Joel Barlow, 12 June 1811 (Abstract),” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/03-03-02-0395, ver. 2014-05-09). Source: The Papers of James Madison, Presidential Series, vol. 3, 3 November 1810–4 November 1811, ed. J. C. A. Stagg, Jeanne Kerr Cross, and Susan Holbrook Perdue. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1996, p. 340.  See the original document at URL: http://memory.loc.gov/master/mss/mjm/13/0300/0380d.jpg
[47] Reports from Committees.  URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=EaZbAAAAQAAJ&pg=PR1#v=onepage&q&f=false
[48] London Gazette, Issue 18357 published on the 1 May 1827. Page 8 of 24 URL: http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/18357/pages/968
[49] Cossart Gordon & Cie : Ile de Madère : maison fondée en 1745 : la plus ancienne et la plus grande maison d’exportation de vins de Madère. Cossart, Gordon & Cie. Londres : J. Causton et fils, [1874?]
[50] “From James Madison to Isaac Hite, 15 December 1804,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/02-08-02-0403, ver. 2014-02-12). Source: The Papers of James Madison, Secretary of State Series, vol. 8, 1 September 1804 – 31 January 1805 and supplement 1776 – 23 June 1804, ed. Mary A. Hackett, J. C. A. Stagg, Mary Parke Johnson, Anne Mandeville Colony, Angela Kreider, Jeanne Kerr Cross, and Wendy Ellen Perry. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2007, p. 381.
[51] Mary Estelle Elizabeth Cutts Memoir II, [1849-1856], Cutts Family Collection of Papers of James and Dolley Madison, Library of Congress, Washington, DC. MRD-S 23538
[52] “From James Madison to Thomas Newton, Jr., 5 [August] 1803,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/02-05-02-0296, ver. 2014-02-12). Source: The Papers of James Madison, Secretary of State Series, vol. 5, 16 May–31 October 1803, ed. David B. Mattern, J. C. A. Stagg, Ellen J. Barber, Anne Mandeville Colony, and Bradley J. Daigle. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2000, pp. 280–281.
[53] “To James Madison from William Lee, 25 October 1803,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/02-05-02-0582, ver. 2014-02-12). Source: The Papers of James Madison, Secretary of State Series, vol. 5, 16 May–31 October 1803, ed. David B. Mattern, J. C. A. Stagg, Ellen J. Barber, Anne Mandeville Colony, and Bradley J. Daigle. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2000, pp. 575–577.
[54] “To James Madison from Chandler Price, 14 December 1804,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/02-08-02-0399, ver. 2014-02-12). Source: The Papers of James Madison, Secretary of State Series, vol. 8, 1 September 1804 – 31 January 1805 and supplement 1776 – 23 June 1804, ed. Mary A. Hackett, J. C. A. Stagg, Mary Parke Johnson, Anne Mandeville Colony, Angela Kreider, Jeanne Kerr Cross, and Wendy Ellen Perry. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2007, p. 378.
[55] “To James Madison from Murdoch Yuille Wardrop and Company, 10 January 1807,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/99-01-02-1271, ver. 2013-12-27). Source: this is an Early Access document from The Papers of James Madison. It is not an authoritative final version.
[56] Date: Thursday, August 27, 1807                   Paper: Alexandria Advertiser (Alexandria, VA)   Volume: VII   Issue: 20 “From Thomas Jefferson to Bushrod Washington, 25 October 1807,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/99-01-02-6654, ver. 2014-02-12). Source: this is an Early Access document from The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. It is not an authoritative final version.03   Page: 1
[57] For example see “From Thomas Jefferson to Bushrod Washington, 25 October 1807,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/99-01-02-6654 [last update: 2014-12-01]). Source: this is an Early Access document from The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. It is not an authoritative final version.
[58] “To James Madison from John Price, Jr., 13 March 1807,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/99-01-02-1499, ver. 2014-02-12). Source: this is an Early Access document from The Papers of James Madison. It is not an authoritative final version.
[59] “To James Madison from Andrew Parks, 14 March 1807,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/99-01-02-1503, ver. 2014-02-12). Source: this is an Early Access document from The Papers of James Madison. It is not an authoritative final version.
[60] “To James Madison from Andrew Parks, 26 March 1807,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/99-01-02-1547, ver. 2014-02-12). Source: this is an Early Access document from The Papers of James Madison. It is not an authoritative final version.
[61] “From Thomas Jefferson to Gabriel Christie, 13 February 1807,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/99-01-02-5081, ver. 2014-02-12). Source: this is an Early Access document from The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. It is not an authoritative final version.
[62] “To James Madison from Gabriel Christie, 18 February 1807,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/99-01-02-1423, ver. 2014-02-12). Source: this is an Early Access document from The Papers of James Madison. It is not an authoritative final version.
[63] “To Thomas Jefferson from Gabriel Christie, 24 February 1807,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/99-01-02-5151, ver. 2014-02-12). Source: this is an Early Access document from The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. It is not an authoritative final version.
[64] “From James Madison to Francis Corbin, 28 May 1817,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/04-01-02-0051, ver. 2013-12-27). Source: The Papers of James Madison, Retirement Series, vol. 1, 4 March 1817 – 31 January 1820, ed. David B. Mattern, J. C. A. Stagg, Mary Parke Johnson, and Anne Mandeville Colony. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2009, pp. 52–53.
[65] “From James Madison to Isaac Hite, 15 December 1804,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/02-08-02-0403, ver. 2013-12-27). Source: The Papers of James Madison, Secretary of State Series, vol. 8, 1 September 1804 – 31 January 1805 and supplement 1776 – 23 June 1804, ed. Mary A. Hackett, J. C. A. Stagg, Mary Parke Johnson, Anne Mandeville Colony, Angela Kreider, Jeanne Kerr Cross, and Wendy Ellen Perry. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2007, p. 381.
[66] August 23, 1814. URL: http://www2.vcdh.virginia.edu/madison/exhibit/washington/letters/082314.html
[67] Smith, Margaret Bayard. The First Forty Years of Washington Society. 1906. URL: https://books.google.com/books?id=xOwMAAAAIAAJ&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false
[68] Dolley Payne Todd Madison to Minerva Denison Rodgers, [September–December 1814] . The Dolley Madison Digital Edition. UVA Rotunda website.
[69] “To James Madison from James Leander Cathcart, 7 August 1815,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/99-01-02-4563, ver. 2014-02-12). Source: this is an Early Access document from The Papers of James Madison. It is not an authoritative final version.

