Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Jefferson, Thomas (1743-1826) [Patent for Edward West's improvement, being a machine for cutting and heading nails]

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also order a pdf of the image from us here.

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC06238 Author/Creator: Jefferson, Thomas (1743-1826) Place Written: Washington, D.C. Type: Document signed Date: 6 July 1802 Pagination: 2 p. ; 36.1 x 29.6 cm.

Signed by Thomas Jefferson as President. Countersigned by James Madison as Secretary of State and Levi Lincoln as Attorney General. West's written description of his invention is signed by Andrew Holmes and Lewis Sanders as witnesses. Contains a paper seal and faded white ribbon. Several unattached ribbon scraps accompany this document.

Edward West, a Lexington, Kentucky watchmaker and silversmith, also patented a steam engine and a gun lock. His nail-cutting and heading machine was the first of its kind, and West is said to have been paid $10,000 for what was, at the time, an important innovation.

Order a CopyCitation Guidelines for Online Resources