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Old And Sold Antiques Digest Article

Metal Antiques - Copper

[Indispensable Metals]  [Pewter]  [Brass]  [Bronze]  [Copper]  [Iron]  [Tinware] 

( Originally Published 1963 )

More extensive deposits of copper exist in the United States than in any other country in the world. The Indians of the Plains States and Rocky Mountain area used copper to make implements and ornaments. White settlers in the East and Midwest also liked articles made of copper. This metal was not easy for them to obtain. Although Paul Revere is known to have been a coppersmith as well as a silversmith, most articles of copper as well as brass were imported during Colonial days. Records show that sheets of copper were hammered and rolled out in this country by 1800 or a little earlier. However, little of the copperware still to be located was made before 1830.

Raw copper is red, and polished copper pieces are distinguished by their pink glow, sometimes almost a golden pink. Copper, incidentally, is not affected by dry air, but in moist air containing carbonic acid it develops a green coating known as verdigris.

Many of the same utensils were made in copper and brass. It seems to have been a matter of personal taste during the 1800's whether a teakettle, chocolate pot or coffeepot, pans, dippers, pitchers, and mugs were bought in copper or brass.

Candlesticks, andirons, and furniture hardware were usually made of brass. On the other hand, copper seems to have been the first choice for pudding molds, measures except those used in taverns, and utensils for dairies and shops such as those that sold drugs.

Unusual things of copper to be on the lookout for are the cone-shaped ale warmers that were stuck between the logs in a fireplace, and small copper pots with lip and handle, for heating liquids over the coals. You may discover, after polishing them, that many everyday items such as funnels, dippers, and skillets are copper. If they were used from 70 to 100 years ago, they are valuable now.

The oval wash boiler used for laundry work in the early 1900's can be sold for a good price if it is made of copper. This is a container about 3 feet long and 20 inches high, with a handle at each rounded end and a tight-fitting cover. It was used to boil clothes in order to get them clean. A copper one can be sold now for $12 or so. Copper chafing dishes, also popular in the early 1900's, bring good prices too-$25 or more, depending on condition.

A copper teakettle was a welcome Christmas gift as late as the 1870's. One can be sold now for $25 to $35, depending on its age, the type of handle, and the shape. Coffeepots of copper, if in poor condition, sell for about $7.50; those in excellent condition, for as much as $15. Teapots, which often are beautifully shaped, sell for somewhat higher prices. Most valuable of all is a copper weathervane, but even a funnel or dipper in good condition can be worth $5 or $6.

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