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Bookcase and Press

Bookcase and Press View Interactive Version ]

This unusual piece has two distinct parts that have been paired together: a tall narrow bookcase with five shelves set atop a press. The bookcase has a strong family tradition that states that it was actually made by Jefferson, ". . . he having made the upper part of the Bookcase with his own hands and having kept it in his bedroom with a reading chair standing by, keeping in this Bookcase such books as he was currently reading. . . " According to family tradition, the press with four interior shelves was used by Jefferson to store memoranda concerning the farm and observations on the weather.

The bookcase and press are identified on Cornelia Randolph's drawing of Monticello's floor plan, which reveals a small bookcase next to the mantelpiece in Jefferson's bedroom.

The top of the press features an astragal molding typical of Monticello-made furniture. One of the two unmatched bail handles on the sides of the press exactly matches a joinery-made dumbwaiter. The interior of the door has an inscription in Jefferson's handwriting, beginning with the words "Dead Papers" (the rest is illegible).

Artist/Maker Unspecified
Origin/PurchaseMonticello Joinery
Object TypeFurniture and Lighting
MaterialsBookcase: mahogany; Press: Mahogany, mahogany veneer over pine on door, walnut breadboard ends, and
DimensionsBookcase: 49 1/4 x 14 1/2 x 6 7/8 in.; Press: 32 x 16 1/4 x 13 3/4 in.
LocationJefferson's Bedchamber


  1. Affidavit Concerning Jefferson Bookcase, Virginia Randolph Shackelford, 20 September 1936.

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