See L. L. Laughlin, Pewter in America (1969); and H. J. Kauffman, The American Pewterer (1970); C. F. Montgomery, A History of American Pewter (1973).
Tin-based alloy used to make domestic utensils. Pewter dates back at least 2,000 years, to Roman times. Ancient pewter contained about 70percnt tin and 30percnt lead. Such pewter, also called black metal, darkened greatly with age, and the lead readily leached out in contact with acidic foods. Pewter with little or no lead is of finer quality, and alloys that include antimony and bismuth are more durable and shinier. Modern pewter is about 91percnt tin, 7.5percnt antimony, and 1.5percnt copper; the absence of lead makes it safe to use for foods and beverages. The surface of modern pewter is bluish white with either a bright finish or a soft, satin sheen. It resists tarnish, retaining its colour and finish indefinitely.
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Pewter is a metal alloy, traditionally between 85 and 99 percent tin, with the remainder consisting of copper and antimony, acting as hardeners, with the addition of lead for the lower grades of pewter, which have a bluish tint. The word pewter is probably a variation of the word spelter, a non-scientific name for zinc.
Unlidded mugs and lidded tankards may be the most familiar pewter artifacts from the late 17th and 18th centuries, although the metal is also used for many other items including porringers, plates, dishes, basins, spoons, measures, flagons, communion cups, teapots, sugarbowls, beer steins and cream jugs. In the early 19th century, changes of fashion witnessed a decline in the use of pewter flatware, but increased production of both cast and spun pewter tea sets, whale-oil lamps, candlesticks, etc. Later in the century, pewter alloys were often used as a base metal for silver-plated objects.
Today, pewter is mainly used in decorative objects, namely collectible statuettes and figurines, replica coins, pendants, etc.
Contrary to urban legend, the use of lead-containing pewter tableware was unrelated to the mistrust of tomatoes as a foodstuff in Northern Europe during the 16th century .