St. Thomas's Dumbbell


Pictured here is an aluminum replica of the dumbbell Thomas Jefferson used for exercise after breaking his wrists. Intended as a paperweight, it's available for 30 bucks from the Monticello Gift Collection, which also sells copies of Jefferson's furniture, family jewelry, and inventions. It even offers the sage's preferred coffee beans.

The relic trade is among man's oldest, and this catalog from The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation
is a reliquary in American dress. It transmutes period home accents into Enlightenment objects simply by association. In the end this is actually an interesting aggregate, because Jefferson himself was interesting. Where else will you find collected a working brass orrery (a tabletop solar system model), a rotating bookstand, and a Hemings family genealogy?

Yes, the Hemings connection is here; so is a booklet addressing Monticello slavery. Jefferson is not only surviving his debunkings, they appear to have become part of his mystique.

Customers will want to ponder their choices. "Never buy what you do not want, because it is cheap," the aged Jefferson wrote, perhaps reflecting on a lifetime of his own shopping. "It will be dear to you."