Paul Revere is the most famous early American silversmith and a hero of the American Revolution. Amongst other things, he also established a cast iron foundry, was a leading manufacturer of bells and canon and the first American to successfully roll copper into sheets.

Silver coffee pot by Paul Revere (1773)
Silver coffee pot by Paul Revere (1773)

Paul Revere started his business career as a silversmith with a shop in Boston. But business was so poor in a recession beginning in 1865, that he took up dentistry. At about that time, he joined a dissident group called “The Sons of Liberty” and produced engravings with political themes.

In 1773, he was one of the ringleaders of the Boston Tea Party and, from 1773 to 1775, he served as a courier traveling to New York and Philadelphia bringing news of the political unrest in Boston. On 18 April 1775, he famously rode from Charlestown to Lexington warning patriots that British troops were coming.

Because Boston was besieged, Paul Revere could not return and he established a gun powder mill at Stoughton (about 30 kilometres south of Boston). On returning to Boston in 1776, he joined the militia as a major and was later promoted to lieutenant colonel. Following an incident in which he resisted an order from a superior officer, Paul Revere was forced to resign from the army.

He returned to his silversmith business and began focusing on standardising and mass producing small items like spoons and buckles. When this business became profitable, he invested the proceeds in establishing a cast iron foundry, the profits from which went into establishing a bronze bell-casting business. The firm become one of the leading bell casters in America.

The bell casting business was then expanded into manufacturing canon and, then, into copper bolts, spikes and fittings for the Boston shipyards. He next became a pioneer in the production of rolled copper, opening North America’s first copper mill.

After Paul Revere’s death, the family business was taken over by his oldest surviving son, Joseph Warren Revere. The copper works continues as the Revere Copper Company. Paul Revere’s original silverware, engravings and other works are highly regarded today.