Pewter is essentially tin, but to be worked it has to be mixed with other metals. In past centuries the Company laid down strict specifications for the alloy and up to the end of the eighteenth century monitored pewter manufacture throughout England. The alloy used today in pieces which display the quality touchmarks of the Association of British Pewter Craftsmen is in the range: tin 91-5% minimum, antimony 8% maximum, copper 2.5% maximum and bismuth 0-5% maximum, as determined by the European Standard for pewter. Modern pewter contains no lead.
Pewter may be fashioned in many ways: by casting in moulds of bellmetal, steel or sand, using gravity method, by centrifugal casting, using rubber or silicone moulds, by spinning, on a lathe, by pressing, rolling or hand forming. Please see the manufacture page for more information. The surface may be polished or darkened, engraved, etched or hammered. It may also be painted, enamelled or decorated. If the artefact is unsatisfactory, the metal can be melted down (at about 250C) and reused without loss of quality.
Tin, the major constituent of pewter, is produced from tin ore, the major source of supply being the Far East and South America. Tin is completely non-toxic, melts at a relatively low temperature (232C), has very good fluidity when molten, has good formability, and readily forms alloys with other metals. It is a relatively soft metal and it is for this reason that it is alloyed with other constituents before being used in the form of pewter.
The Pewterers' Company has a fine representative collection of British pewter including many pieces of historical importance and items of quality contemporary pewterware.
Cleaning & Marks: With a minimum of care, pewterware will keep its original finish. It should be washed in hot, soapy water or in a mild detergent solution and dried with a soft cloth. If, through neglect, pewter takes on a patina, the original finish can be restored by polishing with a non-abrasive metal polish. Dishwashers are not recommended due to the very high temperatures and rather strong detergents used. The Pewter Society maintains a page devoted to the care of pewter: www.pewtersociety.org Pewter Marks Pewter marks or touches can be informative and rewarding or complicated and frustrating! Sometimes there are none at all; sometimes one can tell the maker, the place of manufacture and the year from the touchmarks. Originally all touchmarks were kept at Pewterers' Hall on large lead touchplates. These melted in the Great Fire and the ones used after 1666 are now kept at Guildhall for safekeeping. The habit of touching died out as the trade diminished from the 18th Century and the power of the Company to control quality also waned. Recently, however, the tradition has been revived and with it the ability to identify modern pewter with some degree of confidence.
For news and information about Pewter there is an online publication 'The Pewterer' click HERE to view
Please note the Worshipful Company of Pewterers does NOT accept enquiries regarding pewter marks or repairs.
For Pewter marks please contact: The Pewter Society : www.pewtersociety.org
The Pewter Society has detailed information on pewterers' marks, verification marks. ownership marks and merchants' marks.
For Repairs please contact AE Williams: www.pewtergiftware.com