“The Pride Which Pervades thro every Class”: The Customers of Paul Revere

Jeannine Falino

“You would be surprizd to see the Equipage, the Furniture and expensive Living of too many, the Pride and Vanity of Dress which pervades thro every Class, confounding every Distinction between the Poor and the Rich,” wrote Samuel Adams in 1785 to his cousin John.1 The displays of material wealth that Adams lamented were caused in part by rapid changes in population, occupations, and fortunes during the revolutionary period. However inappropriate this “expensive living” may have seemed to Adams, a trend toward broad ownership of genteel goods had been underway long before the colonial struggle for independence.

The Edinburgh-trained physician Alexander Hamilton, for instance, wrote of his encounter one evening in 1744 with a man named Morrison, whom he described in appearance as “a very rough spun, forward, clownish blade, much addicted to swearing, and yet at the same time desirous to pass for a gentleman.” Hamilton sensed Morrison’s keen awareness of their social differences as they sat together in a Delaware tavern, and his indignation when served a coarse meal of veal scraps in the physician’s presence. According to Hamilton’s recollection, Morrison declared that “tho he seemed to be but a plain, homely fellow, yet he would have us know that he was able to afford better than many that went finer: he had good linnen in his bags, a pair of silver buckles, silver clasps, and gold sleeve buttons, two Holland shirts, and some neat night caps; and that his little woman att home drank tea twice a day; and he himself lived very well and expected to live better.”2

Samuel Adams’s observations and Mr. Morrison’s gold buttons reflect an improved standard of living in eighteenth-century America as well as the desires of those who aspired to this better life. Scholars of consumption patterns in pre-industrial England and America have shown how a nascent, wage-based economy offered appealing alternatives to the subsistence and barter systems that had been in use since the Middle Ages. In the new, cash-based paradigm, people from all walks of life used their income to purchase goods. Even in the colonies, where currency problems were rife until the formation of the new republic, the power of the purse had an enormous impact upon the marketplace, where manufactured products at all price levels soon began to enter everyday life.3

In eighteenth-century Boston, where vessels from abroad arrived with daily cargoes of valuable ceramics, hardware, and textiles, among countless other manufactured goods, the material life of the young province began to approach that of England. In this new Anglo-American outpost, it was not long before these items ceased to be luxury products. Instead, they became everyday objects of “comfort, convenience, and indicators of gentility,” present at nearly every economic level of society.4 Taken together, these products define the consumer revolution in its infancy.

Although silver ranked near the apex of luxury items, probate records indicate that about 20 percent of New England households owned some silver by the second quarter of the eighteenth century.5 A close examination of who bought what from the silversmiths in the second half of the century can provide a particularly vivid picture of class and consumption in the Revolutionary era. The daybooks of Paul Revere II (1734–1818), the primary resource of this essay, will create that picture. Taken together with the data of Revere’s extant silver and other published research, they demonstrate that Revere stood at an intersection of Boston’s social and economic life and they reconfirm his status as Boston’s most prolific and entrepreneurial craftsman.6 At the same time, the daybooks provide a remarkable portrait of Revere himself, both as a businessman and as a local citizen (fig. 1).

The daybooks, also called wastebooks or ledgers, are two volumes that Revere maintained between 1763 and 1797 to track current orders for silver.7 Revere recorded 588 customers in the two books, noting the charges for services that ranged from fashioning complete tea sets to making shoe buckles, from engraving Masonic certificates and bookplates to cleaning teeth, making harnesses, and performing minor repairs. As extensive as the information in the daybooks is, the volumes do not constitute a complete source for tracing all of Revere’s silver; numerous pieces that he made during this period, including the Sons of Liberty Bowl, went unrecorded. To provide balance to the ledger records, the names of additional owners, gleaned from surviving objects, have been added for a total of 757 known patrons whose purchases ranged in date from 1754 to 1806.8

The consumption patterns of the era, described above, coincided with Revere’s talents and skills as an entrepreneur. Although the entire body of Revere’s silver production and the full complement of his patrons may never be fully known, the list of items and buyers noted in the daybooks can help determine how Revere’s life intersected with market forces. Contrary to what one might expect, Revere’s business did not entirely depend on high-end purchases from wealthy clientele, although he was one of the most successful colonial silversmiths and enjoyed their patronage. Rather, smaller purchases made up the large quantity of Revere’s business. As will be demonstrated, he outstripped his peers by matching silver production to meet the needs of colonial Bostonians hailing from various economic strata. At the same time, as an energetic member of many social and political groups, Revere netted roughly 20 percent of each group as clients.

Fig. 1. Paul Revere’s daybook, vol. 1, January 8, 1763. Revere Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.

A brief review of Revere’s career in contrast with those of his peers demonstrates that despite a slow start after his father’s death in 1754, the young patriot rapidly joined the ranks of Boston’s most productive silversmiths. Zachariah Brigden (1734–1787), Benjamin Burt (1729–1805), John Coburn (1724–1803), Daniel Henchman (1730–1775), and Samuel Minott (1732–1803) were Revere’s approximate equals in age and activity according to this definition. During the pre-war period, Revere made at least 175 objects, a respectable second place to the 185 made by Benjamin Burt (1729–1805), who was five years his senior and another silversmith’s son. Revere and Burt were far ahead of Brigden, Coburn, and Henchman, whose numbers were 56, 90, and 47, respectively. Only Samuel Minott came close to approaching the volume of Burt and Revere with 105 objects.9

TABLE 1. Paul Revere’s Silver Production, 1761–75 vs. 1779–97.

Source: Deborah Federhen, “Paul Revere, Silversmith: A Study of His Shop Operations and His Objects” (M.A. thesis, University of Delaware, 1988), table E.

His peers, fine silversmiths all, lost their momentum primarily to age, politics, and tradition. Samuel Minott sided with the English during the war and never regained his former level of activity; Daniel Henchman and Zachariah Brigden died early. Benjamin Burt held the most promise besides Revere for a long and busy career, but a comparison between Burt and Revere offers some clues to the latter’s success.10 During the pre-Revolutionary period, Burt’s clear superiority in numbers is easily appreciated by examining the most traditional forms favored at the time. He made forty canns to Revere’s ten, thirty-two porringers to Revere’s twenty-seven, twenty-six tankards to Revere’s sixteen, and thirteen teapots to Revere’s four. As years passed and the call for out-moded works declined, the situation reversed in Revere’s favor. After the war, Revere proved himself capable of turning out quantities of sugar bowls, creamers, and teapots to meet the new fashion for tea equipage. Burt, by comparison, made few of these items and eventually fell far behind, never again to surpass Revere.

Revere’s level of productivity was impressive; at least as remarkable was his ability to increase his business despite the disruptions of war and his own diverse activities. His ability to do so depended, again, on his entrepreneurial instinct, which led him both to maintain and exploit his many connections from many different social contexts and apparently to discern and respond to shifts in style and economy. Deborah Federhen, whose findings regarding Revere’s sales activities are more complete than those gleaned from the daybooks, demonstrates that Revere turned out a greater quantity of low-end goods than he did high-end. According to her research, Revere generated far more flatware, personal articles such as shoe or knee buckles, and a greater quantity of harness fittings than previously thought.

Altogether, Federhen established that between 1763 and 1797, Revere’s shop sold 565 hollowware items, a fraction of his total output of 4,792 objects. Of these, 2,479 pieces were flatware, 1,074 were personal items such as shoe and knee buckles, 1,044 were harness fittings, and 195 were miscellaneous items.11 While requests for hollowware rose somewhat after the war, flatware and harness trappings emerged as the major elements of Revere’s postwar production. The number of personal accessories, such as buttons, buckles, and rings, also grew in the daybooks from a pre-war figure of 449 to 623 items purchased between 1783 and 1797; they stand for the countless individuals like the “rough spun” Mr. Morrison, who believed that these modest items heralded a better standard of living for himself and his family (table 1).12

As these figures demonstrate, Revere’s true success lay in selling a high volume of low-end goods over a period of thirty years. If the daybooks are any indication, New England’s wealthy tended to buy ambitious forms like candlesticks and snuffer trays from abroad, and used domestic smiths such as Revere for mending and providing more common vessels and spoons. Middling patrons typically purchased small personal items, spoons, and some vessels directly from their local silversmiths. The cultivation of this clientele, which first centered on Revere’s family, neighbors, and congregation and gradually widened to include a social and political network, yielded an income that may have enabled him to attempt riskier ventures later in his career.

