Is This the Very Book
Shown in the Painting?
The research team has collected more than 400 rare artifacts (18th-century documents, books, pamphlets, newspapers, and other items) related to this project, including eight original editions of Mirabeau's De la Caisse d'Escompte, the 1785 book depicted in the portrait.1 If Thomas Jefferson is indeed the subject, one of those books—an inscribed copy purchased from an antiquarian bookseller in Paris, France in July 2004—may be the very one shown in the painting.
There are three reasons for considering this speculative possibility, and for wanting to bring it to the attention of other researchers.
A very old crimp in the upper-right corner of the first page of the inscribed book and a very old crimp in the lower-right corner of the second page of this book—both of which are features depicted in the 1785 portrait—are consistent with the possibility that the inscribed book was used as the model for the book shown in the painting. However, because this type of damage could easily occur to any old book, these flaws by themselves are not strong evidence that the inscribed book is the very one depicted. On the other hand, had these flaws not existed in the inscribed book, the research team would have used that observation to eliminate the book as a likely candidate for the exact one depicted in the painting.
References and notes
 For books (actually "pamphlets") of this sort, typically no more than 800 were printed—and usually far fewer. (Source: private correspondence with Dieter Stecher, rare book dealer in Egelsbach, Germany, 13 October 2009.) Although we do not know how many copies of this particular title were printed, the research team found no evidence of a second edition.
 Benjamin Franklin's grandsons were William Temple Franklin and Benjamin Franklin Bache. The former served as Benjamin Franklin's private secretary during the French mission. Benjamin Franklin, upon returning to America, organized his massive book collection using a system of "shelf marks." These were written in the books in two different hands—probably by his grandsons (see "Poor Richard's Books," compiled by James Green, 1990, p. 10). Many of Franklin's shelf-marked books are now possessed by The Library Company of Philadelphia. Analysis there on 27 September 2010 by Librarian James Green—comparing the handwriting in the inscribed edition of De la Caisse d'Escompte with the handwriting used to inscribe the shelf markings in Franklin's books—indicated that the handwriting in the French book did not match that in Franklin's books. (Source: private correspondence with James Green, The Library Company of Philadelphia, 27 September 2010.)
 Carl Van Doren, Benjamin Franklin, The Viking Press, New York, NY, 1938, pp. 723-724.
 The evidence that Benjamin Franklin (departing from Passy on 12 July 1785 to return to America) sent a collection of books to Thomas Jefferson (serving in Paris as the American Minister to France at that time, having recently taken Franklin's former position there) is that payment for moving these books from Passy to Paris is included among Jefferson's personal itemized expenses. It is listed by Jefferson in his ledger as: "portage of books frm. Passy 4 – 4." (The expense is denominated in livres tournois.) This payment was made to "Marc" (last name unknown), Jefferson's French valet at the time. Marc was first employed by Jefferson on 20 August 1784 and dismissed from Jefferson's service on 26 June 1786 for "embezzlements and depredations." What little is known about him is discussed primarily in The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Volume 10, edited by Julian P. Boyd, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 1954, pp. 213-214. The source for the Jefferson ledger entry described above is: Jefferson's Memorandum Books—Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767-1826, Volume I, edited by James A. Bear, Jr. and Lucia C. Stanton, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 1997, p. 590. Jefferson also mentioned his receipt of Franklin's book shipment in a letter to John Adams dated 28 July 1785 (see The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Volume 8, edited by Julian P. Boyd, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 1953, p. 317).
 The research team has found no reference to the book De la Caisse d'Escompte in Jefferson's records of his book holdings. However, other books left by Franklin for Jefferson on 12 July 1785 likewise do not show up in Jefferson's records. Specifically, the books from Franklin referred to by Jefferson as "Corps diplomatique"—probably Jean Dumont's Corps Universel Diplomatique du droit des gens,…, a set of volumes published in 1726-39—are not listed in Jefferson's inventories. Nonetheless, in a letter to John Adams dated 28 July 1785, Jefferson acknowledged receiving these books from Franklin. (For the letter to Adams, see The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Volume 8, edited by Julian P. Boyd, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 1953, pp. 315-320. Background on the Dumont books was provided in private correspondence with James Green, The Library Company of Philadelphia, 27 September 2010.)
 Using temporary bindings ("interim wrappers") was common in the late 18th century. They were only intended to protect the pages of books until permanent bindings were applied, whereupon they were discarded. As a result, temporary covers were sometimes affixed haphazardly, and the external appearance of temporarily bound books in a given print run could vary.
 This caption was extracted by imaging the type indentations (print through) on the inside of the front cover and then inverting the resulting image, allowing the backward printing to be read.
 Antonina Vallentin, Mirabeau, translated by E.W. Dickes, The Viking Press, New York, NY, 1948, p. 214.
 Although we have no direct evidence that Jefferson and/or Franklin possessed De la Caisse d'Escompte, we know that both were well acquainted with the author and owned other books by him. We also know that, in 1785, Jefferson was very interested in the topics discussed in the book—personally, and in his role as the American Minister to France. It is highly likely, therefore, that he would have read it.