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    

Mauviel~ Quality 2.8mm Hammered Copper 2 Qt Sauce Pan W/cast Iron Handle~ FranceVintage Gregorian Solid Copper Mugs Cups Moscow Mule Usa Made Set Of 5Antique Art & Crafts Hammered Copper Low Bowl Lidded Box Large 10" Art Deco Un-opened! Revere Ware Stainless Steel Copper Clad Bottom Dutch Oven 4.5 Qt New!Revere Ware Copper Clad Percolator 6 Cup Coffee Pot Stove Top Pre-1968Vintage Revere Ware Copper Pan Pot Set Nos W Tags, Star Hallmark French Style NrLarge Antique Copper Alcohol Boiler Pot, Still, Moonshine, Beer, Wine, WhiskeyMatfer (mauviel) Solid Hammered Copper 4 Qt Sauce Pan W/cast Iron Handle~ FranceBritish Patent Simplex Whistling Solid Copper Kettle Tea Pot England Flat1.7l!Antique 18th C Hand Crafted Dovetailed Seams Copper Kettle Tea Pot Teapot YqzVintage 1930 French Bazar Francais Copper Tin Porcelain Double Boiler Pot Pan NrVintage French Bazar Francais Copper Brass Tin Pot W Lid Antique Ruegger Pan NrHuge Set, Lot Of 30 Piece Copper Bottom Revere Ware Vintage Copper Pre 1968 SetSet Of 3 Vintage West Bend Solid Copper Mugs Cups Moscow Mule CocktailMauviel ~ Quality 2.0mm Copper 2.5 Qt Sauce Pot W/bronze Hndl+tin Lining~ FranceVintage Revere Ware 2 Qt. Double Boiler Copper Clad Clinton, IlVintage Revere Ware 14 Cup Coffee Pot Percolator Bail Handle Copper Clad Camping10 Piece Copper Pots Pans Cookware Set, SautEarly Bazar Francais French Copper Tin Brass Jam Preserves Pan C. 1930 Pot NrVintage Hand Made Hammered Solid Copper MugRevere Ware 8-cup Percolator Stove Top Coffee Pot Copper Clad Pre-1968 Logo 1801 Wilton Quality Solid Copper Cookie Cutter's(set Of 5)Vintage Revere Ware Copper Clad Bottom 3 Pots With Lids ~ 1 Qt. - 3 Qt. - 4 Qt.1801 Paul Revere 11.5" Copper Crepe-flambe PanVintage Copper Signature Paul Revere 1801 3 Qt Stock Pot / Pan Nice!Mid Century Modern Lot 3 Of Copper Chase Usa Silver Lined Mug Stein CupsVintage Set Lot Of 3 Revere Ware Limited Edition Copper Pots W Lids PansVintage Paul Revere Ware 7" Copper Kettle Tea Pot Brass & Wood Handle Rome NyVintage Copper Barrel Moscow Mule Mug Cavalier National Silver CoVintage Genuine Boatman Vodka Solid Copper MugMauviel Copper 3.25 Qt. Saute Pan W/ Stainless Interior With Lid - Brass Handle Vintage Handcrafted Copper Kettle, Lidded Spout,copper KettleVintage 1801 Revere Ware Copper Bottom Pan Set 11 Pc Lot Skillets Pans Lids Vintage West Bend Copper Color W/black Lids 4 Pc Canister Set Aluminum RetroAntique French Tin Lined Copper Mold 1 Pound 3 1/2 OzVintage Revere Solid Copper Mug Rome N.y.Vintage Solid Copper Random Mugs Moscow Mule MugOld Dutch Solid Copper 3-qt. Whistling Tea KettleOld Collectible Copper Carving Old Myth Immoral & Auspicious Dragon Wine Pot Set Of 3 West Bend Aluminum Co Solid Copper MugsVintage Copper Three Canister Set2 Vintage Made In Italy Small Copper 5 1/2" Round Au Gratin Baking PansVintage Copper Mug Cup Handle3) Vintage Set Copper Kitchen Canisters Brass Plates HandlesAntique Hammered Copper Candy Apple Butter Pot Vintage Paul Revere Nos 1976 Limited Edition Copper Pot Pan 1801 French Style NrCopper Double Boiler 8 Cup Capacity13 Pc Set Copper Clad Pans/pots/skillets/lidsVintage Copper Mixing Bowl With Brass Ring 10" DiameterA Heavy Vintage Copper Tray With Brass HandlesVintage Coppercraft Guild Solid Copper CupVintage Revere Ware10 Quart Stockpot & Lid Rome, Ny 1982 & Tea Kettle CopperMartha Stewart Copper Heart Cookie Cutter Huge, 8 Inches, By Michael BonneLot Of 7 Vintage Coppercraft Guild Roly Poly Copper Glasses / Cups Paul Revere 1801 ~ 3 Qt. Copper Lidded Sauce Pan W/stainless Steel LiningBnib Vintage Wear Ever Hallite 3.5 Quart Aluminum Pot With Copper Cover Rare Vintage Copper Wash Boiler Tub Pot Lid Only Wooden HandleVintage Large Paul Revere Ware Copper Bottom Whistling Tea Pot Kettle 10 CupCopper 10.5" X 4.5 Jam Jelly Pot From Portugal Holds 4 QuartsNew Metalutil Copper 10.5" X 4" Hammered Jam Jelly Pot From Portugal 4 Quart