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Paul Revere, Patriot and Silversmith
For a full century the Boston News Letter carried advertisements of the silversmithing business of Paul Revere, father and son. The elder, christened Apollos Rivoire, was born in 1702 on the Isle of Guernsey of Huguenot parents. When only a lad of thirteen he arrived in America, landing in Boston where he was apprenticed to the leading silversmith and engraver of the first paper money used in the Colonies, John Coney (1650-1722).
By 1723 he had nis own shop and his name had been Anglicized as Paul Revere. In early eighteenth-century America, Boston was the center of colonial wealth with a growing demand for such household luxuries as silver plate which was both a symbol of gentle living and a good investment. The elder Paul prospered and made the name of Revere a synonym for fine silver. His son, Paul, the third of thirteen children, carried on the tradition and made it celebrated.
Most of the silver bearing the Revere mark still in existence was made by Paul the patriot and a man of many accomplishments. He was born in 1735 and was trained in his father's shop where his apprenticeship included designing and making various types of hollow ware as well as chasing and engraving. On the death of his father in 1754, Paul II, then nineteen years of age, inherited a well-established business.
The Georgian style was in favor at the time and he worked in that rococo fashion until the start of the American Revolution when the numerous patriotic demands on his time and energy interfered seriously with the silversmithing business. After the war, he worked in the classic style, which had been introduced in England by the Brothers Adam, and produced some of his finest pieces during the closing years of the eighteenth century. The fluted sugar urn in Illustration 88 is a typical example. The steepled cover has a scalloped rim and is surmounted by a cone-shaped finial. The body is of classic outline with fluting and bright-cut ornamentation. This piece has an auction record price of $2,200. Artistically it compares favorably with the best work of such English silversmiths as Hester Bateman.
Paul Revere lived to be eighty-three years old and was apparently successful in whatever he undertook, whether in craftsmanship, business, or civic affairs. Besides his fine hollow ware, he also devoted himself to spoon-making, the backbone of silversmithing business in America. Many families who could not afford fine table pieces were good customers for spoons of varying sizes. In Illustration 89 there are two views of a Paul Revere teaspoon. A chased design, bright-cut with the initials of owner, ornaments the front of the handle. The upper view is of the back of spoon and shows his touch mark, "REVERE" in an oblong, on the center of handle.
During his long life he used five touch marks. The earliest, "P. REVERE" in rectangle, was probably the one used by his father. Then came "REVERE" in rectangle with pellet before; "PR" in capital script in rectangle, either alone or with second mark; REVERE in rectangle, and the same with lower left corner cut.