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Lot 47: THORNTON, WILLIAM. Autograph Letter Signed, to William P. Elliott ("My worthy young Friend"),
01 November 2016
New York, NY, USALive Auction
Description: CO-DESIGNER OF U.S. CAPITOL BUILDING THORNTON, WILLIAM. Autograph Letter Signed, to William P. Elliott ("My worthy young Friend"), requesting that he research a number of topics: the prices of statues offered at Coade's in London, possible markets for his artificial stone, the cost to obtain basalt from Giant's Causeway in Ireland, possible government markets for his coffee roasting method, and, in a postscript additionally Signed with initials, requesting that the enclosed be forwarded [not present]. With an Autograph Note Signed, "A.G.," by former Ambassador to Great Britain Albert Gallatin, written on address leaf: "[Secretary of Legation William Beach] Lawrence is requested to send this letter, enquire first whether the person to whom directed lives in Norfolk St." 3 pages, 4to, written on a folded sheet; seal tear affecting text and Gallatin's note with loss of few words, folds. (MRS) Washington, 28 October 1827
". . . I should have been highly gratified in visiting Coade's Manufactory of Artificial Stone. I am sorry that you could not obtain for me a Catalogue of the various ornaments & beautiful sculptured pieces that are there fabricated & daily exhibited. . . . The Statues were only from 25 to ab't 30 or 35 Guineas . . . . Please to ask what they would charge me for them in Plaister of Paris, because by saturating them with boiled oil & glue then painting them I could make them stand for a lifetime. If they will permit a cast . . . of the finest of the Vestals, or any elegant Female Figures, sufficiently covered to suit the Taste of the Americans, . . . you will very much oblige me by enquiring what they will charge for them individually abt. 6ft. high.
"I have, as you know, made many very valuable discoveries in the Arts, and I should be very glad if I could get some of them patented in England. . . . I have invented a mode of making Stones, Whetstones, Grindstones, polishing wheels &c superior to any natural ones that I ever saw, but so perfectly like the best of the kind that they have compleatly deceived the best Judges . . . .
"I wish also that you would do me the favor of enquiring who is the Proprietor of the Giant's Causeway in Ireland, and be so good as to ascertain on what Terms he would permit me to have as much of the Stone as might be wanted, without stating who wants it. The purpose for which I want it is to cast pipes for conveying water, under ground, & for casting into various utensils. . . . It will melt into a fine black glass . . . . I wish to cast, on a large Scale, the paving Stone [with] which the Streets are paved. In London they are now paved with granite, which . . . costs a great deal of labour . . . . Among other things as the Government roast all the Coffee . . . . I can put them in the way of making one pound of Coffee into two of equally good quality, & by supplying the Navy & Army with this, I may make more perhaps than by any other Invention . . . . It is not only a capital but new chemical Invention. . . . I am surprised that after I proposed [Dr. Thornton] as an honorary member of the Columbian Institute, Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Madison & himself I believe were the only honorary members, he never wrote to me a line . . . . Please to ask him what was done with my paper on Comets; if it was delivered to the Royal Society, or to any of its members? . . . If the learned Society disapprove of it, I will send them another paper . . . ."