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This piano-shaped necessaire, a small box for holding personal items, was made in France around 1825. It doubles as a sewing kit and music box. The top layer holds scissors, a needle case, a thimble, a hook crochet bodkin, a round winder, two matching reels, a crystal bottle for rose water or perfume, and an…

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST: And I’m about to take you inside an unusual museum – unusual because most people will never see it. Normally, you need a top-secret security clearance to get up here. So we’ve just walked down. You’ve just pulled back the curtain. And what are we looking at? BILL EVANINA: The very…

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While John Jay was Secretary for Foreign affairs, his wife Sarah was a renowned hostess. She kept this list of invitations as a means of tracking guests. The date on the far right of this page, October 22, 1787, shows Alexander Hamilton and James Madison among the Federalists dining at the Jay’s home just five…

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This ornate pair of candlesticks, c. 1804-1815, is a great example of the French Empire style. Each is shaped like an urn on a pedestal, and the lid, when inverted can be inserted upside-down so that the otherwise ornamental piece can be used as a candleholder.  The varying leaf designs, and the lion’s head are both…

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The jar is engraved with classical decorations and the initials “F.J.,” for Fredrick Jay, John Jay’s brother. Tobacco jars were common during the colonial period, when pipes were the most common method of smoking. See this and other Jay family objects on our Family Ties collections tour at 2pm on Sunday, September 22.

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This week’s objects remember William Jay II’s service in the Civil War. Taken in 1865, the photo depicts William, in uniform, with his older sister, Eleanor Jay Chapman. The letter he wrote to his younger sister, Mary Jay, to congratulate her on her engagement to William Schieffelin. In it he expressed his fear that not…

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This mid-19th century silk bonnet may have belonged to Augusta McVickar Jay, John Jay’s daughter-in-law. The “cottage bonnet” was a popular women’s hat during the time Augusta and her husband, William Jay, lived at Bedford House. It was designed specifically for outdoor wear in the countryside as it protected the face and neck from the sun. Join our “Dress for…

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In 1790 at the age of 14, Peter Augustus Jay, eldest son of John Jay, painted a copy (right) of Major William Blodgett’s watercolor depicting the Polyanthous flower (left). Bloggett, a member of General Washington’s staff, gifted the original painting to Susannah Livingston, Peter’s aunt. Join us on our Connecting to Collections tour: Stop Copying Me, (Sunday, September…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…