Few activities are more basic than cooking, and few metals used in the preparation of food are more basic than copper, which is just one of the reasons why copper cookware is the choice of amateur and professional chefs alike. Beyond this primal appeal, copper distributes heat more evenly than other metals or alloys, so much so that many stainless-steel pots and saute pans feature a layer of copper on their undersides. Sometimes, though, the contribution of copper to our diet is even more direct—according to the World Health Organization, we should all ingest 1.2 mg of copper daily. Fortunately, there’s plenty of copper in foods like lentils, shellfish, and chocolate, all of which are preferable to gnawing on the edge of your favorite copper mixing bowl.

Copper has been used continuously by Homo sapiens for some 10,000 years—a copper pendant from northern Iraq is the oldest example of the metal being formed into something beyond its natural state. Like gold, copper can be hammered cold into shapes, rolled flat, or melted and cast. Most pieces of copper hollowware—from pudding molds and tea kettles to pots and pans—employ a combination of these techniques. Typically, a rolled sheet of the metal is either pounded into its desired shape if it’s not too deep (a saute pan) or cut into a rectangle and formed into a cylinder for a tall item (a stock pot or tea kettle), whose base will be attached as a separate piece.

Seams between pieces of copper are often joined together via cramped or castellated joints (sometimes imprecisely called dovetail joints), which are pounded flat and then sealed by brazing. Lockseam joints are produced when a sheet of copper is folded back on itself at its meeting edges to create a pair of J-shapes, which can be hooked together, pounded flat, and soldered to make the seam watertight.

Of the manufacturers that have made copper cookware for the kitchen over the years, Revere stands out. Founded in 1801 by the American patriot and silversmith Paul Revere, Revere Copper and Brass Incorporated of Rome, New York, was making tin-lined copper hollowware back in the 1890s, and the company introduced its Revere Ware, which replaced the tin with stainless steel, in 1938. After World War II, Revere Ware took off, but in the 1950s it faced stiff competition from imported enamelware, especially Le Creuset, whose brightly colored pieces were a fun, cheerful alternative to the stodgy appearance of steel and copper.

One of the chief drawbacks of copper, besides its high price, is that raw copper exposed to air will form a green patina called verdigris. Though pleasant to look at (think of the green patina on the Statue of Liberty) it is poisonous to eat, which is why copper was tinned, and subsequently sealed behind stainless steel by Revere, in the first place. Still, some cookware is traditionally made of copper, and worth the elbow grease to remove the verdigris for the cooks who love them. Oblong fish steamers, for example, are often made of copper, as are double boilers and saucepans. In some cases, such as round-bottomed copper bowls designed for whisking egg whites, the copper is considered preferable to stainless steel or glass—egg whites whipped in copper are less likely to become overbeaten. In other cases, such as with cookie cutters, the classic look of copper permits these kitchen tools to be displayed on a wall or shelf when not in use.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Feeding America

Feeding America

This archive of 76 influential American cookbooks from the late 1700s to early 1900s, assembled by the Michigan St… [read review or visit site]

Tupper Diva

Tupper Diva

Kristian McManus’ fresh, airtight collection of Tupperware catalogs and related ephemera from the 1950s and 6… [read review or visit site]

