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).
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 .