Lot 4: Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, Highly desirable partly-printed vellum DS
12th October 2016
Highly desirable partly-printed vellum DS, signed “Th: Jefferson” as president and “James Madison” as secretary of state, two pages, 11.75 x 14.5, August 2, 1808. An official patent issued to Elihu Hotchkiss, who “hath alleged that he has invented a new and useful improvement in a machine for cutting Straw.” Neatly signed at the conclusion by President Jefferson and countersigned by Secretary of State Madison, as well as Attorney General C. A. Rodney. The embossed white paper seal and light pink ribbons to the left side remain intact. The second page, still attached by the binding ribbon, contains Hotchkiss’s own detailed description of the straw-cutting machine. In excellent condition, with scattered soiling not affecting overall visual appeal. Unlike many inventions, Hotchkiss’s straw cutting machine actually met with success. In 1815 the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture awarded him a $75 prize for his ‘machine for cutting straw and corn-stalks,’ and recommended it as ’the best and cheapest machine for the purpose known in this country.’ References to the ‘Hotchkiss Straw Cutter’ appear in several different agricultural periodicals through the 1800s, nearly all praising the machine for its efficiency and ease of use. President Jefferson was an ardent promoter of agricultural techniques and innovation, making this an especially nice association.
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