Among Revere’s buyers, as among colonial silver buyers in general, the purchase of common items such as spoons far outstripped hollowware purchases; in Revere’s orders, the ratio figured at nearly five to one and constituted the bulk of silver generated by his workshop. A relatively basic household necessity, spoons of any material appeared in colonial homes across the class spectrum. While eighteenth-century Americans first used wooden, horn, and pewter spoons for everyday use, they acquired silver as time and funds permitted. Small amounts of flatware and personal accoutrements made of precious metals first appeared in ordinary households about 1700. By the close of the century, a silver cup, a pair of spoons, or a watch could be found in all but the poorest households. In the postwar era, many modest Boston households owned at least one or two silver spoons, while those with greater incomes often owned a dozen or more. Most silversmiths at work in rural outposts produced modest quantities of spoons and little else.13

In contrast to the prevalence of spoons in Revere’s business, hollowware constituted only 11 percent of his total output during the pre-war years and less than 9 percent in the years thereafter. Revere maintained this modest percentage by shifting hollowware production in the postwar years to sugar bowls, creamers, sugar tongs, and spoons—all newly fashionable forms of tea equipage. A review of the clientele for these more expensive items will turn up few government appointees or members of the mercantile elite, as these were the leading citizens who preferred imported goods. Revere’s customers for these luxury items were, instead, prosperous merchants and tradesmen of the region. Their purchases, often made to commemorate marriage and birth, took place regardless of external events, as borne out by the seventy-five pieces of hollowware they acquired from Revere during the Revolutionary War.14 These customers probably would have bought even more silver from Revere if political and military activities had not kept him from his bench.

With the increased business that came into his shop after the war, Revere achieved near dominance of silver teapot production.15 He produced thirty-eight teapots during the same period that Burt and Brigden, for example, managed only five.16 Although colonial resistance to English taxes had restricted the drinking of tea beginning in the 1770s, with the new republic this beverage quickly returned to its former popularity. Given the variety of materials then available, the popularity of silver teapots in the postwar era is all the more remarkable. Customers could choose from an ever-growing variety of materials that ranged from inexpensive ceramics, pewter, and fused or “Sheffield” plate to silver vessels made by local Boston silversmiths.

Revere probably owed his success to a variety of factors. As a mature silversmith by 1780, Revere certainly benefited by return business from old customers and new ones acquainted with him from social or political encounters. He may also have enjoyed greater visibility among the silver-purchasing public due to his revolutionary activities, though no evidence now available can prove or disprove that thesis. His high production of fluted teapots, fashioned with rolled sheet silver, demonstrates his command of a stylish and economical method that may have proved attractive to his customers.17 Finally, Paul Revere III (1760–1813) may have revitalized his father’s shop at a time when the patriot was attending to other business endeavors.

Other shifts in consumer trends also show markedly in Revere’s later career. He took advantage of a growing desire to purchase silver in larger groups: whereas pre-war buyers usually purchased silver as single pieces, larger tea services purchased en suite came into vogue after the war. The broker John Templeman and his wife, Mehitable (1792), Burrell and Anne (Zeagers) Carnes (1793) (fig. 2), and merchant William Shattuck (1795) each ordered beverage services of varying sizes from Revere.18 Other customers purchased spoons in sets of six and twelve, adding significantly to the spoon volume mentioned above. Revere also demonstrated his responsiveness to consumer trends in his mastery of the water pitcher, another form that he produced in significant numbers near the end of his silversmithing career.19 At the end of the eighteenth century, so-called Liverpool ceramic pitchers were shipped from England in quantities to meet consumer demand in the new republic. Revere adapted the barrel-shaped form to silver beginning about 1800, thus creating a domestic source of competition for the import (fig. 3). Ebenezer Moulton of Newburyport, who hailed from the next generation of silversmiths, also took advantage of this opportunity; however, John Coburn, Benjamin Burt, and Samuel Minott, all of whom lived into the first years of the nineteenth century, failed to make this new and desirable item available to their customers.20

Fig. 2. Paul Revere (1734–1818), ladle and tea and coffee service, Boston, Massachusetts, 1793. Silver; h. (coffee urn) 13⅝ in. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Arthur Mason Knapp Fund (20.1634); Gift of Henry Davis Sleeper in memory of his mother, Maria Westcote Sleeper, by exchange (60.1419–20); Pauline Revere Thayer Collection, by exchange (60.1421–22).

Fig. 3. Paul Revere (1734–1818), pitcher, Boston, Massachusetts, ca.1800. Silver; h. 6⅞ in. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, gift of William Westfall (1991.1093).

Income, Status, and Occupation

Slightly more than half of Revere’s known patrons, or 361 individuals, have been identified according to their occupation and grouped according to their professional or artisanal status. To best reflect the social organization of Revere’s time, this essay considers each of these groups according to the processional order used in honor of President Washington’s arrival in Boston on October 19, 1789.21 The Washington Procession gave priority to a largely educated group composed of town officials, clergymen, physicians, lawyers, merchants, traders, and masters of vessels; they were followed by the city’s artisans, ordered alphabetically by craft. Of the latter group, nearly fifty different trades were represented, ranging from bakers, blacksmiths, and blockmakers to saddlers, shipbuilders, and shoemakers. In deference to his skill and accomplishments, the wealthiest artisan in each craft led that trade in the procession.

Although status and wealth do not necessarily go hand in hand, and some craftsmen ran lucrative shops, the hierarchy established for the procession does give some idea of social ranking according to occupation. It matches up relatively well with Allan Kulikoff’s analysis of wealth in colonial Boston, which reveals a wide disparity of income within the population. At the high end of Kulikoff’s scale were merchants, with mean assessments of £1,707; lawyers, with £846; and apothecaries, with £657. Artisans had a mean assessment of wealth in 1790 that ranged from a high of £347 for a chandler to £45 for a caulker. Within that range, one finds goldsmiths assessed at £166, printers at £247, hatters at £233, and cabinetmakers at £131.22

The 361 individuals who transacted silver-related business in Revere’s shop can be divided into a slightly unequal balance of artisan (53 per cent) and educated merchant and professional patrons (46 per cent). The tradesmen appear in proportion to their general numbers—about half of Boston’s population in 1790. They were the primary consumers of the innumerable spoons and buckles that Revere sold. They also purchased many ritual goods for Masonic lodges, the odd piece of hollowware, and requested the occasional repair. Merchants and professionals figured in Revere’s customer profile at almost double their percentage of the town’s population. While they were an important source of orders for hollowware for Revere, they used the silversmith almost as frequently for repairs.23

Two men, Andrew Oliver (1731–1799) and Thomas Dennie (1756–1842), exemplify the upper echelon of Revere’s patrons. A native of Salem, Massachusetts, and the son of the lieutenant governor, Andrew Oliver graduated from Harvard College in 1749. He later served as a judge to the court of common pleas and was one of the founders of the American Philosophical Society. He was also the only Loyalist in his family to remain in Massachusetts for the duration of the Revolutionary War. In 1764, his purchase from Revere of an exotic “sugar dish out of an Ostrich egg” was unheard of in the colonies. But he never repeated such a memorable request. In later years, Oliver brought porringers, teapots, and tankards to Revere for repair, perhaps choosing, like other members of this class, to purchase his silver from abroad.24 On a different economic scale from Oliver but distinctly well-to-do was Boston wine merchant Thomas Dennie, who sat for a Gilbert Smart portrait in 1818.25 In 1783, Dennie ordered a pair of wine canns from Revere; nine years later he requested twelve engraved teaspoons and eight engraved tablespoons. His purchases are fairly typical for his class in that they were made on an infrequent basis and came in sets.

Shipping merchant Joseph Barrell (1740–1804), whose portrait was painted by John Singleton Copley in 1768, also shows up in Revere’s daybooks. According to the inventory of his estate, Barrell owned an impressive collection of mostly imported silver including candlesticks, sconces, caster stands, and waiters that were of fused plate and wrought silver. Nonetheless, aside from numerous repairs, the daybooks do not record any silver made for Barrell by Revere except for a silver letter “B” fashioned in 1796 for the back of his “chaise.” Nor does the evidence suggest that any other colonial silversmith made silver for the merchant.26

Fig. 4. Design attributed to Joseph Barrell (1740–1804), dies attributed to Joseph Callendar (1751–1821), Columbia-Washington medal, Boston, Massachusetts, 1787. Copper; diam. 1⅝ in. Massachusetts Historical Society, Gift of Joseph Barrell, on behalf of the merchants involved in the venture [Samuel Brown, Charles Bulfinch, John Derby, Crowell Hatch, and John Marsden Pintard], 1791.

One unusual, albeit minor, request did come to Revere from Barrell. As one of the investors in the ship Columbia Rediviva and the sloop Lady Washington, the vessels that initiated the profitable Boston-Northwest Coast-Canton trade in 1787, Barrell employed Joseph Callendar, Revere’s former apprentice, to cut the dies for a coin to commemorate “the first American Adventure on the Pacific Ocean.” When difficulties arose, Barrell advised one of the recipients to “let a Silver smith file and polish the edges of your copper Medal and have it properly cleaned” (fig. 4).27 Barrell apparently followed his own advice, for Revere’s daybook records that the merchant paid five shillings for repairing the edges often copper medals and fifteen shillings for making six silver blanks.

