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Author Topic:   Paul Revere

Posts: 307
Registered: Aug 2008

iconnumber posted 05-01-2021 04:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cbc58     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Two questions:

1.) is there any way to tell if Paul Revere himself made an item?

2.) is there a definitive way to determine if a Revere spoon is genuine? I assume you closely examine the marks and form, and do an XRF test on the metal to confirm it is likely of the period. anything else? is there a certification process beyond that anywhere ?

Tks in advance.

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iconnumber posted 05-02-2021 10:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I suspect that the only way that comes close to knowing that the object was made by Paul Revere is if it came down through your family or there was another form of chain of custody that appeared genuine.
I have a dealer friend who acquired a water pitcher with Paul Revere's mark that he thought was genuine. He really did not want to sell it so he put on it a price that he thought would be higher than anyone would pay. It still sold.
I remember an old study by Winterthur Museum on fakes and if I can find it I will post it.

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iconnumber posted 05-04-2021 11:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think this is the article that I remembered reading some years ago.

Real or Fake: Scientists Look at Art
By John Noble Wilford

• Nov. 4, 1997

IF Paul Revere had made all the silver cups and spoons attributed to him, he would not have had time for his famous midnight ride.

Curators at the Winterthur Museum here repeat this wry observation out of exasperation and a sense of triumph. Exasperation over the prevalence not only of faux Revere silver but of many other misidentified and faked art and antiques on the market and even in respected collections like their own. And triumph because, with high-tech investigative methods, they are increasingly able to expose artistic impostors.

Over recent years, art and science have intersected in the back rooms of museums, and in laboratories stocked with instruments designed mainly to probe living cells, examine mineral structures, inspect rocket parts and study Moon rocks. As a result, the palette of art language, the talk of pigment and binder, chiaroscuro and pentimento, now includes terms from the science lexicon like X-ray fluorescence and infrared spectroscopy.

The role of scientific analysis in the art world is beginning to share a place in the public galleries. Two years ago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York held an exhibition, ''Rembrandt/Not Rembrandt,'' to show how X-ray and nuclear radiation technologies helped reveal the methods of the Dutch master, detect changes through restorations and separate real Rembrandt's from the works of pupils and imitators.

At the Winterthur, a museum on the manicured grounds of a former DuPont estate that specializes in early American paintings and decorative art, curators have gone public with the fakes in their collection and examples of how they used science to find them out. Their exhibition, ''Deceit, Deception and Discovery,'' runs through Jan. 31. They and other investigators of art fakes will describe their methods on Saturday at a conference, ''Scientific Analysis for Art's Sake.''

''In the public mind, art and science are like oil and water -- they don't mix,'' said Charles F. Hummel, a curator emeritus at Winterthur. ''We find them a good mix, enabling us to authenticate and identify materials and also understand how to restore genuine pieces.''

Using space-age technologies, for example, scientists at Winterthur have determined that in a collection of more than 1,000 silver pieces, supposedly by early American silversmiths like Revere, 76 percent of them were not genuine; most were 20th-century copies meant to deceive collectors. They also exposed forgeries of letters by George Washington and portraits by Charles Wilson Peale. That desk on which Thomas Jefferson was supposed to have written the Declaration of Independence, they discovered, was actually a replica that over the years came to be regarded as the real thing.

''Deliberate faking still goes on,'' Mr. Hummel said, ''but it's not as big a problem as the passing off of good-quality reproductions as the genuine article.'' In the latter case the owners, not the makers of the piece, perpetrate the fraud.

Curators and scientists are still debating the provenance of a beautifully painted chest in the Pennsylvania German style. Their examination of drill holes, nails and paint chemistry reveals that the date painted on the lid -- 1792 -- is undoubtedly a deception. The remaining question is whether the Himmelburger chest was actually made in the late 19th century or early in this century.

Suspicion was cast on the chest, acquired by the du Pont family in the 1920's, when experts in antiques noted a few years ago that the style of the painted decoration appeared to be 19th century. So they submitted a tiny sample of the paint to chemical analysis by an instrument known as a Fourier transform infrared spectroscope. Bombarded with infrared light, invisible to the human eye, a sample reacts in a way that produces a computer-generated ''fingerprint'' of the different chemical compounds present in the object. These fingerprints are then compared with those of known compounds.

