Pewter's Essential Role Through Time

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Wednesday, April 03, 2024

Pewter, a tin alloy combined with copper, bismuth, antimony, or lead for durability, served a vital purpose before the 19th century. A pair of pewter candlesticks, now admired for decor, once provided essential light for reading, writing, and sewing. This malleable metal became a household staple, crafted into varied items. Controlled by the Worshipful Company of Pewterers. By the 15th century, English pewter became the country's second most vital export after cloth.
 
Pewter artifacts spanned domestic use, from pepper pots to chamber pots, spoons to snuff boxes. Surgeons even utilised pewter for bleeding bowls and syringes. Churches required pewter for wine flagons, chalices, and organ pipes, while public houses used it for tankards, pint pots, and spirit measures.
 
In the 17th century's twilight, the industry thrived, particularly in London, Wigan, and York. However, competition from brass, tinplate, and porcelain, coupled with the Worshipful Company of Pewterers' resistance to innovation, led to a decline in the London trade. Bewdley and Wribbenhall emerged as 18th-century manufacturing hubs, highlighting pewter's enduring significance and evolution through time.
 
What we have in store for you in our collection is this small example of pewter in the form of a 17th century French candlestick. Have a look at our antique metalware section for details.