Jefferson’s Desk

Time Period
1825 to 1860
American Revolution
Decorative Arts
Domestic Life
Politics & Government
Science & Technology

Is this Jefferson’s desk? There are many reproductions of the desk on which Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. Some have even been mistaken for the original. This replica, stamped with a small Romal Numeral "VI" in the bottom of the drawer, was built by James Degges on behalf of Henry Flagg French and given as a gift to the United States Department of the Treasury. Each replica contained a copy of the letter written by Jefferson through a photographic method called “photographic drawing” and indistinguishable from the original with the naked eye. Dated November 1825, the letter was written by Thomas Jefferson to his granddaughter Eleanora Randolph Coolidge to inform her that he was sending his "writing box" as a wedding present. Jefferson’s original desk is at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. 

About the desk: This portable writing desk made from walnut and inlaid with holly has multiple compartments for desk and writing accessories, including a drawer with a pull handle and a rail at the bottom to hold papers in place and keep them from falling. Two writing surfaces offer both a wooden surface and a green felted surface, and a wooden kick stand with brass hinges has seven slots for adjusting the level of incline for each surface.

This desk inherited by Mrs. John B. Minor from her uncle, William Hamilton Degges of Washington, D.C., was donated to the Virginia Historical Society in 1956. 

A rectangular wooden desk, with writing surface closed
Reproduction of Jefferson’s Writing Desk, Closed
A rectangular wooden desk, with writing surface propped at an angle and drawer opened
Reproduction of Jefferson's Desk, Open

Upper desk surface with wooden rail

A rectangular wooden desk, opened with a letter on its surface
Reproduction of Jefferson's Desk

Wooden writing surface with a copy of an 1825 letter by Thomas Jefferson to his granddaughter Eleanora Randolph Coolidge.

Reproduction of Jefferson's Desk

Felted writing surface propped open by a built-in, adjustable wooden kickstand with brass hinges.