In this case, a green pigment was revealed to contain a large amount of copper stearate, a paint additive not introduced until the late 19th century. In further tests, peg holes in the chest were X-rayed with much the same energies used in a dentist's office, and this produced the most telling evidence, recalled Gregory Landry, Winterthur's director of conservation. The holes had been made with a type of drill not available in 1792.

And then there were the nails. ''From the outside,'' Mr. Landry said, ''the nails looked convincing, just like wrought nails, but they were not.''

The nails had been made from wire, a manufacturing technique not common until the 1870's, and then hammered to look like a wrought nail used in similar chests known to be authentic 18th-century furniture.

Is this a deliberate fake? Mr. Landry pondered the question before answering, Probably not.

''Other things suggest that it's not an intentional fake,'' he said. ''On the backside, nuts are exposed on the outside. If the artisan was trying to deceive a collector, he wouldn't have put bolts in. Also, there are 18 nails holding the bottom of one drawer. That's out of character. There would have been wooden pegs.''

Asked if, knowing what he does, he could produce a fake that would fool the experts, Mr. Landry replied: ''Not really. There is a detectable aged quality to old pieces that you just can't fake -- the way coatings change with age, the sort of deposits that build up.''

Janice H. Carlson, a senior scientist at Winterthur, presides over the laboratory in which many a fake has been unmasked. Around her are microscopes, computers and X-ray and infrared machines, a setting more familiar to universities and space science centers than museums. One of the most useful instruments, the energy dispersion X-ray fluorescence machine, was developed for the space researchers analyzing Moon rocks without destroying or damaging the samples.

Standing by the machine, Ms. Carlson recalled her investigative triumph in the case of the Lenssen silver. ''We devoted a ton of time collecting data and making sense of the data,'' she said. ''It took five or six analyses of each object, and there were a thousand objects.''

In the 1930's, Arthur Lenssen, a New York insurance executive, began collecting antiques, especially colonial silver. He kept meticulous records of his purchases, noting that many of the silver pieces were represented as works of such notable early American silversmiths as Elias Pelletreau, Paul Revere and John Hull. This made them rare and expensive collectibles. Yet certain dealers always seem to come up with the valuable items Mr. Lenssen was looking for, which perhaps should have raised suspicions there and then.

But not until the Lenssen collection, which had been donated to the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J., was examined at Winterthur did the truth come out.

Using the X-ray fluorescence machine, Ms. Carlson irradiated the objects, one by one. An X-ray beam focused on the surface of an object causes it to emit radiations that are analyzed by a detector. The emissions are displayed on a computer screen in the shape of a graph with peaks and valleys. The graph thus reveals the chemical elements of material in the objects.

In one of the early tests, Ms. Carlson determined that a dram cup, purportedly made in 1650 by Hull, a Boston silversmith, consisted of extremely pure silver -- 92.5 percent silver and 5.5 percent copper. There were no traces of gold or lead, commonly found in colonial silver.
The results, Ms. Carlson knew, were ''characteristic of modern silver, made after the mid-19th century when electrolytic refining processes made it possible to produce silver containing none of its natural impurities.''

The current exhibition at Winterthur displays many more of the fakes exposed by Ms. Carlson's detective work, including fake Revere spoons, beakers, buckles and candle snuffers. ''The collector really got fleeced,'' Ms. Carlson concluded.

Only a half-dozen or so museums in the country have such well-equipped laboratories for the scientific analysis of art, and Winterthur is the only one that trains future museum conservators in such techniques. It does this through a degree-granting program operated with the University of Delaware.

At the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, paintings are examined in a two-story studio with high light boards for the study of X-rays. The focus of research is the investigation of the working methods of the masters and the restoration of old canvasses. But when one of the museum's acquisitions, ''Man of Sorrows'' purportedly by an unknown Flemish painter of the 15th century, was suspected of being a fake, the focus shifted to sleuthing.