In contrast to a merchant of Barrell’s stature, shopkeepers of modest means constitute at least one quarter of the 120 merchants who patronized Revere, although the jobs they brought him were invariably of a more modest nature. Joshua Blanchard, who ran a wine and grocery store, bought a pair of double chapes; John Simkins, who sold upholstery and general goods, brought a pair of shoe buckles for mending. Revere charged shopkeeper Samuel Hewes in 1771 for a copper plate and two hundred prints advertising “sper’ceti Cans” (spermaceti candles) for sale. A year later, Revere “set a stone pockett,” probably shorthand in the daybook for pocket buttons, set with glass, agate, or quartz, also known as “paste.” No other purchases show up for these men, indicating that their income allowed for only basic repairs and business-related purchases. Nonetheless, the numbers of such small shopkeepers grew as the century progressed, making even their minor orders a significant portion of Revere’s business.28

Fellow tradesmen, again ranging in means from relatively well-to-do to middling, constituted a similarly vital part of Revere’s business. Some of these patrons knew Revere largely through professional associations, especially the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics Association (discussed below), but some must have known the silversmith from his general reputation. Among his patrons in this sector Revere included many who were men of some wealth and well regarded by the general public. For instance, the hatter Nathaniel Balch ran a popular establishment that was frequented by many, including Governor John Hancock. Balch, whose property was assessed at £925 in 1790, led the hatters in the Washington Procession. Despite his prosperity, Balch ordered only six silver hooks and eyes and four pairs of stone sleeve buttons, as described above, from Revere.29 Abraham Adams, a prosperous Newbury Street leather dresser and breeches maker, ordered hat bills—probably printed labels to be set into the brim—and a silver teakettle stand, a rare form in colonial silver and one which presumes ownership of a teakettle.30 The Boston wigmaker and barber Daniel Crosby purchased a pair of stone sleeve buttons and a neck buckle.31 Revere also did many jobs for tradesmen of lesser wealth, such as pewterer Thomas Badger of Prince Street (six silver teaspoons)32 and sailmaker Joseph Barrett, for whom he made shoe buckles and mending sundry items, including two gold buttons.33

The elite group of artisans who were the core members of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics Association (MCMA) constituted a leading segment of the middling class, although they did not command incomes equal to those of lawyers and merchants. When these successful tradesmen and entrepreneurs formed the Association in 1795 for the support of tradesmen’s activities, they elected Revere, perhaps the most notable and respected artisan in town, as the Association’s first president. Membership was restricted from its earliest days to master craftsmen or shop proprietors, many of whom were also Freemasons; journeymen and apprentices were excluded. High for its day, the one-time sign-up fee of one dollar and quarterly dues of twenty-five cents selected out many with slender incomes. As a result, only about 11 percent, or 146 of the 1,259 master craftsmen known from the 1790 tax list, became MCMA members. More than 80 percent of this group were found to possess over $500 in taxable property, more than twice as much as non-members. Revere, with his holdings by this date diversified among a silversmith’s shop, a hardware store, and a foundry, exemplified the MCMA artisan.34

As president of the association, Revere naturally counted fellow MCMA officers among his customers. Among them was the bricklayer Jonathan Hunnewell, who became the association’s second president in 1800. One year after the MCMA’s formation, Hunnewell ordered a silver service consisting of twelve teaspoons, one pair of sugar tongs, a teapot and stand, sugar basket, and four salt “shovels,” the hollowware executed in the newly fashionable fluted neoclassical style.35 The baker and hardware merchant Edward Tuckerman, who served as vice president of the MCMA under Revere, developed a profitable business in the North End and amassed considerable wealth. The family’s rise in class status was assured in 1797 when his daughter Elizabeth married into the prosperous Worcester merchant family of Stephen Salisbury I. Revere made a tankard, a teapot, and a coffeepot for Tuckerman in the decade before the MCMA was founded. Years later, Tuckerman ordered a fluted sugar basket that was not recorded in Revere’s daybook, probably for his son Edward’s marriage in 1798 to Hannah Parkman.36

In addition to the silver that Revere made for MCMA officials Hunnewell and Tuckerman, he produced items for members in the rank and file. These smaller tradesmen used the silversmith for their business needs, sometimes adding a small personal or household purchase. For instance, hatter Samuel Barry purchased four spoons with engraved cyphers along with 310 “hatt bills,” while ivory turner and musical instrument maker William Callender bought an engraved advertisement and a silver stock buckle. The painter Christopher Gore used Revere for a variety of needs, from “mending sundry” to making a nineteen-ounce silver “crane,” “plating three Iron Electrical points,” and fashioning a silver nutmeg grater.37 Others simply ordered goods for themselves. Cooper Thomas Emmons ordered a pair of “stone buttons” and arranged for Revere to mend other buttons and a pair of silver knee buckles. Blacksmith Samuel Dow ordered numerous shoe buckles, small and large, silver and plated, along with a child’s shoe clasp and spoon.38

The volume of general business from MCMA and other tradesmen was critical to the success of Revere’s workshop, even more so than the hollowware purchases of the wealthier tradesmen. Collectively speaking, the smaller items were an incremental and essential source of income on which Revere depended for his livelihood.

The Ties That Bind: Revere’s Family, Friends, Neighbors, and Church

When young Paul Revere first set out to establish himself in his trade he did not yet have the reputation or professional ties to bring in a broad base of customers; his primary market came then from among the close circles of his family and friends. After the death in 1754 of his father, Revere garnered some orders from those who had previously patronized the elder Revere. The young man then looked to those constituencies closest to home: family and friends living nearby in the North End, the congregation of his church, and later members of the Masonic brotherhood to which he belonged and acquaintances from political alliances. Like pebbles tossed into a lake, these groups formed circles that rippled, fanned outward, and overlapped in ever-widening patterns.

A small group of customers of Paul Revere, Sr., provided the young Revere with some income beginning in the decade after his father’s early death in 1754. For Thomas James Grouchy and Mary Dumaresq, for whom Revere, Sr., had made a chafing dish about the time of their 1741 wedding, Revere, Jr., made a sugar dish in 1756. Tristram Dalton purchased a pair of porringers from the elder silversmith around 1750 and a decade later returned to the son for an additional pair, plus gravy spoons and butter ladles. The Salem apothecary Phillip Godfrey Kast bought a porringer from Revere, Sr., around 1750, and shortly thereafter became a devoted patron of Revere, Jr., with numerous purchases of shoe buckles, porringers, creampots, gold rings, spoons, and spatulae, in a customer relationship that lasted from 1755 until the 1780s.39

Shortly before his death, Paul Revere, Sr., made a creampot for his sister-in-law Mary Hichborn, the youngest sibling in the family of his wife, Deborah. Like his father, the young Revere also made silver for his extended family and received a fair amount of business from the Hichborns. Revere was close to his uncle, the boatbuilder Thomas Hichborn, Sr., whose sons Thomas, Jr., and Nathaniel followed in the same trade. Thomas, Sr., in particular purchased many small items, such as a pair of salts and six teaspoons, and brought in many items for mending, including brass snuffers and a pair of earrings. Other Hichborn relatives included William, a hatter, who purchased hundreds of hat bills from Revere, and Robert, a sailmaker, who bought knee buckles. All used Revere for modest purchases in the early 1760s, when the young silversmith was still starting out. In later years, as the family prospered, some ordered more expensive items. Thomas Revere, Jr., purchased a cylindrical teapot in 1782. Benjamin, the youngest and only son to pursue higher education, became a lawyer and patronized his cousin beginning in the 1780s with orders for teaspoons, hardware, and a quantity of mending, thus following the usual pattern of wealthier men who purchased their silver primarily from abroad.40

TABLE 2. Paul Revere’s Customers: Church, Masonic, and Political Membership Patterns.

Sources: Ledger, New Brick Church, Massachusetts Historical Society (church); Edith J. Steblecki, Paul Revere and Freemasonry (Boston: Paul Revere Memorial Association, 1985), appendices 1 and 5; Henry J. Parker Index, Massachusetts Masonic Lodge (Masonic); David Hackett Fischer, Paul Revere’s Ride (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), appendix D; Palfrey manuscripts, Massachusetts Historical Society (political).

For much of his life, Revere attended New Brick Church on Middle Street (now Hanover Street) in the North End, just a few steps away from his childhood home at the corner of Love Lane (now Tileston Street) and Middle Street. From 1787 to 1803, he belonged to the senior church committee, a measure of his prominence by that date among the congregation. Although Revere did not make silver for the church, he did find patrons among the forty-eight members who served on the New Brick Church’s committee from 1755 to 1803. Fourteen of them, or 29 percent, employed Revere’s services.41 Although the majority of this patronage occurred during the 1790s, after his appointment to the committee, some transactions took place earlier, while Revere was an ordinary communicant of no particular rank (table 2).