“[I]mported expressly for President Jefferson”: Historic Lots of Thomas Jefferson’s Madeira at Auction

February 4, 2015 1 comment

This and the related posts about historic auctions of Thomas Jefferson’s Madeira would not be possible without the help of Mannie Berk, Founder of the Rare Wine Co., Anna Berkes, Research Librarian at The Thomas Jefferson Foundation, and Meg Kennedy, Director of Museum Programs at The Montpelier Foundation. 

Thomas Jefferson from St. Memin collection of portraits. 1805. LOC.

Thomas Jefferson from St. Memin collection of portraits. 1805. LOC.

In May 1997, Sotheby’s auctioned off two partially filled and one empty bottles of Madeira once “belonging to President Thomas Jefferson”.  These bottles were previously owned by Douglas H. Thomas who bought them in 1890 at an estate sale in Maryland.  The bottles bore their provenance on paper labels which stated they were of the “Vintage 1800” and had been “Purchased at the Sale of the Effects of President Jefferson. 1843”.  Douglas H. Thomas was a prominent Madeira connoisseur who possessed a significant Madeira collection.  As such he would have been attracted to the Thomas Jefferson connection.  Provenance is of prime concern when it comes to purchasing rare and old wines.  In today’s market it can indicate proper storage and more importantly, authenticity.  Provenance is not a new concern for it was commonly tracked on bottles and demijohns of Madeira dating back to the 18th century.

Parcels of Madeira became known by the ships they were imported on or the families that purchased them.  They often bore papers labels or tags indicating their names and a succession of dates indicating when they were imported, drawn from cask in to demijohn, and eventually bottled.  They could even indicate the chain of ownership.  Period advertisements and auction catalogs are full of these names and dates.  When great Madeira cellars came up for auction the names of the collector, such as the “celebrated old” Madeira of James Cox, commanded both attention and price.

There are many examples of Madeira bottles dating back to the 1810s that have surviving paper labels.  It is not surprising, then, that the Madeira bottles of Douglas H. Thomas detailed their provenance on attached labels.  Douglas H. Thomas had purchased approximately 20 bottles worth of Jefferson Madeira.  As one of the greatest 19th century Madeira collectors, Douglas H. Thomas prized the Thomas Jefferson provenance.  He proudly served these rare bottles at public dinners and even gave one to President Grover Cleveland.  Accounts of these dinners appear in several newspaper articles and there is surviving correspondence with President Cleveland as well.  From these articles we know he served the Madeira for toasts to Jeffersonian Democracy.  Several articles even describe the bottles that were served at one of the dinners.  These descriptions almost exactly match the labels on the three bottles auctioned off by Sotheby’s in 1997.  There would seem to be little need to doubt the authenticity.  Perhaps as a result there was very little press about this auction with absolutely no mention in The New York Times.

