Famous American historian Paul Revere was also a silversmith

Farm Forum

Paul Revere’s name is known to every American school child because of his part in the Revolutionary War and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem with the memorable words, “Listen, my children, and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.” But few young students know that Revere was a military man, silversmith, engraver and an entrepreneur who made and sold iron castings of bells and canons, forged copper bolts, and the first rolled copper sheets. He was married twice and had 16 children. Eighteenth-century silversmiths were important, trusted citizens who turned silver coins into teapots and other objects for customers. Since there were no banks, these identifiable objects were safer forms than coins. It would have been easy to steal some of the silver, and a few silversmiths were caught and jailed for the crime. A porringer made by Paul Revere Jr. sold at a Skinner auction in 2016, for $39,975. It was marked with the name Revere and engraved “P/DB over BP.” It matched another porringer, now in a Massachusetts museum, that originally belonged to David and Betiah Pearce. That one was engraved “MP” for Mary Pearce, probably a sister of “BP.” The family history plus the fame of Revere led to the high price.

Q I have two old trunks, both from old houses. One has a three-inch brass plate that reads “Monson Trunk Factory, Fargo, N.D.” The other has a certificate on the inside of the lid that reads “No. 8412, Manufactured by Monson Trunk Factory.” Could you tell me how old they are?

A John Monson opened a men’s furnishings store in Fargo, North Dakota, in 1882. He established the Monson Trunk Factory in 1900. In 1910, the company made “the largest trunk in the world,” 10 feet high by 18 feet wide, and displayed it at the Fargo Fairgrounds, later using it as a garage. When his son J. Lloyd Monson took over the company about 1937, the name was changed to Monson’s Luggage Co. J. Lloyd retired in 1977 and the company operated until 1985. Your trunks are probably from the 1920s to early 1930s.

Q My brother-in-law gave me an old rusty ride-on toy. It’s blue, 24 inches long, and says Gimbel Flyer on the side. Do you know anything about this toy? I’m certainly not expecting a value equal to a new Corvette, but could you tell me if it’s worth anything?

A The original Gimbel Flyer was a train that took riders on a “trip around the world” in Children’s World at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Your Gimbel Flyer Streamliner toy was made by Marx about then. It was made of pressed steel and modeled after the one at the Fair. Gimbel Brothers was a department store in New York City from 1887 until 1987. At one time, it was the largest department store in the U.S. It is known for creating the Gimbels (now Macy’s) Thanksgiving Day Parade. Your Gimbel Flyer is in poor condition. A restored Gimbel Flyer, in blue and orange with a painted logo (that says Gimbel’s Flyer), and wooden steering handle, sold for $150 last year.

Q I inherited a small alarm clock stamped “LeCoultre 59” on the base. “LeCoultre 8” and “Swiss” are printed on the face. It has a gold dial with black Roman numerals and is set in a brass and rose-colored mirrored case. The clock has a music feature, but it’s overwound. The clock is 3 inches high and 2 inches wide. What is it worth?

A LeCoultre & Cie was founded in 1833 by Antoine LeCoultre, a watchmaker in Le Sentier, Switzerland. The company became Jaeger-LeCoultre in 1937 and is still in business. Your clock is an eight-day clock and only needs to be wound once every eight days. It was made about 1950 in both musical and non-musical versions. The musical version plays “The Blue Danube.” The clock case could look black or red. Red is rarer. The value of your clock is reduced because the musical feature isn’t working. In perfect condition the red clock is worth about $300, but your clock needs to have the musical parts repaired and is worth less.

Q We found a set of three ceramic figures when my mother-in-law died. One figure is a man wearing a hat that says “Bourbon” and another is a man playing a guitar that reads “Vodka.” The third figure is a Scottish man playing bagpipes with “Scotch” on the front. The heads of each figure pop on and off. Underneath each it reads “Member of the Bar by Swank.” What can you tell us about them?

A These decanters were made for Swank, a company that makes accessories for men. An ad for six Swank decanters ran in a December 1959 issue of Life magazine. The decanters were selling for $3.95 each. McCoy Pottery of Roseville, Ohio, made advertising items for Swank, but some of these decanters are labeled “Japan,” so may not have been made by McCoy. Value today, about $10-$15 each.

Tip: Always keep firearms locked up, even antique ones. Old guns should have the barrels filled so it is impossible to accidentally discharge them.

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