Fig. 5. Paul Revere (1734–1818), urn, Boston, Massachusetts, 1800. Silver with ivory spigot handle; h. 19 in. Massachusetts Historical Society, Gift of Helen Ford Bradford and Sarah Bradford Ross, 1933, on loan to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Photo, courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Of all the orders filled by Revere for New Brick Church patrons, the most notable came from “merchant prince” Samuel Parkman, who served on the senior committee with Revere. In 1800 Parkman commissioned a presentation urn for Gamaliel Bradford, captain of the vessel Industry and victor in a battle with French privateers near the Straits of Gibraltar (fig. 5). Aside from the urn, Parkman purchased very little from Revere beyond ladles, two dozen spoons, a larding pin, and a pair of spectacles. He used the silversmith extensively, however, for mending his mostly imported goods, which included plated candlesticks, a tea urn (twice), a cruet (twice), and a fan, among other sundry items.42

Among the tradesmen at New Brick Church, the hatter William Williams ordered more than 8,500 hat bills from Revere between 1792 and 1797. Revere fashioned a teapot and knee and shoe buckles for blockmaker Thomas Lewis. For the blacksmith Enoch James, who was an active member of the church committee from 1792 to 1802, he made silver buttons, several pairs of plated knee and shoe buckles, and six teaspoons between 1789 and 1793, and did repair work including “boil[ing] and burnish[ing]” a cann in James’ possession. Dr. Isaac Rand, a British sympathiser during the war and a member of the committee in 1802 and 1803, ordered a number of small items for daily use from Revere after the Revolution.43

Neighbors in the North End who had business dealings with Revere included such childhood friends as Josiah Flagg, Jr., who had rung bells with him at Christ Church. Flagg, a jeweller and musician, published music with engravings by Revere.44 The hatmaker Ezra Collins (also Collings), who was a Clark’s Wharf neighbor, ordered about four hundred hat bills and an engraved dog collar. This kind of patronage went both ways. Revere employed the services of the local instrument maker, ivory turner, and dentist Isaac Greenwood, who also lived on Clark’s Wharf. Revere went to Greenwood for turtle shell buttons and for handles and knobs for teapots; Greenwood also turned some of Revere’s vessels on the lathe, presumably to true them to proper form. In return for the favor of his business, Greenwood engaged Revere to engrave cane heads and a trade card.45

Some of these North End men, such as the ironware merchant Joseph Webb, who ordered trade cards from Revere, were also active Freemasons and patriots. Webb was Master of St. Andrew’s Masonic Lodge and a leader, along with Revere and Joseph Warren, in the colonial resistance. Friends Josiah Flagg, shipwright Gibbens Sharp, and innholder Joshua Brackett took part in Revolutionary activities.46 These kinds of overlapping social and political affiliations, ultimately much broader than the narrow world of the North End, gave Revere the opportunity to participate in some of the most exciting events of his time, even as he enlarged his clientele.

Political Affiliation: Freemasons, Patriots, and Loyalists

Revere’s long affiliation with the fraternal organization known as Freemasons, generally known as Masons, lasted for almost fifty years, beginning in 1760 with his acceptance at age twenty-five into St. Andrew’s Lodge in the North End.47 The organization that Revere joined—a popular, respectable club that sponsored benevolent activities and general cameraderie—had developed from a secret, mystical, and ritualistic organization begun by fourteenth-century stonemasons. By Revere’s day, Masonic lodges attracted men from all walks of life and in the colonies included such celebrated members as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin.

His particular lodge would have put Revere right at the center of the many communities that converged at St. Andrew’s. Its North End address intensified the connections he already had with family and neighbors there. Many of the lodge’s artisanal and seafaring members hailed from the North End, as did his cousins Nathaniel and Robert Hichborn. Meetings took place on Union Street at the Green Dragon Tavern, which the lodge purchased in 1764.48 As Revere became more involved as a Masonic leader over the years—in 1795 he was appointed Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts—his visibility increased on Union Street and farther abroad.49

As a society intended for social enlightenment, Masonic lodges during the eighteenth century included men from a wide spectrum of society, from tradesmen to college-educated professionals. Although the total numbers of fraternal membership are imperfectly known, 118 of 186 men, or 64 percent of the masons in St. Andrew’s Lodge alone, were his customers. Revere counted Masons among a third of his entire clientele, who were spread among at least ten different lodges. Many of these men did purchase Masonic ritual items from Revere on behalf of their lodges. Jewels such as the crossed keys and crossed pens (worn to identify officers in the society), Masonic certificates, and silver punch ladles, the latter for refreshments, were typical orders. The greater percentage of Revere’s Masonic clientele, however, contracted for personal goods that ranged from tea sets and spoons to simple mending. Most Masons who patronized Revere did so for their domestic needs, ordering hollowware and flatware, shoe buckles, buttons, and practical goods such as carriage harnesses. Their numeric strength illustrates the powerful network of patronage that existed within this philanthropic brotherhood.50

Many of the members of St. Andrew’s Lodge who sought out Revere for their silver needs were fellow tradesmen, as well as fellow Masons and regulars at the Green Dragon Tavern. The purchases of these tradesmen were fairly standard for their class: in 1766 bookbinder and stationer William McAlpine, who was later banished to Halifax, called upon Revere for a silver snuffbox; chocolate and mustard-grinder Edward Rumney paid for a silver creampot in 1787, the same year that plumber and glazier Norton Brailsford purchased six large spoons; and cabinetmaker Simon Hall from Battery March Street engaged Revere to mend shoe buckles, a pendulum, and one gold button.51

Two professional men, Nathaniel Tracy, Esq., and Dr. John Warren, typified those fellow Masons who procured silver for their lodges along with first-rate goods for themselves. In 1782, Revere produced a full set of silver Masonic jewels for Tracy’s Newburyport lodge and, as part of the same order, fashioned six gilded goblets for Tracy’s home. The monogram “NMT” engraved on the goblets signifies Tracy and his wife, Mary Lee, daughter of the Whig merchant and shipowner Jeremiah Lee.52 Warren, who was the Surgeon General of the Continental Army, made excellent use of Revere’s skills by ordering a wide range of specialized goods for his personal, professional, and social needs. John Warren’s brother Joseph, also a doctor and a Revolutionary leader, worked closely with Revere before he died in the Battle of Bunker Hill. John Warren’s business relationship with Revere appears to have begun in 1783 with his purchase of a “collar for a Mason’s jewel” and the mending of a tankard and a pair of canns. For his work, Warren ordered certificates for graduates of his anatomy course (fig. 6). For his home, Warren purchased a “sugar dish,” a teapot, and a coffeepot.53

Fig. 6. Paul Revere (1734–1818), certificate of attendance at anatomical lecture, American Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, ca. 1780. Massachusetts Historical Society, Warren Papers.

Moses Michael Hays, one of Boston’s few Jewish citizens, was a prominent Mason and one of Revere’s more unlikely customers. For Hays’s business, Revere had to compete with colonial Jewish silversmith Myer Myers, whose relationship with Hays was familial, Masonic, and religious. Before moving to Massachusetts Hays had lived in New York City, where he had served as Master at King David’s Masonic Lodge, also the lodge of silversmith and senior warden Myers. In 1766 Hays married the craftsman’s sister Rachel, and the newly-weds moved first to Newport, where there was a small Jewish community, and later to Boston, where Hays operated a brokerage and insurance office. Hays became Grand Master of the Massachusetts Grand Lodge in 1788, and again in 1791, with Revere as his Deputy Grand Master.54

Fig. 7. Paul Revere (1734–1818), pair of sauceboats, Boston, Massachusetts, ca. 1770–85. Silver; h. (each) 5716 in., w. 8116 in., d. 4⅜ in. Wunsch Americana Foundation, on loan to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Photo, courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Although Myers’s shop had not recovered from the Revolution and he lived at a distance from the Hayses, it is still remarkable that the couple patronized Revere instead of a close family member. It may have been their joint involvement in Boston Freemasonry that tipped the scales in Revere’s favor, bringing him Hays’s quite significant business. Between 1783 and 1792 Hays ordered a “medal,” probably Masonic, along with several teapots with stands, creampots, a variety of spoons and ladles, a sugar basket, gold knee buckles, a sword hilt, four goblets, and a pair of sauceboats (fig. 7).55 David Barquist has observed that the small body of Judaica made in the colonies is based upon East European and Near Eastern style sources, while the secular forms that were purchased by colonial Jews are indistinguishable from the vast number of objects owned by gentiles of the same period.56 In choosing to buy silver from Revere, Hays acquired Boston-made objects that would have complemented his other furnishings. At the same time, these purchases cemented a valuable social and business contact in Hays’s adopted city.

While other members of St. Andrew’s clearly dominate Revere’s patrons within this particular circle, the web of relationships created by the Masonic order brought customers throughout New England to Revere, and prompted commissions from lodges as far away as Surinam.57 As mentioned above, one-third of Revere’s total clientele belonged to one or another Masonic lodge, a percentage higher than any other in the circles of his clientele.

Although the Freemasons were not specifically political, Revere’s connections from that organization inevitably overlapped with the connections he developed as his political activities increased. Unlike most silversmiths of his day, Revere fully participated in the partisan activities that swirled around Boston before and during the Revolution.58 While serving his primary goal of aiding the patriot cause, political contacts undoubtedly brought additional revenue to his workshop. The patronage he received from political compatriots did not exceed the standard 20 percent he carved out of other social connections, but it was nonetheless an additional sector added to his clientele. Membership in New Brick Church and St. Andrew’s Lodge made him familiar to a portion of the general population. Growing involvement with rebel groups both large and small may have added to his prominence and provided a competitive edge over his competitors.

