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Pewter FAQ - what is pewter, what's it made of, how is it made etc PDF Print E-mail

What is pewter?
Pewter, the perfect choice!
For centuries pewter has had an honoured place in human society. It was popular throughout Europe and came to Africa with the earliest colonists. Then, as now, pewter was cherished for its versatility, durability, and beauty.
If you are planning a pewter purchase for yourself or as a gift for someone special, we know you may have some questions. We hope this page will answer those questions for you. We want choosing your pewter to be the happy experience it is meant to be.

Does pewter tarnish?
Pewter does not tarnish the way silver and copper tarnish. Like all metals, pewter does oxidize when exposed to air. But, unlike other metals, pewter oxidizes very slowly and evenly. This gentle "oxidation" means your pewter gradually develops the soft warm patina that adds so much to its lasting charm.

Can I cook in pewter?
Pewter is an ideal serving vessel for food and beverage, but it should not be used for cooking. It has a relatively low melting point and should not be brought in direct contact with a source of heat, such as an open flame, a stove, a microwave, or an oven. Pewter is so beautiful and versatile as a serving or decorative piece that its use is limited only by your imagination.

What is the difference between the "shiny" and the "dull" pewter?
There is no difference in the pewter's composition, only in how the individual piece is finished. "Bright" or "shiny." Pewter is polished or buffed with special jewellers' rouges to produce the mirror-like surface. The satin finish is a softer, more mellow patina often associated with antique pewter. The choice of "bright" or "satin" pewter is truly a matter of your personal taste.

What is pewter made of?
Pewter is a tin-based alloy that has been used for centuries. Modern pewter alloys are composed of at least 90% tin, with small amounts of copper and antimony.
Modem pewter, known as Britannia metal, contains no lead and is safe to use around food. Pewter may be used as liquid metal to cast the desired forms or it may be rolled into thin sheets for fabrication. Today's pewter is an attractive white or silvery colour. It is both practical and decorative, which accounts for its universal appeal.

What are pewter look-alikes?
Because pewter is so genuinely popular, there are manufacturers who try -to take advantage of its appeal. They usually offer substitutes made from lesser metal. The most common substitute is an aluminum alloy which is much lighter in weight with. a. rough and porous surface. Such look-alikes lack pewter's lasting beauty and intrinsic value. Insist on genuine pewter by asking to see the "touchmark." Pewterers have a long tradition of marking their pieces with their own distinctive "touchmarks" to help you identify their work.

How is pewter made?
Pewter is made in a variety of ways. Each technique reflects the individual pewterer's skills. Artisans train for many years and tend to specialize in one technique. Some cast their pieces by pouring molten pewter. They often use moulds which are more that one hundred years old They then finish their pieces by jointing the castings together and turning them on a lathe. Artisans who "spin" their pewter force flat circular disks of rolled pewter over a wood or metal chuck mounted on a lathe. They use highly specialized tools to bend the pewter into the desired shape. Then they finish their pieces by polishing or bulling.

Today some pewterers even use presses and skillfully made dies to create pieces in greater quantity and with consistent quality. Still, others practice modern centrifugal casting techniques using rubber moulds. Rubber moulds are particularly useful for creating the finely detailed figurines and ornaments which are so popular with today's collectors.

What is the value of Pewter?
A piece of pewter reflects a number of variables: the number of steps, the degree of skill, and the quantity of metal required. Pewter is considered the fourth most valuable metal in common use, after platinum, gold, and silver. Despite all the modern manufacturing breakthroughs, pewter still requires a great deal of hand craftsmanship. What is truly amazing is that craftsmen can so consistently produce pieces with only minor variations; it is these slight variations which are so much a part of pewter's charm.

How do I care for my pewter?
Pewter benefits from handling, so the first rule in caring for your pewter is to USE IT. Handling is what gives your pewter its distinctive patina. After each use, hand wash your pewter in warm soap and water, and rub with a good drying towel. We do not recommend putting your pewter in the dishwasher. Do not use your pewter as a food storage container. With very little care, your pewter will retain its beautiful luster for many years.

Can pewter be engraved?
Pewter engraves beautifully. And engraving makes an individual piece more personal and memorable. Initials, monograms, dates, awards, symbols, or your most meaningful personal inscriptions can all be engraved on your pewter. Engraved pewter is a favorite for weddings, christenings, graduations, promotions, thank-you, retirements, trophies, and public presentations and gifts. There are almost as many ways to engrave your pewter as there are reasons to give it.

What does pewter mean?
The word pewter is probably a variant of the word spelter, a non-scientific name for zinc.
 


Hopefully these pewter questions have helped you understand a bit more about pewter and pewter products.