Chinese Export Tea Service

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The surviving pieces in this set are decorated in the Mandarin style popular at the turn of the 19th century. They depict images of high-ranking bureaucrats of the Chinese Empire, known as Mandarins, surrounded by panels of flowers and other ornamental designs. The coloring of this set is typical for the period with a combination…

Auguste Jay’s Book of Common Prayer

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This Book of Common Prayer, the official service book of the Church of England, belonged to John Jay’s paternal grandfather, Auguste Jay. Auguste, the first Jay to come to America, was a Huguenot fleeing religious persecution in France following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes by French King Louis XIV. Many Huguenot churches in…

Auguste Jay’s Letter of Denization

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Auguste Jay, grandfather of John Jay, received a Letter of Denization on March 4, 1686.  Written by Captain Thomas Dongan, provincial governor of New York under King James II, it affirms that Auguste Jay was a legal resident of the colony of New York and conveyed the privileges of a Denizen.  He could buy and…

Peter Jay’s Seal

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This silver seal, belonging to John Jay’s father, Peter Jay (1704-1782), bears the original Jay family coat of arms. The silver collar is very faintly and crudely scratched with his name “Peter Jay 1722.” Seals were used to keep a letter closed while in transit, and to tell the recipient if the letter had been…

New York State Militia Commission

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Commission appointing Abijah Holmes to the rank of ensign in the New York State Militia, signed by John Jay as governor on April 18, 1797. President George Washington directed Henry Knox, Secretary of War to devise a plan to use the state militias in war and national crisis. Knox’s efforts resulted in the 1792 Militia…

John Jay’s Sword

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This silver sword was worn by John Jay during formal occasions, especially while serving as a diplomat in Europe during the American Revolution. A sword was considered an essential part of a gentleman’s court attire. The sword was made in England by Thomas Chawner. It will be featured, along with other silver pieces from our…

John Jay’s Walking Stick

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This walking stick was a gift to John Jay from his friend and colleague William Bingham. The two met while serving on the Committee of Secret Correspondence during the American Revolution, but did not become close until a chance encounter on Bingham’s post of Martinique while the Jays were travelling to Spain on a diplomatic…

John Jay to Cesar Rodney 15 May 1779

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John Jay, as President of the Second Continental Congress, sent this letter to Delaware governor Cesar Rodney, informing him that British ships had been seen entering the Chesapeake Bay, an essential naval objective during the Revolutionary War.  Learn more about John Jay’s role during the American Revolution on our Thematic Tour offered at 2pm, Wednesday…

His Excellency John Jay

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This print depicts John Jay as President of Congress and Minister to Spain during the American Revolution. Congress sent Jay to Spain in 1779 to secure financial aid and Spanish recognition of American Independence. During his almost three years in Spain he was unable to secure an audience with King Charles III, or have America…

A John Jay Original

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Thanks to over 150 years of continuous family occupation, John Jay Homestead benefits from an unusually high survival of its original collections. Approximately 50% of the exhibited furniture and over 80% of the exhibited art are original to the house. Although some of these items were acquired by later generations of the Jay family, many…

Objects from Everyday Life

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The “JJ” monogrammed dinner service was made in the early 1770s, likely for the occasion of John and Sarah Jay’s wedding in 1774. It is Chinese export armorial porcelain, popular at the time. The pattern appears to be standard, with the monogram added for customization. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a set with this…

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…