Personal Effects, July 15

BY JERRY SAMPSON

Question: Dear J., my husband and I have a question. We listened to a cooking / food podcast some time ago. The hostess said “that no good copper cookware has little brass handles.” We’ve found one manufacturer that we love and it has brass handles. Is it not any good? It’s copper with brass handles and is made by Revere Ware. It’s not the copper bottomed pieces. This is all copper. It’s getting hard to find and we don’t look online as we enjoy the hunt. We have about 12 pieces and love repeat pieces as we use it all the time. Please help solve our quandary. Thanks.

Answer: I think that what the podcaster was eluding to were the French, German and Swiss copper cookware pieces. Indeed these have handles that are cast iron. This is the type of copper kitchen ware that you pass onto your children in your will. It costs the world and lasts forever. You’ll see it featured in period pieces like Downton Abbey & Upstairs / Downstairs and upscale “old school” cooking shows.

Now, what you have isn’t quite that kind of an heirloom but still in my book, it’s great. You see, I collect it too.

What you have is the Revere Ware Limited Edition Copper Cookware circa 1976. It was a big promotion for the bicentennial and lasted only a few years afterward. I suppose that it was to harken back to the time when the real Paul Revere was a silver and coppersmith.

Sure, it’s not in the same caliber as the super pricey stuff and here’s why. The appeal for the fine copper is its thickness. Thickness means that it retains and distributes heat beautifully.

The Revere copper is thinner and can cause the heat distribution to be spotty and even burn if not watched. BUT, here is what I love about it. It’s lined with stainless steel. The expensive copper is traditionally lined with tin. Over time, the tin will wear down in spots and cause your food to have a metallic taste. It’s hard to find a knowledgeable person to reline with tin and it’s expensive.

So the stainless steel is a big plus. I’ve found that the copper cookware that does have the brass handles AND is made in Korea, China and Thailand is utter rubbish and you shouldn’t waste your money on it. So, to that degree, the podcaster was correct.

This Revere Copper is not the greatest but it sure beats most the stuff in stores today. I guess that you’ve been picking this up at antique and junk stores during your travels?

You’ll be shocked when you look online. Even without boxes and labels — collectors go crazy over boxes and labels — you’ll discover that these pieces sell for $25 to $50 and up! A complete set, including the tea kettle, will set you back about $275.

The piece you showed me will retail for about $40. It’s good stuff. Keep collecting and using it. Just avoid the Oriental junk. All of this Revere ware limited edition copper is marked under the handle. So you can identify it easily. Great question and thanks for sharing.