Writing Instruments and Ink

From Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia

No article yet exists on this topic. The following are primary source references to writing instruments and ink compiled by Monticello researchers.



1804 June 24. (Charles Willson Peale to Jefferson). "But if a steel pen is used to write with, and a quill pen in the copy, then the screw of the meetal pen will be perfectly convenient for adjusting the touch of both. My letter of the 18th contains the advantages of using the steel [pen] and quill pens togather [sic], and which may obviate the evil mentioned in yours of the 20th."[1]

1822 March 19. (Jefferson to Dewitt Clinton). "I, thank you, Dear Sir, for the elegant pen you have been so kind as to send me; they perform their office admirably. I had formerly got such from Baltimore, but they were of steel, and their points rusted off immediately."[2]

1824 May 13. (Jefferson to Bernard Peyton). "I saw yesterday in the hands of Mr. Dyer, a fountain pen, one of the best I ever saw. He said it was made for him by Mr. Cowan, a watchmaker of Richmond and cost him 5 D. The outer tube was silver, but the two leaves of the pen were gold, and not other metal will resist the corrosion of the ink. Pray get the favor of Mr. Cowan to make such an one for me and add this to the many kind offices you render me, and which entitle you to my affectionate attamt."[3]

1824 May 16. (Bernard Peyton to Jefferson). "I will have the pen made for you, by Cowan, as requested, immediately, and forwarded by some safe private hand."[4]

1824 May 20. (Bernard Peyton to Jefferson). "I have procured the fountain Pen you wish, which shall be ford. by the first safe private hand-price $5."[5]

1824 May 27. (Bernard Peyton to Jefferson). "Your Pencil or rather fountain Pen, forwarded the other day, by Mr. Winn of Charlottesville, to whom I had. dft: in his favor."[6]


1802 January 4. Inkstand and red inkpowder."[7]

1802 February 3. "One bottle red ink."[8]

1802 April 14. "One bottle copying ink."[9]

1802 October 20. "One bottle copying ink."[10]


  1. Lillian B. Miller, ed. The Selected Papers of Charles Willson Peale and His Family. (New Haven: Yale University Press), 2, part 2:722.
  2. Library of Congress. http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=mtj1&fileName=mtj1page053.db&recNum=56
  3. Massachusetts Historical Society. http://www.masshist.org/findingaids/doc.cfm?fa=fa0031
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Jefferson's Ledger to William Duane. Huntington Library. http://content.cdlib.org/view?docId=tf5t1nb165&doc.view=entire_text&brand=oac
  8. Ibid.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Ibid.

See Also