Sold: Paul Revere Family Artifacts Found in a Boston-Area Attic

A trade sign bearing the name of the patriot’s son, along with letters and personal items owned by his grandchildren, sold at auction for $20,000

Letters and documents on top of the trade sign bearing the name Joseph W. Revere
Artifacts found in an attic in a Boston home consisted of items such as letters, tools and a trade sign, all believed to have been owned by the family of Paul Revere. John McInnis Auctioneers

Objects once owned by the family of Paul Revere have sold at auction for $20,000. The items—including a rare sign bearing the name of the legendary Revolutionary War figure’s son, Joseph W. Revere —were found in a 220-year-old home near Boston that was being renovated, reports Charlie McKenna of the Boston Globe.

Auctioneer John McInnis was surprised by the winning bid for the artifacts, which also included wrought iron calipers, a turned wooden handle, a silk and leather sewing valet, a key, letters and an account book belonging to Paul Revere’s grandchildren and daughter-in-law. He had expected the lot to sell for less than $8,000, while the auction website had estimated between $1,000 and $2,000.

“Provenance brought the value up,” McInnis told the Boston Globe.

House renovators found the artifacts behind a wall in the attic of a home in Canton, Massachusetts, about 20 miles southwest of Boston. According to the Associated Press (AP), the home was purchased by Revere in 1801, who later opened the still-in-business Revere Copper Company on the land.

Revere, a prominent figure in colonial Massachusetts, was a renowned silversmith, engraver and industrialist. In the lead-up to the American Revolution, he was a member of the Sons of Liberty movement protesting British control of the colonies.

A native and longtime resident of Boston, Revere was immortalized in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “Paul Revere’s Ride,” a dramatized account of how he warned the militia of the approach of the British Army at Lexington and Concord in 1775, reports the AP.

A trade sign with gold leaf lettering bearing the name of Joseph W. Revere
A trade sign with gold leaf lettering bearing the name of Paul's son, Joseph W. Revere, helped drive up the bidding of the items at the auction. John McInnis Auctioneers

Revere is also remembered for a famous etching he made of the Boston Massacre in 1770, when British troops fired on a mob of protestors, wounding a dozen people and killing five. Printed in American newspapers, the event’s depiction helped inflame passions in the colonies before the American Revolution.

The highlight of the auction, which concluded on December 11, was the trade sign with Joseph W. Revere’s name, per the AP. Painted black with gold leaf lettering, it was likely used for a business owned by the Revere family in Canton.

McInnis tells the Boston Globe that early American trade signs sell for between $500 and $5,000, depending on their condition and how “beautiful” they are. The assumed connection to the Revere family helped drive up the price of the items, which were offered in a single lot at auction.

“That’s what really made it is the things it was surrounded by,” McInnis says in the Boston Globe, adding that the sign would probably sell for more had it belonged to the father.

According to the auctioneer, an unnamed online bidder won the auction, which also featured phone and in-person participants. Starting price of the live-streamed auction was $2,750, per the Boston Globe.