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Paul Revere Tea Service

Paul Revere is best known for his famous midnight ride from Boston to Lexington at the beginning of the American Revolution.
William Robinson Leigh, Awaken . . ., Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.

This painting by another colonial artist shows Paul Revere working on a silver teapot. His silversmithing tools lie on the table.
John Singleton Copley (American, 1738-1815), Paul Revere, 1776, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Paul Revere practiced dentistry and used this set of dental tools to extract teeth.
Paul Revere’s dental tools, Courtesy of the National Museum of Health and Medicine, Armed Forces, Institute of Pathology, Washington, D.C. (NCP 1331)

key idea
A man with a silver touch

Paul Revere was born in 1735 in the colonial town of Boston, Massachusetts. His father, a master craftsman, ran his own silversmith shop. Since most colonial boys followed their father’s trade, Paul Revere trained as a silversmith during his teenage years. But when Paul was just nineteen years old, his father died, leaving behind a large family. As the oldest son, Paul Revere was allowed to take over the shop, even though he wasn’t legally old enough and hadn’t finished his apprenticeship. He worked as a silversmith for forty years, becoming one of the most famous American silver artists.

Although Paul Revere made over five thousand silver objects, that was not the only work he did during his life. He cast church bells and cannons, engraved copper for printmaking, drew political cartoons, created and repaired jewelry, produced equipment for ships, ran a hardware store, designed false teeth, made surgeon’s and dentist’s tools, and even practiced some dentistry himself. Yet he remains best known for riding from Boston to Lexington, Massachusetts, at the start of the American Revolution, to warn that British troops were coming.

February 2007