Revere’s customers came to him from nearly all of the revolutionary organizations in Boston, even those to which he did not belong, such as the Boston Committees of Correspondence, an elite body formed in 1772 by Samuel Adams, and the Loyal Nine, the Boston artisans and shopkeepers who formed the Sons of Liberty. The Committees directed local resistance in concert with about eighty similar groups located throughout Massachusetts and as far away as Virginia. A significant overlap in membership did nonetheless affiliate Revere closely with the members of those organizations. The Boston Committees of Correspondence, for example, shared its ranks with the Long Room Club, organized in 1773, to which Revere did belong. Both groups were comprised largely of Harvard-educated lawyers, doctors, ministers, and merchants drawn from the professional ranks. Joint members such as John Adams, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Joseph Warren, James Otis, and Thomas Dawes formed the strategic core of the rebellion.59

Altogether, some 474 men have been identified as members of revolutionary groups as charted in this essay, of which 122, or 22 percent, eventually became his customers.60 Proof of Revere’s standing in these organizations can be discerned in the London Enemies List of fifty-nine men who were considered a danger to the Crown. Of these most rebellious and powerful antagonists to England, 14 men, or 24 percent of them, were patrons of Revere.

The extent of Revere’s political activities and connections was ultimately very widespread. He naturally belonged to the North End Caucus (also called North Caucus), among the best organized revolutionary groups in Boston; its membership, composed of artisans, congregated at the Salutation Tavern. The large revolutionary membership of St. Andrew’s Masonic Lodge convened at the Green Dragon Tavern. Cromwell’s Head Tavern, run by Revere’s friend Joshua Brackett, and the Bunch of Grapes Tavern were two additional watering holes frequented by Revere and receptive to colonial plans for resistance. The Long Room Club assembled in rooms over the Boston Gazette press operated by fellow sympathizers Benjamin Edes and John Gill.

The most prominent group in which Revere participated was probably the Sons of Liberty, formed in 1765 by the Loyal Nine, a small enclave of Boston artisans and shopkeepers opposed to the hated Stamp Act. He was among the 300 men, called the Sons of Liberty, who congregated at Dorchester’s famous Liberty Tree in 1769, and in 1773, he joined with the 112 rebels, dressed in Indian garb, who have been identified as having participated in the Tea Party.61

As with his other networks, Revere’s political involvements brought him a range of work and patrons. Revere’s satirical engravings from this period are well known, but his political hollowware offers his most serious statement on the estranged relationship between the colonies and the Crown. The Sons of Liberty bowl, made in 1768, was fashioned as an act of defiance on behalf of the “glorious” ninety-two Massachusetts representatives who refused to retract [“rescind”] their denunciation of the Townshend Acts, as written in the Massachusetts Circular Letter sent that year to George III. Made at the request of fifteen patrons, whose names encircle the vessel, Revere placed his maker’s mark squarely at the center of the bowl for all to see, a seditious act that would have cost him dearly had it been found.62

Well-to-do clients drawn from these political groups included the lawyer Perez Morton, a member of the North Caucus group and attorney-general of Massachusetts from 1811–1832. Morton married the poet Sarah Wentworth Apthorp, whose social status and fortune came from two major mercantile families of Boston. Morton must have entertained lavishly, for his name appeared in Revere’s ledger numerous times from the time of his 1781 marriage until 1797.

During these years, Morton purchased a nearly complete tea equipage from Revere that included two pairs of sugar tongs, one creampot, twelve teaspoons, and a slop bowl. Morton perhaps did not order a teapot or coffeepot because he owned imported ones or possibly because Sarah, the daughter of merchant Charles Apthorp, would have brought these goods into the marriage as part of her dowry. Revere made a frame for casters, table and salt spoons, pairs of mugs and porringers, including one “large out of size” porringer, and a bookplate, for which he produced a hundred impressions. He also enhanced or repaired a number of English or foreign-made goods. Among these are the thirty-six crests that Revere engraved on spoons, the silver caps and ferrils that he added to twenty-five knives and forks, and the silver candlestick that he mended on at least two occasions.63

The variety of objects and amount of mending that Morton requested of Revere typifies the silversmith’s transactions with other high-ranking members of these political groups. During the 1760s, Revere made a pair of canns and a tankard for John Avery of the Loyal Nine; a teapot for shipwright Gibbens Sharp of the North Caucus; and wine cups for Moses Gill of the London Enemies, plus a wide assortment of buckles, spoons, tongs, and “sundry” mending for all.64

Revere’s involvement with the North End Caucus group probably introduced him to Scottish-born Colonel James Swan, who in 1775 fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill. A Boston merchant, Swan moved to Paris in 1787, where he flourished as an importer during the French Revolution and as an exporter of furniture that had been stripped from the fallen nobility. In the early 1780s, before his move to Paris, Swan purchased a ladle, a large group of engraved spoons, a pair of buckles, and a “cream jug” from Revere. He also paid the craftsman for many small tasks, such as cleaning and burnishing his many salts and mending rings, a punch strainer, and sugar tongs. The absence of any significant hollowware suggests that Swan probably acquired his silver from abroad.65

Wealthy men like Morton and Swan were two of more than one hundred other political activists who patronized Revere, hailing from all walks of life. Merchants, auctioneers, attorneys, distillers, housewrights, sailmakers, coopers, doctors, and printers were among these men. Jabez Hatch, wharfinger, purchased a pair of shoe buckles; pilot Thomas Knox bought six teaspoons along with silver and plated shoe buckles for his son Robert; scrivener Elias Parkman bought a cann; and the hatter William Boardman ordered over 2,500 hat bills.66

Yet Revere’s visibility as a political activist and silversmith, as made manifest in the Sons of Liberty Bowl, did not necessarily create a landslide of patronage. For instance, 9 of the 15 men whose names appear around the bowl bought no other silver from him, although it is likely that they contributed toward the cost of this important symbol of resistance. And 76 men, or 22 percent of the 339 Sons of Liberty used Revere for major and minor silversmithing needs. This 20-odd percentage is rather constant among Revere’s various constituencies. It suggests that, while few populations embraced Revere overwhelmingly as their silversmith of choice, affiliations with many groups added up to a lot of business.67

Of course, one could easily assume that among British sympathizers, Revere would have lost rather than gained or maintained clientele. Disaffection with English policies began with the Stamp Act of 1765, but nearly all colonists considered themselves British subjects who were loyal to the Crown until 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was signed. Yet as differences grew among colonists, cordial business relations prevailed. The painter and English sympathizer John Singleton Copley, for example, accepted sitters on both sides of the political fence and treated all with respect. British commander Thomas Gage sat for Copley in 1768, the same year that Revere sat for his portrait; the year was a politically charged one, during which Boston was occupied by British troops.68

Like Copley, Revere could not allow politics to get in the way of his livelihood. It is doubtful that he would have had few, if any, reservations accepting commissions from royal appointees or British sympathizers. In September 1773, two months before the Boston Tea Party, Revere executed the largest commission of his career for Dr. William Paine of Worcester, who served as apothecary and physician with the British forces in America during the Revolutionary War and in 1778 was banished to Halifax. Revere produced a forty-five-piece service on the occasion of Paine’s marriage to his distant relation Lois Orne, of Salem. The set included a coffeepot, teapot, tankard, two canns, two porringers, and one creamer, along with a box, presumably made to hold the silver (fig. 8).69 Revere received £34 for his labor above the cost of materials, a considerable sum even for a service of this size.

As political tensions grew, Revere continued to make silver for acquaintances whose allegiance shifted to England. For instance, Dr. Samuel Danforth, Revere’s family physician, enjoyed a reciprocal business relationship with the silversmith. Despite his Tory leanings, Danforth purchased a variety of goods from Revere before and after the Revolutionary War, while Revere engaged the doctor for his family’s needs during this same period. Danforth, who graduated from Harvard in 1758, purchased domestic forms from Revere such as a silver “vissel,” shoe buckles, salt spoons, a coffee urn, and a teapot. He also purchased numerous harness goods such as “pads and Winkers,” and used him for mending stone buttons and his “Lancett case.”70

Born in modest circumstances, Revere had an ordinary start in life. As a well-trained craftsman with close ties to his family and larger community, he probably was no different from most of his fellow silversmiths or other tradesmen. However, the combination of his remarkable skills as a talented silversmith, enterprising businessman, and political operative made him uniquely prepared for the extraordinary times in which he lived. Revere lived a full life. Through his innumerable, documented contacts with customers, and his energetic embrace of social groups and revolutionary causes, he stood at the crossroads of pre- and post-Revolutionary Boston life and provided historians with a rich body of material with which to examine the colonial world.

Revere made countless pedestrian items such as spoons and shoe buckles that gave a small measure of dignity to the middling class, and surpassed his peers in fabricating many examples of fine hollowware for well-to-do customers who were educated professionals or successful tradesmen like himself. Economic considerations aside, Revere’s patrons can be identified according to the social relations they shared with the silversmith. Thus, the silversmith’s membership in the Masonic brotherhood, his patriotic alliances, family, friends, and church relations, all had some bearing on the relative size of his customer base. Further research may define these overlapping groups with ever-greater precision and meaning, and lead us toward a better grasp of consumption in eighteenth-century American life.

