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    

Vintage 15 Piece Set .revere Ware Stainless Steel Copper Clad Cookware UsaIn Box Copper Clad Revere Ware 8" Covered Skillet W Egg Poacher Pan Never UsedIn Box Copper Clad Revere Ware 2 Quart Double Boiler Sauce Soup Pan Never UsedAntique Vtg Copper Coffee Pot Urn 20" Nice Kitchen Or Coffee Shop Store DisplayRevere Ware 8 Qt Copper Bottom Stainless Steel Oven Safe Stock Pot New In BoxAntique Copper Jelly Aspic Mould Mold Victorian Marked Lw 142 No Reserve4 X Moscow Mule Pure Solid Copper Cup Bar Beer Mug 14 Oz Set Of 4 ***---***Gorgeous Large Copper Bowl With Brass Handles. Great Decor Piece! Set Of 4 ~ 4xmoskow Mule Copper Mug 14oz Pure Copper~us Free & Fast Shipping***Ruffoni Italy Hammered Copper Braiser With Lid - 6 Quarts - 28 CmAll Clad Copper Core With Stainless Steel 8" Nonstick Fry Pan W Stainless HandleRevere Ware Copper Bottom 10" Fry Pan With Lid And 6 Cup Egg Poacher Insert Set Of 4 - Moskow Mule Copper Mug - 14oz Pure Copper ~us Free & Fast Shipping~In Box Copper Clad Revere Ware 1 Quart Sauce Soup Pan Never Used2 X Moskow Mule Pure Solid Copper Mug Cup Beer Bar ~ Set Of 2 ~ Fast Shipping**In Box Copper Clad Revere Ware 3 Quart Whistling Teapot Tea Kettle Never UsedBenham & Froud Copper Jelly Mould No 170 - Christopher Dresser Arts & Crafts EraAntique Copper Jelly Mould.crown Marked.4 X Moscow Mule Pure Solid Copper Cup Bar Beer Mug -14 Oz - Set Of 4 - Gift2 X Moscow Mule Pure Solid Copper Cup Bar Beer Mug~ Set Of 2 ~ Best Price Ever ~Moskow Mule Copper Mug - Set Of 1 - Pure Copper -4 X Moscow Mule Pure Solid Copper Cup Bar Beer Mug 14 Oz Set Of 4 -fast ShippingVintage Revere Ware Usa 1801 Copper Clad 3 Pc Fry Pan Set ~ ExcellentVintage Misc Set Of 14 Revere Ware Copper Clad Pots And Pans With Lids Nice Vintage Large Hammered Copper Cauldron- Planter--hearth Pot Dovetail Seams2 X Moscow Mule Pure Solid Copper Cup Bar Beer Mug~~set Of 2~pure Copper~nycwareSet Of 2 ~ Moscow Mule Copper Mug Solid Copper Bar Hammered Handmade 14oz Set Of 2 ~ Moscow Mule Pure Solid Copper Cup Bar Beer Mug Best Mug Price Ever ~Vintage Set Of 6 Pcs 1801 Revere Ware Copper Clad Cookware Pots PansAntique Copper Jelly Mould.crown Marked.8 Piece Lot Vintage Revere Ware 6 Pre 1968 68 Copper Bottom Pots Pans Stockpot~set Of 2~moskow Mule Pure Solid Copper Mug Cup Beer Bar~us Seller~free ShippingSet Of 2 ~ Moskow Mule Copper Mug Cup ~14 Oz~high Quality ~~free ShippingAmazing Vintage Antique Lion Candy Chocolate Mold Really Detailed2 Vintage Revere Ware (1801) 2 Quart Copper Clad Pots W/ Lids Double Circle Vtg 1801 Revere Ware Copper Clad 8 Qt Stock Pot W/ Lid Rome , Ny UsaRevere Ware 3/4 Quart Copper Bottom Pan With Lid Clinton Ill.4 X Moscow Mule Copper Mug Hammered Copper** Set Of 4 ** New Mugs ** Set Of 4 ~ Moskow Mule Copper Mug ~ Solid & Pure Mug ~ Best Holiday Gift Ever ~Vintage Copper Kitchen Canisters Set Of 4 Pebbled FinishVintage1801 Revere Ware 3 Qt. Stainless Steel Copper Bottom Sauce Pan PotVintage Revere Ware Percolator Coffee Pot ~ Copper Clad Bottom4 X Hammered Moskow Mule~set Of 4~14oz~pure Copper Mug Beer Cup Best~ Big Sale ~Set Of 2 ~ Moskow Mule Copper Mug Cup ~14 Oz~high Quality Handmade~ Us ShippingCollectible Copper Bowl With Scorpion Legs, Vintage Brass Scorpion4 X Moscow Mule Pure Solid Copper Cup Mug 14 Oz _ Set Of 4 _ Free ShippingRevere Ware 4 Quart Copper Bottom Pan With Lid Rome NyVintage Revere Ware Copper Bottom 4 1/2 Quart Stockpot With Lid 1801 94m #2Vintage Copper Pan & Lid Made In FranceVintage 1801 Revere Ware Copper Bottom 12 Quart Stock Pot With Lid In Euc, UsaVintage Revere Ware Copper Clad & Stainless Steel 8 Cup Percolator Coffee PotUnique Antique English Hammered Copper & Brass Tea Pot- Wood Turned Handle-niceRevere Ware Vintage Copper Measuring Cups Set New In BoxRevere Ware Copper Clad Bottom 8 Qt. Stock PotRevere Ware Copper Bottom Tea KettleAntique Jelly Aspic Copper Mold Mould Signed ``g.d. Hotel`` Benjamin & Medwin Copper Pot With Lid ~ Medium Size ~ VintageSet Of 4~solid Moscow Mule Pure Solid Copper Cup Mug -14 Oz Ultra Fast Shipping4 X Moscow Mule Pure Solid Copper Cup Bar Beer Mug 14 Oz Set Of 4 Free ShippingCopper Ladle W/brass Handle 9 1/2" Bowl