Twelve years prior to the Sotheby’s auction a cache of more than one dozen bottles of Bordeaux wine claimed to have belonged to Thomas Jefferson was found.    This cache contained such bottles as 1784 and 1787 Chateau d’Yquem as well as 1787 from Chateau Lafite, Chateau Margaux, and Chateau Brane Mouton.  These bottles came into the possession of Hardy Rodenstock who boasted of them and subsequently sold them off.  A bottle bearing “1787 Lafitte Th. J.” was auctioned off by Christie’s on December 5, 1987.  At the time Cinder Goodwin, a researcher at Monticello, doubted the authenticity of the parcel based on the initials and lack of documentary evidence.  Reports on the auctions and tasting of these Thomas Jefferson bottles appear in The New York Times over the years.  Doubts about authenticity continued until 2005 when Bill Koch began investigating both the bottles and Hardy Rodenstock.  Thanks to these efforts we now know that these bottles were fakes.

There was, perhaps, no need to doubt the provenance of the 1800 Jefferson Madeira at the time of the Sotheby’s auction in 1997.  With labels that matched century old newspaper descriptions they were unlike Hardy Rodenstock’s cache of mysterious 18th century Bordeaux.  These Bordeaux bottles were purportedly purchased from an unnamed source who found them walled up in a cellar at an unspecified Paris address. While the Jefferson Madeira was undoubtedly old they were not above questioning.  These bottles remain somewhat controversial for there is yet no proof to Sotheby’s claim that they were owned by President Thomas Jefferson.

This undocumented connection to Thomas Jefferson is described in Benjamin Thomas’ The Billionaires Vinegar (2008) and the second edition of Noel Cossart’s Madeira The Island Vineyard (2011).  The three Madeira bottles and Rodenstock’s cache are not the first bottles of wine attributed to Thomas Jefferson to appear at auction.  Some 160 to 170 years ago lots of Thomas Jefferson’s Madeira appeared in the auctions of both John Gadsby’s and Josiah Lee’s wine cellars.  Like the Douglas H. Thomas bottles there is no documentary evidence linking these older lots to Thomas Jefferson.

John Gadsby ran Gadsby’s Tavern in Alexandria, Virginia and later the National Hotel, also known as Gadsby’s Hotel, in Washington, DC.  Over the years John Gadsby’s establishments entertained such distinguished guests as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison.  Upon retirement John Gadsby purchased Decatur House, located within sight of the President’s House, where he lived until his death in 1844.  Very little is known about John Gadsby’s preference for Madeira let alone wine in general.  What we do know is that he put together a tremendous collection of wine over a period of 30 to 40 years.  During his retirement in 1839, he put up for auction an incredible “10,000 bottles of choice wine”.  Included was a parcel of “MADEIRA – imported in 1807, to order, for Mr. Jefferson”.  That John Gadsby owned wine imported for President Thomas Jefferson was clearly revealed when the remainder of his cellar was auctioned upon his death in 1844.

Mark on Cork, O. M. Y. W. – Superior old Madeira, from Newton, Gordon, Murdock & Co., imported expressly for President Jefferson, in 1807, and bottled in 1811; bought by J. Gadsby in 1819.”

Mark on Cork, M Y. W. – Same as lot marked O. M. Y. W. but bottled in pint bottles.  The Jefferson Wine of 1807.”

The advertisements do not claim that Thomas Jefferson ever owned these specific parcels of Madeira but the implication of “The Jefferson Wine” is strong.  This leaves the possibility that Thomas Jefferson refused delivery of an order he placed.   There are no records that Thomas Jefferson imported any wine from Newton, Gordon, Murdock, & Co., let alone sold any wine to John Gadsby in 1819.  In fact Thomas Jefferson’s last recorded purchase of Madeira occurred in 1804 for his favorite Brazil quality.  To find the origins of this Madeira we must turn to other records.  Thomas Jefferson and James Madison sometimes ordered wine together.   At times James Madison handled the correspondence for their joint orders but there are no records in this type of correspondence.  Madeira was the favorite drink of James Madison so he often ordered different types of Madeira separate from Thomas Jefferson.   It is in James Madison’s individual orders that a Madeira matches the description of the John Gadsby parcels.

Advertisement from September 11, 1844.

Advertisement from September 11, 1844.

