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Article: Pewter


History of Pewter

  • Pewter first used in the Bronze Age in the Near East
  • Earliest known piece found in an Egyptian tomb, c.1450BC
  • Used by Egyptians and Romans for decorative items and tableware
  • Extensive use in Europe from the Middle Ages until the 18th and 19th centuries
  • Decline in daily use due to mass production of pottery, porcelain, and glass

Types of Pewter

  • Antiquity pewter was tin alloyed with lead and sometimes copper
  • Older pewters with higher lead content are heavier and tarnish faster
  • Modern pewters are lead-free due to the toxicity of lead
  • Typical European casting alloy contains 94% tin, 1% copper, and 5% antimony
  • Asian pewter contains a higher percentage of tin, usually 97.5% tin, 1% copper, and 1.5% antimony

Properties of Pewter

  • Pewter can be manipulated through casting, hammering, turning, spinning, and engraving
  • Soft at room temperature, which affects the clarity of its ring
  • Hardens when cooled in liquid nitrogen, but becomes more brittle

Related Terms and Concepts

  • Britannia metal
  • English pewter
  • Spin casting
  • Solder
  • Pewtet

Additional Resources

  • Pewter Casting Alloys by Kathryn Richardson
  • Pewter by Northern Smelters
  • What is pewter? - The Pewter Society
  • How to Identify Pewter Marks by gauk Auctions
  • Competitive Figure Skating FAQ: Rules and Regulations by

Pewter Data Sources

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