8 January 2015

British Pewter

Pewter has a long and proud history in Britain. It is a metal alloy, a mix of about 96% tin with traces of copper, antimony and silver. Its excellent malleable nature has been harnessed for thousands of years, introduced by the Romans to Britain around the 2nd century AD using tin mined in Cornwall.

In the centuries that followed, most of the pewter made here was for the church, and by the 12th century tiny exquisite pewter badges were cast for the pilgrimages to Canterbury, Walsingham, Windsor, to name a few. Pewter was used to make chalices, patens and spoons for ceremonial use, but the versatility of this alloy was soon recognised by the broader society. Wealthy merchant classes wanted their plates made of pewter, and for a while it was a certain status symbol.  By the 14th century domestic pewter was being widely used and most towns had pewter workshops. The Worshipful Company of Pewterers was founded in 1474 to oversee the quality of the pewterers’ work and their conduct. This livery company is still in the city of London, and has a fine representative collection of British pewter including many pieces of historical importance as well as high quality contemporary pieces.

The late 15th to 17th centuries became the “Golden Age” of British pewter – the simple but stunning designs combined with the soft, subtle colour appealed to many.  Most of today’s collectors adore the plates, flagons, spoons, cups, chargers and candlesticks that were produced during this time - some are very rare; all are collectable. Unlidded mugs and lidded tankards may be the most familiar pewter artefacts from the late 17th and 18th centuries. By the 18th century pewter would have been found in every household, no longer exclusive to wealthy merchants, nobles and church officials.

The Industrial Revolution and the arrival of ceramics from Holland and the Far East in the 18th century heralded a decline in popularity and the manufacture of pewter. The industry shrank and this once highly desirable metal was banished to the taverns. Pewter tankards and measures were still being used in pubs as late as the 1930s.

Pewter saw some revival in popularity in the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods and is still being produced today. Modern British pewter continues to be prized across the globe for fine craftsmanship, practicality and high design standards.

Below are some fine examples of British pewter from Jane Stewart’s extensive collection which can be viewed in her two showcases FS05 and FS06 located in the basement of the MewsJane Stewart is a member of The Pewter Society and has been dealing in pewter since 1981. She is a respected and long established dealer at Grays and has gained a reputation for fine quality pewter from the 15th century to the present day. We are proud to have her expertise in house.  All items on display in showcases FS05 and FS06 can be purchased at the reception.

Selection of pewter in showcase FS05. Offered by Jane Stewart
Wavy edged pewter plate with noble crest, late 18th century. Offered by Jane Stewart
Pewter wine funnel with a hook, c.1790s. Offered by Jane Stewart
Half pint pewter tankard with curvy handle, c.1820s. Offered by Jane Stewart
Pewter sprinklers for pepper and spices, c.1790s-1820s. Offered by Jane Stewart

For more information or to book an appointment with Jane Stewart contact her directly:
Phone: +44 7767 685 049
Email:  francoise.jane@gmail.com

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...