Oh, you thought I was going to list all those famous celebrities who use Crane stationery? Sorry, but I’m not going there.
But as a historian, I have my own Crane’s Celebrity A-List.
Back in 1770 – that’s two years after Boston was invaded by the British – Daniel Vose, a shipping magnate; a man by the name of Lewis, whom we know nothing about; and 23-year-old papermaker Stephen Crane took over what had been the first paper mill in Massachusetts in the Boston suburb of Milton. You might guess their political leanings, as they named their business The Liberty Paper Mill.
It was here that paper was made for the newspapers and broadsides espousing the cause of American freedom. It was here that cartridge paper was made first for the Minute Men, then the Revolutionary Army. And it was here that Crane’s first currency paper was made to help finance the Revolution.
The most treasured artifact in the Crane Museum of Papermaking is the ledger book from The Liberty Paper Mill, from 1770 to 1793. Entries read like a who’s who of area printers, publishers, merchants and patriots. More than a dozen members of the Boston Tea Party, including cousin John Crane, purchased paper from the Liberty Paper Mill. I can go on and on, and someday, I’ll be able to do the research necessary to tell the whole story, but for now, here are a few members of the A-List:
Paul Revere is best known for his Midnight Ride. He was also a silversmith, and due to his engraving skills was commissioned in 1776 by The State of the Massachusetts Bay to engrave currency now known to collectors as “Sword in Hand Notes.” The paper was picked up at the Liberty Paper Mill under armed guard and delivered to Revere for his artistic touch.
Isaiah Thomas was only 21 when he began publishing The Massachusetts Spy, which strongly supported the cause of independence. The British considered Thomas so dangerous that he later recalled “he had the honor of being included with John Hancock and Samuel Adams in a list of twelve persons who were to be summarily executed when taken.” In 1775, he was forced to move his press out west to Worcester, and was able to continue publishing with paper from The Liberty Paper Mill.
Henry Knox was a Boston bookseller as the American Revolution approached. In 1775, General George Washington inspected a rampart at Roxbury designed by Knox and was instantly taken with the young man’s abilities. Knox soon became Washington’s Chief of Artillery, and earned a place in history in the winter of 1776 by carting 60 tons of captured cannon from Fort Ticonderoga in New York to Dorchester Heights, driving the British from Boston Harbor.
And to close, here’s one of my favorites. Want to guess where Paul Revere kept his horses?