In April 1775, Paul Revere told three patriots to hang two large vintage metal lanterns in the steeple of the Old North Church in the North End of Boston. Little did he know that his message of “One if by land, two if by sea” would be immortalized for centuries to come in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, Paul Revere’s Ride. One lantern was to notify Charlestown that the British Army was marching over the Great Bridge and two lanterns meant that the troops were taking boats across the Charles River. The method of hanging metal lanterns seemed to be the fastest way to inform the Boston troops so that they would be prepared for battle. The lanterns were large so two men carried one lantern each up to the steeple while a third man stood watch for British troops outside the Church. The two men were instructed to hang the lanterns for just under a minute to avoid the British from seeing but it was long enough for those in Charlestown to get the message.
Large Vintage Metal Lanterns
Now that’s a lot to go through to describe these large vintage lanterns. But there is a method to my madness. We know that the story of Paul Revere ended with hanging two large lanterns in the steeple. The British came by sea and unfortunately, Paul Revere was captured after his midnight ride. But the whereabouts of the actual lanterns that were hung is not entirely clear. It is believed that one is held by a private collector and the other one broke while on a tour of vintage artifacts. But I like to believe that I stumbled upon the two infamous lanterns while surfing through my own pile of vintage treasures. They are big enough to be the lanterns and the style of the metal frame fits the period. So why not let me think they are the actual lanterns that were hung in the Old North Church steeple. Two if by sea, why not.