Hammered Pewter: A Trend on the Upswing

Pewter items are functional and are once again becoming a popular collectible.

What is pewter?
Pewter is a handsome “poor man’s silver” containing mostly tin elements. Other metals (antimony, bismuth and copper) are added in small amounts to add strength. Prior to the 1760s, cheaper pewter wares also contained lead.

Many different processes and techniques can be used to create and decorate pewter objects. It can be cast, spun, pressed, rolled or shaped by hand. Casting is the oldest and perhaps most common method of forming objects from pewter because it has a lower melting temperature. It can be melted down and recycled without causing deterioration in the quality of the metal.

The surface may be polished or darkened, engraved, etched or hammered. Pewter that looks like it’s been hammered has an uneven surface finish.  Martele, a French term for “hammered”, is used to describe the decorative effect of the honeycomb-patterned facets left on an object by the planishing hammer. This surface was favored in the second half of the nineteenth and early part of the twentieth centuries.

With a minimum of care, pewter will keep its original finish. It should be washed in hot, soapy water or in a mild detergent solution and dried with a soft cloth.

Samples of Hammered Pewter available at Robertson Gallery & Antiques

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Filed under Knowledge/History of Antique Item

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