Most watched eBay auctions    

8 Solid Copper Moscow Mule Mugs - West Bend Aluminum Co. - 16 Oz. CupsVintage Stove Top Percolator Coffee Pot Revere Ware Stainless Steel Copper Clad4 Gallon Heavy Duty Antique Early Victorian Copper Brazing Pot & CoverLarge Copper Vessel Jarring/canning Pot 24"x16" W/ Lid & Wooden HandlesVintage Set Of 6 Solid Copper Barrel Cavalier Mugs With Tray By National SilverPrimitive Antique John Van Range Rivet Forged Tin Dovetail 2qt Copper Sauce Pot Vintage Rare Revere Ware Ss Copper Clad Restaurant Cookware 8 Qt Stock Pot W/lidMartha Stewart Copper Cookie Cutter Lg Oh Christmas Tree Baking CookingVintage 1801 Revere Ware Copper Clad Stainless Steel Cookware 22 Pcs. Great Cond Revere Ware Egg Poacher Pan & Lid Copper Bottom Riverside 2 Copper Martha Stewart Living Chubby Pumpkin Big Tom Copper Cookie Cutter MoldVintage 17'' Alla Monda Hand Hammered Copper Chocolate Pan, Candy, SwitzerlandAntique Early 1800's Gooseneck Copper Tea Kettle Evw E V Wilkes Lined Nr YqzAntique Early 1900s Traditional Prohibition Copper Still Mash Pot With Domed LidRevere Ware 20 Qt.stockpot With Lid Copper BottomVintage Antique Very Rare Hammered Copper Jello 4 Layer Mold-repousse DetailVintage Cathedral Style Copper Bundt Cake Jello Mold Signed W/ Rooster7 Vintage Gregorian Copper Mule Mugs Cups Awesome Heavy Duty Great Form No ResVintage French Copper SautVintage Revere Ware 3 Qt Sauce Pan W/ Lid Steamer Double Boiler Copper Bottom Antique Late 1700's Swedish Copper Tea Kettle Tripod Cast Iron Legs Handle YqzAntique Forged Dovetail Copper Open Hearth Tea Pot Kettle Goose Neck Spout AafaVintage Simplex Chrome & Copper Whistling 2-1/2 Quart Tea Kettle Made Inengland Lg. Vintage Revere Ware Copper Bottom 12 Qt.stock Pot Stainless Steel And CopperMartha Stewart Copper Cookie Cutter Lg Prancing Reindeer Baking CookingVtg Revere Ware 6 Qt. Stainless Steel Copper Bottom Stock Sauce Pot Dutch Oven2009 Nambe Lisa Smith Copper Canyons Collection Bowl Studio Art Dish NrVintage Copper Paul Revere Signature Collection Solid Copper/ Ss 3 Qt Stock Pot 3 Pc. Revere Ware Copper Bottom 3 Qt Pan With Double Boiler Insert & LidVintage Rival Juice-o-mat Tilt Top Juicer Nj-848 Copper & ChromeVintage Juice-o-mat Juicer "tilt Top" Copper Chrome Rival Mfg. Co.Antique Copper Pot Pan Hanging Handle For Fire Vintage Rustic PrimitiveGregorian Copper Hammered Coffee Pot W/lidSet Of 2 Moscow Mule Mug 16 Ounce Used Bar Beer Mug High Quality Solid CopperAntique Copper Ring Jelly Mold Small SizeVtg. Revere Ware 1801 Signature Series - 3 Qt Pot Casserole - Copper Ss - No LidVintage 1801 Revereware Copper Bottom Pots14 Piece Copper Punch Bowl Set-tray-bowl & 12 CupsRevere Ware Copper Clad 8 Qt Stock Pot Pan With Lid Riverside Ca.Revere Ware Copper Clad 12" Stainless Steel Skillet With Lid Riverside Ca.Kitchen Collectibles Oscar Statue Copper Cookie Cutter | Fancy Flours NewVintage Antique Copper Jello/cake Mold Family Or Restaurant Size Star CenterPaul Revere Ware 1801 Whistling Tea Kettle / Pot Copper Bottom 2qt Trigger Spout3x Pure Copper Cups Glasses Tumblers Mug - Ayurveda Healing Or Drink Moscow MuleLarge Antique Old Hammered Copper Cast Iron Cauldron Pot Hand Forged PrimitiveAntique Pair Victorian Copper Cake Jelly Pudding Molds / Chain Rope Design #443Revere Ware 1801 Stainless Steel/copper Clad PansVintage Paul Revere 1801 Copper Cookware 9 Piece SetVtg 15-pc Revere Ware 1801 Cookware Set W/ Lids Copper-clad Stainless Steel Vintage Copper Cups Mayan Aztec Calendar Brass Accents Mug Set Of 6 Mugs Vtg NrLot Of 3 Vintage Smirnoff Vodka Mule Copper Cups/mugsVintage Rare Potugal Potugese Made Copper Container Containers Pot PotsVintage Copper Drinking Mug West Bend Moscow Mule Cock & Bull Coffee Cup Tea Vintage Paul Revere 1801 Signature Copper Pot Set ( 3, 2 & 1 Quart Pots) Nr! Antique Victorian Copper Zinc Lined Cake Pudding Mold Cool Shape Star CenterAntique French Signed Trottier Of Paris Copper Cake Jelly Mould 19th Mould MoldVintage Large Round Quality Copper 16.5" Double Fish Mold With Tin LiningCopper Saucepan Dehillerin Paris 9.4" Pro Chef 3mm ThicknessAntique French Large Hand-forged Copper Saucepan Marked Paris 24Antique Copper Bowl, Heavy