The science of dendrochronology, tree-ring dating, established that the oak panel on which the paint was applied was from northern Europe in the late 15th century. Examination of the paint and details of the body of Christ by X-rays and under ultraviolet light showed that this was for the most part authentic.

The scientific study, said Hubert von Sonnenburg, the museum's chairman of painting conservation, established that the painting ''is not an outright forgery, but a rather cunningly restored original, with surviving authentic components.''
Other museums join in consortiums to take advantage of the new investigative technologies, as in the case of the New York and New England institutions that operate the Williamstown Art Conservation Center in Massachusetts. Sometimes the center's scientific analyses also expose a clever fraud.

Examining a portrait attributed to Francois Clouet, a 16th-century French painter, James Martin, the director of analytical sciences, found some Prussian blue, a synthetic pigment developed in the 18th century. Further testing showed that the portrait was probably painted after 1850.

And a collector who thought he had a baseball bat used by Shoeless Joe Jackson before World War I had reason to use the famous plea, ''Say it ain't so,'' that a boy once voiced to the fallen ballplayer. Ingredients of the black paint and other clues examined at the Williamstown center suggested that the bat was made no earlier than 1929, a decade after Jackson was banned from baseball for his part in the Black Sox betting scandal of 1919.

[This message has been edited by Scott Martin (edited 05-04-2021).]

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iconnumber posted 05-04-2021 06:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Silverpath     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great article! Thanks for sharing.

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iconnumber posted 05-04-2021 06:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cbc58     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
ahwt - thank you very much for finding that article. this part really caught my attention:

...scientists at Winterthur have determined that in a collection of more than 1,000 silver pieces, supposedly by early American silversmiths like Revere, 76 percent of them were not genuine.


I was wondering if Revere used a certain mark by himself vs. the other members of his shop. I have Kane's book and it shows his business sold quite a bit of silver -- and his work is not rare but very collectible thanks to Mr. Longfellow. The Revere family ought to send royalty checks to the Longfellows...

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iconnumber posted 05-05-2021 12:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

This is from The Cleveland Museum of Art Catalogue of American Silver and provides a taste of reaction that silver researchers had to the invention of X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy pioneered by Winterthur. Researchers loved it and most of the silver objects in this lovely book went through this analysis.
This excellent book was published in both hard copy and softcover is readily available on the used book market. They show six or seven Paul Revere articles of which a couple are considered fakes. Other fakes are also shown; some are considered fakes by the silver content and others simply by comparison to known marks.
I wonder about a few of their conclusions as this does seem to be a time period when researchers were actively looking for fakes. Sometimes if you look too hard one can find things that are not there.
DuPont was called in to help Winterthur and my then brother-in-law helped develop their testing procedure in the early 1990s.

[This message has been edited by ahwt (edited 05-05-2021).]

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iconnumber posted 05-06-2021 11:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Thanks, cbc58 for asking about Paul Revere as I had forgotten about this book on silver in the Cleveland Art Museum and your question was a good remainder.
I posted a couple examples of the author’s detective work above on some silver marked Revere. The conclusions reached for these were, I think, fairly easy to come make. Most of the silver in their collection is authentic, but it is interesting to see how fakes do turn up even in collections of prime collectors and museums. I should also note that much of the silver in this museum came from Hollis French, an early and important collector of American silver.

[This message has been edited by ahwt (edited 05-06-2021).]

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iconnumber posted 07-28-2021 04:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

The above Revere spoon was from a recent auction. Some of items from this sale are in this month's Maine Antique Digest. Given the results of this sale everyone must have been satisfied with the authenticity of the Revere marks.
This magazine normally does not have many silver items to look at, but this time they also included many interesting items from a Long Island auction sale as well as the Paul Revere sale.

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iconnumber posted 08-06-2021 11:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cbc58     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you ahwt. Someone had told me about that auction and I watched in real time as that spoon (and others) were bid up beyond values I could imagine. He made a lot of silver (well his shop did), so it's not that rare. Think I'd rather have one of his etchings so that I know he actually did the work.

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