Pewter the metal and its contents



Pewter as we know it has been around since about the Bronze Age.

The first piece was found in Egypt around the 1450s the metal itself in its raw form consists of mostly tin and other materials are added such as copper, lead and even sometimes silver is added to the mix.

The metal materials have a low melting point from 170% to around 240%, the temperature is different because the different mixtures used need differing heat to smelt compared to some other metals, and the word itself pewter is a variation on spelter which is also a term used for mixed zinc alloy materials.

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Pewter for the 19th c

The first constituents of the pewter world started of with two types of pewter the best being table ware pewter, this was a high content of tin and copper mixed together to give a metal hard and sturdy which was found to be easy to polish and has the silver type look the less amount of copper used the duller the metal.

Then there’s trifle pewter this contains lead in the mixture but the lead has to be of a low level as the metal is used to make items such as plates and bowls which would have contact with food.

The last of the three grades is the highest in lead and called lay metal, this pewter is not used for items that are for human consumption.

As the metal is much cheaper to make than others it has been very popular through the centuries, starting in Asia then making the route through Europe, the metal then went on to be used the world over from the Middle Ages and just like bronze pewter started losing out when the invention of porcelain paved a way for cheaper table ware etc but was still used as an alloy used for silver plated piece.

The 19th century gave birth to the newly spun pewter ware pieces due to the rise of the Industrial Age where these pieces could be made and finished off in a much quicker time with mainly finishing (hand polishing) and soldering being done by human hand.

It was the 19th century that pewter saw a revival as ancient artefacts tomb findings and other mediaeval pieces were starting to be copied and by using this cheaper form of metal pieces that would be found only in museums could be copied and bought by the every day person to adorn their homes and now there are even pewter collectors that collect mainly old antique pieces which is the same I think in most collections and brings me on to the pieces we have at Collectibulldogs.

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Unofficially this guest blogger owns England’s largest private bulldog collection at and as the owner and curator I have often wondered just how many different pieces I have in the collection made from different materials.

Pewter is a metal I have to say I do not have loads of but I do have a few I can share and I believe most originate from the USA where the raw materials are most properly cheaper than other parts of the world.

I think my pieces are made using the lay metal type of pewter, they are small in size and quite heavy which makes me think they have a high lead content but I am not a Professional in metals so cannot be sure other than I know they are pewter.

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Pewter today

Today pewter is still widely used I see it all the time in my field of collecting and in others and there are many companies out there still producing fine pewter pieces and some by using the older traditional methods to give the piece that hand made feel and most pieces you will find are like most other metals and stamped accordingly, there are no markings like you find on silverware but usually the makers name and factory where it was made instead.

If you like the pieces shown and want to see more please feel free to come and see Collectibulldogs it’s a world class collection I have put together as a nest egg for my daughters future but until then I’ve made this website free for all to see, I normally end my blogs with happy collecting but I think this time I will thank pewter world for letting me guest blog for them I hope I get asked again so till next time folks…

[supsystic-gallery id=332] has a huge range of all things pewter made and I have asked if they do bulldog gift type pieces which they will be looking into…