Fig. 8. Paul Revere (1734–1818), Paine service, Boston, Massachusetts, 1773. Silver; h. (coffeepot) 13½ in., h. (teapot) 6⅝ in.; h. (tankard) 9516 in. Worcester Museum of Art, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. George C. Lincoln in memory of Fanny Chandler Lincoln and Gift of Richard K. Thorndike (1937–55–58; 1959.105, 1963.338a-f, 1965.336, 1967.57).


Thanks to Regina Lee Blaszczyk, Jonathan Fairbanks, Patrick Leehey, Gloria Main, Michael J. Prokopow, Edith Steblecki, and Gerry Ward for reading portions of this manuscript in its early stages. Grateful thanks go to Jayne Triber for sharing her notes, to Anne E. Rogers for graciously sharing her unpublished research on the Boston Taking Books, and to Seth Vose III for providing Thwing Project data. Tara McNeil, Abby Dorman, and Myriam Gorsky assisted with Masonic and Thwing research. Nancy Wilson provided genealogical assistance.

1 Samuel Adams, cited in Alan Kulikoff, “The Progress of Inequality in Revolutionary Boston,” William and Mary Quarterly, 3d ser., 28, no. 3 (July 1971): 375.

2 Carl F. Bridenbaugh, ed., Gentleman’s Progress: The Itinerarium of Dr. Alexander Hamilton, 1744 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1948), 13.

3 There is a wealth of recent literature that addresses consumer behavior patterns in the eighteenth century. Carole Shammas, “Consumer Behavior in Colonial America,” Social Science History 6, no. 1 (Winter 1982): 67–87; Carole Shammas, The Pre-industrial Consumer in England and America (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990); Ann Smart Martin, “Makers, Buyers, and Users, Consumerism as a Material Culture Framework,” Winterthur Portfolio 28, no. 2/3 (Summer / Autumn 1993): 141–57; Joyce Appleby, “Consumption in Early Modern Social Thought,” in Consumption and the World of Goods, ed. John Brewer and Roy Porter (London: Routledge, 1993), 162–73; Carole Shammas, “Changes in English and Anglo-American Consumption from 1550 to 1800,” in Consumption and the World of Goods, 177–205; Lorna Weatherill, “The Meaning of Consumer Behaviour in Late Seventeenth- and Early Eighteenth-Century England,” in Consumption and the World of Goods, 206–27; City Carson, Ronald Hoffman, and Peter J. Albert, eds., Of Consuming Interests: The Style of Life in the Eighteenth Century (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1994).

4 Although Daniel Horowitz addresses nineteenth- and twentieth-century consumption, I have quoted from his introduction which places this discussion in a general context. Daniel Horowitz, The Morality of Spending: Attitudes toward the Consumer Society in America, 1875–1940 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985), xxiv.

5 Gloria L. Main, “The Distribution of Consumer Goods in Colonial New England: A Sub-regional Approach,” in Early American Probate Inventories, ed. Peter Benes (Boston: Boston University, 1987), 153–68; Gloria L. Main, “The Standards of Living in Southern New England, 1640–1773,” William and Mary Quarterly, 3d ser., 45, no. 1 (January 1988): 128. According to Main, “Of major significance is the fact that people of the middling rank everywhere in the sample began acquiring some, but not all, available new goods in a deliberate, selective fashion.” See Table VII for a review of many luxury goods, including looking glasses, clocks, wigs, books, and silver in southern New England probate records from 1640 to 1764.

6 For modern scholarship on Revere’s silversmithing career, see Paul Revere—Artisan, Businessman, and Patriot, the Man Behind the Myth (Boston: Paul Revere Memorial Association, 1988); Deborah Federhen, “Paul Revere, Silversmith: A Study of His Shop Operations and His Objects” (MA. diesis, University of Delaware, 1988); Deborah Federhen, “Paul Revere, Jr. (1734–1818),” in Colonial Massachusetts Silversmiths and Jewelers: A Biographical Dictionary, ed. Patricia E. Kane (New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 1998), 795–848; Jayne E. Triber, A True Republican: The Life of Paul Revere (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1998). For an analogous look at the production of another enterprising New England silversmith, see Gerald W. R. Ward, “Jabez Baldwin, Silversmith-Entrepreneur of Salem, Massachusetts, 1802–1819” Winterthur Portfolio 23, no. 1 (Spring 1988): 54. For silver consumption in a particular region, see Gerald W. R. Ward, “The Democratization of Precious Metal: A Note on the Ownership of Silver in Salem, 1630–1820,” Essex Institute Historical Collections 126, no. 3 (July 1990): 171–200.

7 Paul Revere, daybooks, vols. 1–2, Revere Family Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society (cited hereafter as Daybooks). The 588 patrons and their purchases recorded in the daybooks, henceforth called the Buhler Index, are drawn from the notes of Kathryn C. Buhler, whose career at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, spanned five decades. Departmental Files, Art of the Americas, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The daybook of Zachariah Brigden offers a more limited view of one shop, its practices, and clientele. Brigden Papers, Beinecke Rare Book Library, Yale University. For an interpretation of the Brigden papers, see Hilary Anderson, “Earning a Living in Eighteenth-Century Boston: Silversmith Zachariah Brigden” (MA. thesis, University of Delaware, 1996).

8 Additional information on patrons not recorded in the daybook is largely taken from Kane, Colonial Massachusetts Silversmiths, 806–45. Omitted from this list are the names of individuals who conducted non-silver transactions with Revere, and organizations such as churches and lodges, who usually ordered silver through their membership. Many duplicate names have been deleted as well.

9 Since it would be unfair to use the daybook records in a comparison of Revere’s business with that of his contemporaries, the field has been leveled by relying exclusively on Kane, Colonial Massachusetts Silversmiths, 210–17; 228–44; 298–305; 539–43; 689–98; 806–45. This volume provides a comprehensive list of silver that has been published in American scholarly publications, auction catalogues, and advertisements. As such, it is the best resource available on silver that was made by Massachusetts silversmiths working before the Revolution.

10 The rather depressed figures for items made by these craftsmen may change in the future as additional silver comes to light. Despite Revere’s admittedly large production numbers, figures may be slightly skewed in his favor due to the excessive popularity of the patriot’s work among collectors in this century.

11 This analysis of Revere’s production comes from Federhen, “Paul Revere, Silversmith,” 80–92, tables A–E. These figures exclude engraving, printing, repairing, making tools, or the practice of dentistry.

12 Revere opened a hardware store “opposite where the Liberty Tree stood” as early as 1783, where he sold a variety of items, including shoe buckles. For the purposes of this essay, all small-work recorded in the daybooks is treated as a product of the Revere shop, regardless of their place of manufacture, in order to ascertain the breadth of his customer base.

13 Portable luxuries such as silver were frequently passed on by their owners to children or others during their own lifetime. However, probate records suggest that many retained silver until death. For a sampling, see Abbott Lowell Cummings, ed., Rural Household Inventories: Establishing the Names, Uses and Furnishings of Rooms in the Colonial New England Home, 1675–1775 (Boston: Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, 1964), passim; Alice Hanson Jones, American Colonial Wealth, Documents and Methods, vol. 2 (New York: Arno Press, 1977). As minor as they are, small luxury goods such as spoons are important indicators of a rising level of domesticity in eighteenth-century America that has parallels in England and Scotland. For an analysis of the parallel developments of English colonies, see John Clive and Bernard Bailyn, “England’s Cultural Provinces: Scotland and America,” William and Man Quarterly, 3d ser., 2, no. 2 (April 1954): 200–213; and Shammas, “Changes in English and Anglo-American Consumption.”

14 Information about hollowware made between 1777 and 1783 has been drawn from Revere’s daybooks and from Kane, Colonial Massachusetts Silversmiths, 806–45.

15 By this date, Henchman had already died. Minott, who had sympathized with the British during the Revolution, made no teapots and never did regain his pre-war level of productivity.

16 Revere’s customers for this item ranged from fellow Mason Moses Michael Hays (1783), relatives Stephen and Isannah Bruce (1782), and New Brick Church congregant Caleb Champney (1782–85), to Robert and Mary (Ingalls) Hooper (1790), whose family was allied with the British (Daybooks 1:16, 23, 49, 50–51). Virginia Hewett Watterson, Descendants of the Elder Richard Champney of Cambridge, Massachusetts (Carlsbad, Calif.: privately printed, 1989), 45.

17 For an in-depth discussion of fluted teapots by Revere, and others made in smaller numbers by Benjamin Burr, and possibly by Joseph Loring, see Janine Skerry, “The Revolutionary Revere, A Critical Assessment of the Silver of Paul Revere,” in Paul Revere—Artisan, Businessman, and Patriot, 53–55.

18 Daybooks 2:119–21 (Templeman), 134 (Carnes), 142–43 (Shattuck).

19 Fourteen pitchers by Revere have been published by Kane, Colonial Massachusetts Silversmiths, 819–20.

20 Kathryn C. Buhler, American Silver, 1655–1825, in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1972), 2:470, cat. 420; 2: 517–19, cat. 461–62.

