JEFFERSON, Thomas (1743-1826)
Notes on the state of Virginia
London: printed for John Stockdale, 1787. 8vo. (8 1/4 x 4 3/4 inches). ,382pp., plus folding table. [With:] Engraved folding map, titled "A Map of the country between Albermarle Sound and Lake Erie, comprehending the whole of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania." Hand coloured in outline. Expert restoration at the folds with minor facsimile. Matted.
Contemporary tree calf, expertly rebacked to style retaining the original lettering piece
Provenance: George Washington Craik (signature)
The first English edition of Jefferson's famous work. This is the only book-length work by Jefferson to be published in his lifetime, and has been called "one of America's first permanent literary and intellectual landmarks." With provenance to one of George Washington's secretaries.
Jefferson's greatest work was largely written in 1781 and first published in Paris in 1785. Written in the form of answers to questions about Virginia, the book supplies a description of the geography, with an abundance of supporting material and unusual information. As J.M. Edelstein notes: "Jefferson wrote about things which interested him deeply and about which he knew a great deal; the Notes, therefore, throws a fascinating light on his tastes, curiosities, and political and social opinions." The handsome map which accompanies this edition (but is often lacking), based on the Fry and (Peter) Jefferson map, was not issued with the Paris editions. The story of the creation of this book and its publishing history is an interesting one. It is told fully by Millicent Sowerby in her catalogue of Jefferson's library, where it occupies some thirty pages in small type.
This example of the book together with its important map, here separately matted: "Densely packed with place-names, save in its western parts, the map is devoid of ornamentation ... The map presents Jefferson's cool scientific demeanor as a man of the Enlightenment -- all data and no embellishment ... Thomas Jefferson was a synthesizer who brought together the best existing work" (Mapping Virginia).
This copy of the book was owned and is inscribed by George Washington Craik (1774-1808), the son of George Washington's personal physician, James Craik. The younger Craik's education was underwritten by Washington, and he became one of Washington's secretaries in 1796.
Adams The Eye of Thomas Jefferson 57; Clark I:262; Howes J78; Sabin 35895; cf. Sowerby IV, pp.301-30; Vail 760; Mapping Virginia 113.