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Paul Revere Tea Service



The teapot was designed in the federal style, with straight edges, simple engraved decoration, and a dark wood handle.


A tea caddy held expensive imported tea. A tiny key original to the set locks this little box.


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This little silver shell was used to measure tea leaves for brewing the popular beverage.


key idea
The union of fashion and function

In colonial America, the average person lived a simple life. Yet people still looked back to England and around the world for little luxuries. From England and elsewhere, trendy products were exported to the colonies.

One fashion the colonists could not resist was tea. This hot drink, which originated in Asia, was introduced to Europe through trade in 1610 and then brought from England to America. The fascinating new beverage quickly became an essential delight. For women, especially, the social ceremony of meeting for tea became an important part of everyday life. The popularity of tea sweeping through the colonies brought a demand for special utensils and furnishings, particularly in upper-class homes. Objects designed specifically for preparing and serving tea included teapots, sugar urns, cream jugs, and spoons, and also tea tables.

Each piece in the tea service had its function. The teapot, on its stand, held hot water. The tea caddy, a lockable box, held loose tea, and there might be a tray on which to display the caddy. A matching pitcher for cream and a covered urn for sugar lumps are included in this set. A pair of sugar tongs was used for putting the sugar lumps in the teacups. The small shell-shaped scoop, which was kept inside the tea caddy, was used for measuring the tea. The teaspoons and tablespoons were used for stirring the tea as well as for mealtime eating. Also included in the Paul Revere set is a punch strainer. A beverage made of fruit, wine, water, sugar and spices, punch was served at festive evening gatherings.

Following the fashions of the day, Paul Revere designed this set in the federal style. Harking back to classical Greek and Roman architecture and sculpture, this style emphasized simple shapes, straight lines, and clean edges. The vertical lines on the larger serving pieces suggest the fluted columns on classical buildings, and the sugar urn has a classical urn shape. To create the engraved decoration, Revere carefully carved and cut into the silver. The repeating drapery and tassels also echo classical designs from Greek and Roman architecture.



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Spoons, the most common colonial utensils, were used at tea and meal times.
   
February 2007