21 Procession. Boston, Oct. 19, 1789. Broadside, Boston, 1789. Published in Witness to America’s Past: Two Centuries of Collecting by the Massachusetts Historical Society (Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1991), cat. 90, pp. 117–18, ill. 89. Alan Kulikoff Fused this method to analyze Boston population (Kulikoff, “The Progress of Inequality in Revolutionary Boston,” 385–88).

22 Kulikoff used the Boston Tax Taking and Rate Books for 1790 in his essay. Kulikoff, “The Progress of Inequality in Revolutionary Boston,” 385, table 3.

23 This list excludes a small group of fellow silversmiths, the Revere family, and individuals who rented space from Revere but did not purchase silver. As for the balance of 283 individuals whose occupations remain unknown, future research will certainly modify the conclusions reached in this essay. Population distribution figures from Kulikoff, “The Progress of Inequality in Revolutionary Boston,” 377, table 1.

24 Daybooks 1:23–24; 2:74, 89, 93, 104, 130, 136. Clifford K. Shipton, Biographical Sketches of Those Who Attended Harvard College in the Classes 1746–1750 (Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1962), 190.

25 Daybooks 1:23–24; 2:74, 89, 93, 104, 130, 136. Clifford K. Shipton, Biographical Sketches of Those Who Attended Harvard College in the Classes 1746–1750 (Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1962), 190.

26 Middlesex County Probate Records, docket 1142, in Barrell Papers [microfilm], Massachusetts Historical Society; Daybooks 2:75, 127, 130, 156; Lainhart, First Boston City Directory, 37. The Taking Books of 1790 record Barrell as a merchant who lived in Ward 11, whose house was valued at £1400 and pasture land at £200. Kane, Colonial Massachusetts Silversmiths, does not identify any other colonial silver owned by Barrell.

27 Witness to America’s Past, 129–30, cat. 99, fig. 99.

28 Daybooks 2:86 (Blanchard), 113 (Simpkins); 1:37, 40, 42 (Hewes). The meaning of “double chapes” is unclear, but it appears to be a metal cover of some sort or the part of a buckle used to fasten it to a strap or belt. Compact Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987), 379.

29 By comparison to Balch, the mean assessment for hatters in 1790 was £240. The Taking Books of 1790 record Balch as a hatter of Ward 9 and a property owner in that location from 1779 to 1784. Thwing Project, no. 4062; Daybooks 1:44–45, 67; Kulikoff, “The Progress of Inequality in Revolutionary Boston,” 388. Kane, Colonial Massachusetts Silversmiths; does not identity’ any other Massachusetts silver made for Balch.

30 The Taking Books for 1780 and 1790 list Abraham Adams as a leatherdresser in Ward 12. In 1784, Adams engaged Revere to engrave two plates for hat bills and to print 200 of same, which suggests that Adams also made hats. His purchase was paid for with old silver, which is to say, damaged or unfashionable goods that were remelted and used for the new item. Daybooks 2:19; Lainhart, First Boston City Directory, 8; Kane, Colonial Massachusetts Silversmiths, 298. Kane, Colonial Massachusetts Silversmiths, does not identify any Massachusetts silver owned by Adams.

31 Crosby was listed in the 1780 and 1790 Taking Books as a barber living in ward 11. Daybooks 1:12, 15; Lainhart, First Boston City Directory, 33. Kane, Colonial Massachusetts Silversmiths, does not identify anv Massachusetts silver owned by Crosbv.

32 Taking Books, 1780, 1788, 1789, 1791, 1793, and 1799. Badger was called a “small” or “very small pewterer,” with one half house and shop in Ward 1. “T. Badger” purchased six silver teaspoons from Revere in 1784. Daybooks 2:20; Lainhart, First Boston City Directory, 13. Kane, Colonial Massachusetts Silversmiths, does not identify’ any Massachusetts silver owned by Badger.

33 Joseph Barrett, sailmaker, was listed in the 1790 Taking Books as owning a house and loft in Ward 4, each valued at £75. Daybooks 1:66, 71; 2: 56, 127, 130. The 1789 Boston city directory lists a Joseph W. Barrett, sail-maker, of Batterymarch St. Lainhart, First Boston City Directory, 14. Kane, Colonial Massachusetts Silversmiths, does not identify any Massachusetts silver owned by Barrett.

34 Gary John Kornblith, “From Artisans to Businessmen: Master Mechanics in New England, 1789–1850” (Ph.D. thesis, Princeton University, 1983), 96–103.

35 Hunnewell was listed as a mason in Ward 12 according to the 1790 Taking Books. He received a pitcher by Revere as a gift of the association in 1806. Martha Gandy Fales, “Samuel Gilbert’s Revere Pitcher,” Antiques 75, no. 5 (May 1959): 476–77. Daybooks 2:153–54; Annals of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association, 1705–1892 (Boston: Press of Rockwell and Churchill, 1892), 26–27. The teapot stand and sugar basket are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. C. Louise Avery, American Silver of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries: A Study Based on the Clearwater Collection (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1920), nos. 302–3.

36 Tuckerman appears as a Ward 12 baker in the Taking Books of 1780 and 1790. Park, Gilbert Stuart, 2:661–62, no. 728, 730; Buhler, American Silver, 1655–1825, 2:463, cat. 413.

37 The Compact Oxford English Dictionary, 594, offers several definitions of the word “crane” that were in use before Revere’s day. The most likely is the siphon, “a bent tube used to draw liquor out of a vessel.”

38 Daybooks 2:135, 141 (Samuel Barry), 73 (William Callender; Callendar was listed as a turner in Wards 4 and 10 from 1784 until 1798), 125, 128, 131, 140 (Christopher Gore); 1:41, 44, 45 (Thomas Emmons; Emmons appeared in the Taking Books in 1790 as a cooper and journeyman of Ward 12), 77; 2:68–69, 73, 77 (Samuel Dow; Dow was listed in the 1780 Taking Books as a “continental smith” in Ward 12); Lainhart, First Boston City Directory, 26, 39, 49. Some of these purchases were made prior to the formation of the MCMA.

39 Daybooks 1:9–10, 15, 21–22, 26–28, 32, 34–38, 44–45, 47–48, 53–54, 59, 77; Kane, Colonial Massachusetts Silversmiths, 820, 826, 849–52.

40 For Hichborn (also spelled Hitchborn and Hichbourn) family purchases, see Daybooks 1: 14, 17–19, 21, 23, 28, 32, 71–72, 76; 2:6, 19, 38, 52, 54, 58, 60, 61, 69, 70, 73–74, 79, 83, 115. For Man’ Hitchborn’s creampot, see Kathryn C. Buhler, American Silver from the Colonial Period through the Early Republic in the Worcester Art Museum (Worcester: Worcester Art Museum, 1979), 24, cat. 18. For Benjamin Hichborn, see Triber, A True Republican, 9.

41 Ledger, New Brick Church, Collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

42 As one of the investors in Joseph Barrell’s ship Columbia’s second voyage to the Northwest coast, it is likely that Parkman owned the vessel Industry. Daybooks 2:80, 85, 117, 122, 128, 132, 141, 144, 147, 163, 165–66; Park, Gilbert Stuart, 2:570, no. 608; Witness to America’s Past, 134–35, cat. 104. The urn is not recorded in Revere’s daybook; Lainhart, First Boston City Directory, 77.

43 William Williams’s purchases from Revere in Daybooks 2:118, 122, 123, 128, 130, 132, 136, 140, 141, 148, 151, 154, 158, 161; Thomas Lewis, in Daybooks 1:11; 2:121, 132; Enoch James in Daybooks 2:75, 79, 80, 84, 91, 97, 106, 107, 129. Lainhart, First Boston City Directory, 60, 65, 107. The Taking Books for 1790 lists William Williams, hatter, in Ward 5, and owner of half a shop and half a house. Thomas Lewis is probably the blockmaker of Ward 3 listed in the Taking Books of 1780, and wharfinger, Ward 3, of 1790. Dr. Rand was listed in the Taking Books of 1780 and 1790 as a doctor living in Ward 4; Lainhart, First Boston City Directory, 83; Daybooks 2:52, 57, 85–86, 88.

44 Music published by Revere and Flagg is treated by Clarence S. Brigham, Paul Revere’s Engravings (Worcester, Mass.: American Antiquarian Society, 1954), 16–18, 36–38, 80–82.

45 Daybooks 1:11, 16, 25, 49; James Henry Stark, The Loyalists of Massachusetts and the Other Side of the American Revolution (Boston: W. B. Clarke, 1910), 503; Triber, A True Republican, 26; Kane, Colonial Massachusetts Silversmiths, 800.

