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…