Wedgwood Hedgehog Bulb Pot

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The hedgehog’s body and the tray below would hold soil; crocus or other bulbs would be planted and forced to bloom through the holes. It was made in 1771 by Josiah Wedgwood, founder of the Wedgwood factory, who is generally credited with the industrialization of the manufacture of pottery. It is Black Basalt, made from…

John Jay to Peter Augustus Jay – 21 Feb 1815

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A letter from John Jay to his son, Peter Augustus, written four days after the United States ratified the Treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812. Jay, like most Federalists, was opposed to the war. In this letter, he refers to “the delusion which caused it,” likely referring to the growing American expansionist fervor…

Rhine Wine Glass

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Rhine wine glass, with “WJ” cypher and the cross from the Jay family crest.  Made for Col. William Jay and his wife Lucie in the late 19th or early 20th century.  During the period called the Gilded Age, society figures like the Jays put on elaborate, multi-course dinners.  It was conventional for most of the wine served…

Marble Mantel Piece

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When New York State first came into procession of John Jay’s Bedford House in 1959, we embarked upon a large-scale restoration with the intent of returning the house, as much as possible, to its appearance during John Jay’s lifetime. Thought to be from a later period, the marble mantels in the dining room and parlor…

John Jay to Samuel Lyon – July, 1799

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While serving his second term as Governor of New York, John Jay was simultaneously preparing his farm at Bedford for his approaching retirement. Jay’s farm manager, Samuel Lyon, was overseeing the expansion of Bedford House for the Jay family, and the construction of the Brick Cottage for his own. This July 1799 letter addresses several…

Historic Wallpaper

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During the restoration of John Jay Homestead in the early 1960s, this fragment of wallpaper was discovered behind a built-in bookcase of John Jay’s office. The piece recovered has a faint pencil inscription with delivery instructions to “John Jay Esq./ Bedford,” confirming that it was in Bedford House while John Jay lived here. The wallpaper was recently reproduced and installed in…

Barometer

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This Barometer would have been useful for John Jay as a gentleman farmer. It contains mercury, and measures not only the temperature, but also barometric pressure, which can aid in predicting short-term weather. Farmers, like Jay, could dictate the day’s work based upon the forecast. Come see the barometer, and learn about Jay’s relationship with fellow farmer…

John Paul Jones by Houdon

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This plaster bust of Revolutionary War Naval Commander John Paul Jones was done by French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon in 1787. Often referred to as “The Father of the American Navy,” Jones had several copies of the original marble bust made and sent to John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, and other important figures in the Early Republic. The…

John Jay’s Celestial Globe

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John Jay’s original celestial globe is an optical planetarium, made by notable British globe makers William Bardin and his son Thomas Marriot Bardin, who began production of their globes in 1790. The celestial map shows positions of stars, clusters, nebula, and planetary bulae. The months of the year and corresponding zodiac signs are around the base. The…

Thomire Urns

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On a recent visit to the Cooper Hewitt, some of the Homestead’s staff had the opportunity to see a Surtout de Table (Table centerpiece) made by Pierre-Philippe Thomire. It is said to have been a present from Napoleon to his stepson Eugène de Beauharnais. Elements from that piece are almost identical to those seen on…

Sarah Livingston Jay’s Teapot

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Owned by John Jay’s wife, Sarah Livingston Jay, this c. 1710 Peter Van Dyke (1684-1750) teapot was originally made for her Aunt and passed to her through her mother. It was owned by three subsequent generations of the Jay family until Pierre Jay (1870-1949) loaned it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where it spent…

Silk Coin Purse

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This green silk coin purse engraved with “Miss Jay” on the silver frame, belonged to either Nancy or Sarah Louisa Jay, John Jay’s two younger daughters. Coin purses constructed with rigid frames came into popularity in the early 19th century. Often the metal frames were purchased, and the fabric bags were knitted by young women…

Maria Jay’s Gouache

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This Gouache (a type of opaque watercolor) is one of a pair that were painted by Maria Jay Banyer, John Jay’s daughter, when she was 18. They depict the Falls of Lodore in Cumbria County, England. Maria copied the original paintings by William Burgess. Maria was a well-educated, and talented artist who continued to draw and…

Sewing Table

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This work table is part of a pair that belonged to Nancy and Maria Jay, who were the daughters of John Jay. The sliding fabric screen on the table could be raised, which allowed a woman to work near a fire and protect her face from any discomfort or injury. The tables were commonly used…

Biennais Toilette de Lit

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This dressing mirror, or toilette de lit, was commissioned by Napoleon for his second wife, Princess Marie Louise of Austria-Hungary, to celebrate their wedding in 1810. Made by Martin Guillame-Biennais, First Goldsmith to the Emperor, the piece is awash with imperial symbolism and features a depiction of the Aldobrandini Wedding by engraver Augustin Dupré. It…

George Washington, by Patience Wright

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Happy Birthday George Washington! This framed wax bust of Washington was created by Patience Lovell Wright (1725-1786). Wright was widowed in 1769 and needed a way to support her children. With her sister, also a widow, she set up a business creating wax portraits. In 1783 Wright wrote to John Jay of her intention to…

Stephen and Harriet Myers Letters

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Stephen and Harriet Myers, former slaves themselves, ran the Underground Railroad office in Albany, NY, and worked directly with John Jay II in their efforts to bring runaway slaves to freedom. We have three letters from 1860 in our collection from the Myerss that speak to Jay’s relationship with the couple and dedication to their…

Marquis de Lafayette

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This print of the Marquis de Lafayette was engraved by Noel Le Mire (1724-1800) after a painting by Jean Baptiste le Paon (1736-1785). It depicts the famous French General with his aide, and spy, James Armistead. Armistead was a key operative for Lafayette during the later years of the Revolution, working as a double agent….