Furniture & Decorative Arts

Paul Revere: Silversmith & Engraver

 

Monroe Dreher with his collection of Paul Revere
Monroe F. Dreher with his collection of Paul Revere

 

NEW YORK, NY -- Monroe F. Dreher (1889-1970) was the driving force behind the remarkable collection of Paul Revere silver and engraving to be auctioned at Doyle on November 2 & 3, 2021. The majority of these pieces have remained unseen for nearly 70 years. Dreher was a dedicated collector of American antiques in the 1940s and 50s and an archetypical New York advertising “Mad Man”.  His eponymous advertising agency represented a number of iconic American brands, most notably Avon cosmetics. Dreher was responsible for the famous “Ding dong! Avon Calling!” slogan.

Like many passionate collectors of American antiques of that era, Dreher outfitted his office at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, and his Connecticut residence, Bonnet Hill Farm, with Americana works. Dreher had the Richard Webb house, built circa 1700, moved from Stamford to Darien in the 1940s, renaming it Bonnet Hill. The house and collection were featured in The Magazine Antiques and Ladies Home Journal in 1954-55.

Monroe Dreher Living Room at Bonnet Hill
Monroe F. Dreher's Living Room at Bonnet Hill

 

Working with silver dealer Stephen Ensko and Harry Shaw Newman of The Old Print Shop, Dreher acquired important works by Paul Revere. Many of the works had descended within the original families and Dreher was fastidious about recording the provenance of these pieces.

Paul Revere (1735-1818), best known as the American Revolutionary War hero whose “Midnight Ride” of 1775 warned the patriots that the British were coming, was a man of many exceptional talents. Revere apprenticed at thirteen at his father’s silver shop, and worked both pre and post revolution as a silversmith. Much is known of his silver production and clientele based on the Revere daybooks of 1761-1797, which are today preserved at the Massachusetts Historical Society. Revere was an entrepreneur who embraced technology, expanding his business into silver sheet production and copper and iron casting after the Revolution. He was also a copper plate engraver and printer, producing trade cards and illustrations. Many of these works relate to his professional and political associations, such as the Saint Andrew’s Masonic Lodge and the patriot organization Sons of Liberty.

Paul Revere, Bloody Massacre
Lot 39, Paul Revere THE BLOODY MASSACRE Hand-colored engraving


The Dreher Collection features Paul Revere’s most well-known and sought after print, The Bloody Massacre. This powerful rendering of the bloody events of March 5, 1770, when the British killed five Bostonians, is arguably the most famous propaganda image printed during the American Revolution. Immediately after the confrontation, Revere realized its significance as a time when tensions were high between England and the colonies, and he both sought and succeeded to circulate a depiction that would further the patriot cause. 

English ceramic model for the iconic Liverpool Pitcher
English ceramic model for the iconic Liverpool Pitcher

 

The Revere silver grouping includes a rare example of Revere’s iconic Liverpool pitcher, which Revere adapted from an English ceramic model. The form has been copied by generations of American silver manufacturers. This pitcher makes the fifteenth known example of the form. Most are in public collections, so this marks a rare appearance of the form at auction. The work is also significant in its demonstration of Revere’s role as a supplier to other Boston silversmiths of the era; the pitcher is also marked by Ebenezer Moulton.

Revere’s daybooks from 1783
Revere’s daybook entry for Cptn. Stephen Smith’s silver cream jug, 1783

 

A silver cream pot is documented in Revere’s daybooks from 1783, after Revere had returned to silversmithing following a five-year hiatus for the Revolution. Revere has updated the earlier double-bellied form with neoclassical beading in the latest post-revolutionary fashion, then added a beautifully engraved foliate cartouche for Captain Stephen Smith (1739-1806) and Deborah Ellis (1741-1825).

Two spoons, dating to 1784, are similarly decorated in the latest neoclassical fashion. Ordered by a member of Boston’s Spooner family, whose name also appears in Revere’s daybooks, the spoons were likely commissioned as a set of six. The heraldic crest on these spoons reflect the fine engraving skills of Revere. The collection is rounded out by one of Revere’s most ubiquitous forms, the porringer, whose form changed little over Revere’s lengthy and illustrious career.

The 1770 engraving of the Boston Massacre by Paul Revere will highlight the November 2 auction of American Paintings & Prints (View Lot). Silver by Paul Revere will highlight the November 3 auction of American Furniture, Silver & Decorative Arts (Read More). View both exhibitions at Doyle on Oct 30 - Nov 1 from Noon - 5pm, and by appointment.

Additional works in silver, prints, furniture, coins and books from the Dreher Collection will be offered in select sales this Fall.

Portrait of specialist Jennifer K.  Pitman
Business Development / Connecticut Regional Advisor
Furniture & Decorative Arts
View Specialist Profile