46 Daybooks 1:32 (Sharp), 5, 9, 15, 65, 76 (Brackett), 44, 48, 51, 54 (Collins); Col. William Palfrey, “An alphabetical list of the sons of Liberty who din’d at Liberty Tree Dorchester, Aug. 14, 1769,” Miscellaneous bound manuscript, Massachusetts Historical Society. Gibbens Sharp was recorded by the Taking Books of 1800 as a shipwright in Ward 4; in 1790, he was listed as a gentleman. Brigham, Paid Revere’s Engravings, 66, 120; Edith J. Steblecki, Paul Revere and Freemasonry (Boston: Paul Revere Memorial Association, 1985), 100–101; Triber, A True Republican, 29.

47 Steblecki, Paul Revere and Freemasonry, 10.

48 Walter Muir Whitehill, Boston: A Topographical History (Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1959), 112–13; Nathaniel Bradstreet Shurtleff, A Topographical and Historical Description of Boston, 3rd ed. (Boston: Rockwell and Churchill, City Printers, 1891), 605–14.

49 For a comprehensive look at Revere and his fraternal activities, see Steblecki, Paul Revere and Freemasonry, esp. 100–101, app. 1, 5; Edith J. Steblecki, “Fraternity, Philanthropy, and Revolution, Paul Revere and Freemasonry,” in Paul Revere—Artisan, Businessman, and Patriot, 117–47, n. 27.

50 Additional membership information was drawn from the Henry J. Parker Index, Massachusetts Masonic Lodge. Out of 309 patrons that Steblecki identified, 146, or nearly half, were Masons. This author has identified a total of 753 patrons of Revere, of whom 241, or one-third, were Masons.

51 Daybooks 1:29; 2:54, 88, 106, no, 113, 132, 136. The Taking Books from 1784 to 1791 record Brailsford as a glazier from Ward 5. Rumney was listed as a trader in Ward 4 between 1784 and 1791 with a house and shops that grew in number. This apparently preceded his business selling chocolate and mustard, as recorded in the 1789 Boston city directory. Hall was recorded in the taking books as a cabinetmaker of Ward 4 during the 1790s. According to the Parker Index, McAlpine was a member of St. Andrew’s in 1761. He fled to Scotland, his country of birth, where he died in 1788. Lainhart, First Boston City Directory, 22, 53, 86.

52 For Tracy, see Daybooks 1:67–69, 71. Buhler, American Silver, 1655–1825, 2:421, cat. 369.

53 Daybooks 1:74, 78; 2:32–33, 38, 102, 153; Allen Johnson, ed., Dictionary of American Biography (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1928), 19:479–80, 482–83; Brigham, Paul Revere’s Engravings, 102–5, plate 48. John Warren was among the founders of the Boston Medical Society, and the first professor of anatomy and surgery at Harvard College. From 1783 to 1784 and in 1787 he served as Grand Master of the Massachusetts Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons.

54 Steblecki, Paul Revere and Freemasonry, 52.

55 Jane Bortman, “Moses Hays and His Revere Silver,” Antiques 66, no. 4 (October 1954): 304–5. Jeannette W. Rosenbaum, Myer Myers, Goldsmith, 1723–1795 (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1954), 40, 60. For a few of the Hays commissions, see Kathryn C. Buhler, Masterpieces of American Silver (Richmond: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 1960), 64–65, cat. 119; Jonathan Fairbanks, Wendy A. Cooper et al., Paul Revere’s Boston: 1735–1818 (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1975), 186–87, figs. 288–89.

56 David Barquist, Myer Myers, forthcoming. I am grateful to David Barquist for his observations on Myer Myers.

57 For the Surinam commission, see Daybooks 1:31.

58 There were about seventy-five silversmiths and jewelers in Boston during the late colonial period, of whom Josiah Flagg, Paul Revere, Samuel Minott, and Daniel Parker (later a distiller) were politically active. Patricia E. Kane, “Artistry in Boston Silver of the Colonial Period,” in Kane, Colonial Massachusetts Silversmiths, 86.

59 David Hackett Fischer, Paul Revere’s Ride (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 20.

60 The revolution an’ groups included in this sample are the Loyal Nine, North Caucus, Tea Party, Long Room, Committees of Correspondence, Sons of Liberty, and London Enemies. Fischer, Paul Revere’s Ride, 301–7, app. D; Palfrey, “Alphabetical list of the sons of Liberty.”

61 Palfrey, “Alphabetical list of the sons of Liberty.” The names of all the Sons of Liberty may never be known, but the Palfrey list is one of the few surviving texts written by a known participant. Brigham, Paul Revere’s Engravings, 21–25, plate 6; Buhler, American Silver, 1655–1825, 2: 408–9, cat. 356; Fischer, Paul Revere’s Ride, 301–7, app. D.

62 For a full discussion of the origins and significance of the bowl, see the essay in this volume by Jonathan L. Fairbanks. For a small salt with related engraving, see Kathryn C. Buhler and Graham Hood, American Silver: Garvan and Other Collections in the Tale University Art Gallery, 2 vols. (New Haven: Yale University Press for the Yale Art Gallery, 1970), 1:187, cat. 241.

63 Park, Gilbert Stuart, 1:534–35, no. 561; 3:plate 561; Lainhart, First Boston City Directory, 8, 12. No hollowware is listed among Revere’s list of repairs for the Mortons, and a review of Kane, Colonial Massachusetts Silversmiths, reveals no hollowware or flatware made for the couple by any other Massachusetts silversmith of the period. Daybooks 1:59–63, 65; 2: 12, 15, 18, 20, 42–43, 56, 68, 75, 116, 144, 147–48, 152, 153, 154, 157, 159, 161, 164. Brigham, Paul Revere’s Engravings, 113, plate 53.

64 According to the annotated 1789 Boston city directory, John Avery was Secretary of the State, with an office in the Province House. The Taking Books of 1790 lists him as John Avery, Jr., Esq., of Ward 12, who owned “1 chaise, no horse, secretary.” Fischer, Paul Revere’s Ride, 306, lists “Gibbens Sharp” as a member of the North Caucus; the Taking Books for 1780 records a Gibbins Sharp, shipwright, of Ward 4, and in 1790 lists Gibbons Sharp, also of Ward 4, as a gentleman. Sharp is recorded as a shipwright in the 1789 Boston city directory. Moses Gill was a brazier who later became acting governor of Massachusetts. According to the 1790 Taking Books, Gill lived in Ward 10 and served as a counciller and merchant whose property was assessed at £1,000; his double store on Spears Wharf was assessed at £200. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, recently acquired a stylish Boston rococo side chair owned originally by Gill.

65 Park, Gilbert Stuart, 2:729–32, ill. 4:504–5. Much of Swan’s French furniture is in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. See Jeffrey H. Munger, “Royal French Furniture in Eighteenth-Century Boston,” Versailles: French Court Style and Its Influence (Toronto: University of Toronto, 1992), 113–25. Daybooks 1:71; 2: 8, 10, 13, 18, 20, 24, 31, 40, 42, 55. If Swan patronized other Massachusetts silversmiths, they have not yet been identified.

66 Daybooks 1:59–60 (Jabez Hatch). The Taking Books of 1780 and 1790 list Hatch as a wharfinger living in Ward 12. In 1790 his wood wharf was assessed at £250, and his house at £350. Daybooks 2:109–10, 114, 116, 121 (Thomas Knox); 1:76 (Elias Parkman). The 1780 Taking Books list Elias Parkman as a captain in Ward 2. By 1790, he was listed in the same ward, but “poor.” Daybooks 1:43–44, 46, 49, 78; 2:44, 57, 73, 83, 98, 106, 112, 114, 117, 122, 126, 130, 134, 141, 147, 148, 155, 157, 162, 165 (William Boardman). The 1790 Taking Books record a Deacon William Boardman, hatter, as living in Ward 5.

67 The fifteen men whose names are engraved on the bowl are Nathaniel Barber, William Bowes, Peter Boyer, Benjamin Cobb, Benjamin Goodwin, John Homer, Caleb Hopkins, Ichabod Jones, William Mackay, Daniel Malcolm, John Marston, Daniel Parker, Fortescue Vernon, John Welsh, and John White. Of these, only Homer, Hopkins, Mackay, Vernon, and Welsh patronized Revere for additional silver purchases.

68 For a breakdown of Copley’s sitters according to their political alliances see Jules David Prown, John Singleton Copley, 2 vols. (Washington: National Gallery of Art, 1965), 1:102–37. Prown notes that 55 percent of Tories and 45 percent of Whigs sat for Copley, a closely divided constituency that had recourse to few other portrait painters at the time. Revere probably had fewer Tories since it would have been far easier for them to import their silver than travel abroad to sit for their portrait.

69 Daybooks 1:46–47; Buhler, American Silver from the Colonial Period through the Early Republic, 42–47, cat. 50–57; American Portraits, 1620–1825, Found in Massachusetts, 2 vols. (Boston: Historical Records Survey, Works Progress Administration, 1939), 2:297, no. 1584.

70 Daybooks 1:42, 44–46, 49, 50, 54, 76–77; 2:3, 6, 75, 79, 83, 87, 116, 129. Clifford S. Shipton, Sibley’s Harvard Graduates, 14:251–54; Triber, 14 True Republican, 84, 89. Danforth was president of the Massachusetts Medical Society from 1795 to 1798. No evidence exists that the two men bartered their services with one another.