Though the wine was attributed to Newton, Gordon, Murdock, & Co., the firm that was to become Cossart, Gordon, the key lies with the marked cork.  The mark of “O. M. Y. W.” stands for Old Murdoch Yuille Wardrop.  James Madison received two such pipes in 1807.  These pipes are described in several letters beginning with one received from Murdoch, Yuille, Wardrop, & Co. dated January 10, 1807.  This letter mentions that they had shipped “Two Pipe’s of our finest old wine” which were received several months later.

Thomas Jefferson and James Madison worked together, socialized together, and even lived near each other.  Unfortunately, there is a limit to the vinous details in their papers.  We do not know what specific bottles they drank when they were together or even if they shared the odd dozen bottles as a gift amongst friends.  James Madison, unlike Thomas Jefferson, did not detail when his pipes of Madeira were broached, bottled, and finished.  This prevents us from determining when he finished his Madeira so it is impossible to rule out James Madison as the source of John Gadsby’s bottles.

The second parcel of Thomas Jefferson Madeira is found amongst the wines of noted Baltimore collector Josiah Lee.  His cellar was described as the “largest private collection of rare and costly old wines.”  There was but one lot listed as “1 demijohn, 3 gallons, choice Old Jefferson Madeira”.  The sparse details yield no clues to how Josiah Lee acquired the wine.  This demijohn was purchased by Colonel John Edgar Howard after Josiah Lee’s death and remained in the family into the 1880s.  What happened to this demijohn remains a mystery.

The third and final parcel of Thomas Jefferson Madeira is that of the already mentioned Douglas H. Thomas.  He was considered Baltimore’s greatest Madeira connoisseur.  He purchased his Jefferson Madeira during April 1890, at the auction of the Wethered family estate Ashlyns in Maryland.  Historic accounts of this wine and contemporary images of the labels all reveal the same information: “Jefferson Madeira. Vintage 1800. Purchased at the Sale of the Effects of President Jefferson. 1843”.  That this Madeira was owned by Thomas Jefferson is cast into doubt for there is no record of his having ordered a vintage 1800 Madeira, there was no Madeira left at Monticello upon his death, and there was no sale of Thomas Jefferson’s effects in 1843.  It appears that the 1843 date might be a transcription mistake of 1834.  In 1896 both Charles Bellows, a Madeira expert and wine merchant, writing in Bonfort’s Circular and another journalist in The Washington Post state that this wine had laid in the cellar “until 1834”.  This is the date that Dr. Charles Barclay sold Monticello to Lieutenant Uriah Phillips Levy.

Description of Jefferson Madeira from October 11, 1904.

Description of Jefferson Madeira from October 11, 1904.

Charles Bellows specifically wrote that the Madeira “remained in the cellars of Thomas Jefferson, at Monticello, until 1834, when it was purchased”.  He does not state the Madeira was owned by Thomas Jefferson rather that it was in the cellars at Monticello.  Dr. Charles Barclay did drink wine but does not appear to have documented his purchases.  There is no mention of wine nor spirits in the Barclay papers nor in the depositions regarding the property included in the sale of Monticello.  Thus we cannot determine if Dr. Charles Barclay had Madeira in the Monticello cellars during 1834.  The Jefferson Madeira bottles contain labels created by Douglas H. Thomas so we do not know how the Madeira was identified when purchased in 1890.  Period advertisements indicate there was an auction catalog and Benjamin Wallace wrote of such catalog but there appears to be no surviving copies.  Thus we are left with no clues prior to 1890.

There is no documentary evidence that any of these bottles of Madeira were owned by Thomas Jefferson.  For now it is not possible determine if John Gadby’s Jefferson bottles were misattributed bottles of James Madison’s, bottles given to Thomas Jefferson from James Madison, or bottles sold to John Gadsby simply using the Thomas Jefferson name.  Josiah Lee’s demijohn has maddeningly little documentation surrounding it such that it stands out like a blip.  Finally, Douglas H. Thomas’ bottles could have come from Dr. Charles Barclay but that remains a suggestion until further documentation comes to light.  What is clear is that less than two decades after Thomas Jefferson passed away his name was associated with wine at auction.  That we know this is due in part to the American custom of naming Madeira.  As with the 20th century sales of Rodenstock’s and Thomas’s bottles, this association caught the attention of wine lovers and generated a series of newspaper articles.  I should note that James Madison made a rare purchase of Madeira from the 1800 vintage.  It would have been a sweet story if the Gadsby and Thomas parcels represented treasured wine shared amongst wine-loving friends.

You may have noticed that my normal array of endnotes is missing.  For the past year I have researched these three parcels of Madeira to the full extent possible.  Fearing that such details might detract from the general story I will be publishing my parcel specific research, full of endnotes, over the next three days.