The United States has a fascinating history, filled with all types of stories. Some of the people we know, some of them we don’t. But one of the names with a prominent place in history is making headlines now, for a surprising reason.

A Familiar Name

Paul Revere was an American silversmith, Sons of Liberty member, and Patriot. He is most famously known for his midnight ride that alerted colonial forces to the approach of the British ahead of the battle at Lexington and Concord. That early warning is what allowed the colonists to get a leg up on the British in the beginnings of the Revolutionary War.

Source: Wikimedia/John Singleton Copley

While Revere is most famously known for his midnight ride, his legacy spans far beyond that. After the war, he expanded his metalsmithing to include metals other than silver. He worked in iron casting, bell and cannon casting, and was the first American to roll copper into sheets for use in naval vessels.

Making a Home For Himself After the War

Later in his life was when Paul Revere really found his stride and expanded his business. In 1801 he bought property in Canton, Massachusetts, where he ultimately started the Revere Copper Company and lived until he died in 1818. The land was passed onto his descendents, who also started businesses in the area.

Source: Wikimedia/Jack Boucher

After the Revere family passed on, though, the land was sold off and the home that Paul Revere initially bought has been through many owners in the years since. A recent discovery in that home is making headlines, though, not for the history but for what was found inside.

A Surprising Discovery in an Old Building

The home in Canton that Paul Revere once owned was being renovated in 2021 by its current owners, when the renovation team made a remarkable discovery. Behind a wall in the 220 year old home, some items were discovered that made the renovation team take pause.

Source: John McInnis Auctioneers

The items included wrought iron calipers, a turned wooden handle, a key, an account book and letters, and a rare wooden sign that bore the name of Paul Revere’s son, John. W. Revere. Upon turning over the items to the appropriate authorities, it was determined that the artifacts had once belonged to Paul Revere, and his family members themselves.

Immediate Buzz Around the Discovery

The items were immediate sensations, especially after they were turned over to John McInnis Auctioneers. The company formally announced that the items would be up for auction as a lot, and the buzz around the upcoming auction was intense among interested historians.

Source: John McInnis Auctioneers

The auctioneers publicly listed the bid price for the lot as $1000-$2000, though privately, McInnis stated that some of the items – namely the rare black and gold Revere sign – could draw a higher price if they were bid on individually.

The Items Were Remarkable

Included in the lot were the account book and the letters, which were ultimately found to belong to Paul Revere’s daughter in law and granddaughters, respectively. All of that would have been fascinating enough, but of course, the highlight of the auction was the black and gold sign.

Source: John McInnis Auctioneers

While McInnis acknowledged that the sign likely would have drawn more attention and a higher price if it had belonged to Paul Revere himself, it was still an amazing find. The lettering and wood were in excellent condition, and early American trade signs of the kind often sell for anywhere from $500 to $5000 on their own.

Intense Bidding, With Massive Interest From All Over

The bidding opened on December 10, at 10:00. The bidding ran for two days, and started out with an opening bid of $2750 for the entire lot. As mentioned, McInnis thought that some of the items would have gone more if they’d been bid on individually, but everything was bundled together, meaning interested parties had to bid on them all.

Source: John McInnis Auctioneers

Despite McInnis’ mild reservations regarding the size of the lot and the value of some of the items, the bidding went incredibly well. There was in-person bidding as well as phone and online bidding over the course of the two day auction, with each person more interested in the historical artifacts that the person who had bid before.

A Gangbuster Auction

Ultimately, the items went for a grand total of $20,000, which was more than McInnis could have imagined or hoped for when setting up the auction. He mentioned after the close of the auction that luck drove the prices higher, as well as sharing a personal belief that the Revere sign was also a factor.

Source: Facebook/John McInnis Auctioneers

The items ultimately went to an unnamed online bidder, but McInnis was simply happy to be a part of the sale of history. He shared in an interview that items like the Revere sign and the letters often come through his auction house, but the relationship to the Revere family really knocked the valuation and interest in the items up.

An Important Reminder About the Little Things

While the items that were sold may not have belonged to Paul Revere himself, it’s still a look into history that cannot be replicated or replaced. Many historical figures are known for one or two important moments in their lives, and it can sometimes be hard to remember that they were people, too.

Source: Wikimedia/Jhansen23

Paul Revere’s contributions to history cannot and should not be ignored, but the discovery of these items is a happy reminder that beyond the important moments are regular people. People who live, and love. People who have families, people who build lives. And ultimately, people who can be remembered from items found in a 220 year old home, hidden behind a wall.