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Pewter

Pewter (/ˈpjuːtər/) is a malleable metal alloy. It is traditionally composed of 85–99% tin, mixed with
copper, antimony, bismuth, and sometimes silver or lead, although the use of lead is less common
today. Copper and antimony act as hardeners while lead is more common in the lower grades of
pewter, which have a bluish tint. Pewter has a low melting point, around 170–230 °C (338–446 °F),
depending on the exact mixture of metals.[1] The word pewter is probably a variation of the word
spelter, a term for zinc alloys (originally a colloquial name for zinc).[2]

Contents
History
Types
Uses
See also
Notes
References
External links

History
Pewter was first used around the beginning of the Bronze Age in the Near East. The earliest piece of
pewter found is from anEgyptian tomb from 1450 BC.[3]
Detail on a pewter
fork handle from
Types Norway, showing
three scenes: King
The constituents of pewter were first controlled in the
Olaf II of Norway, his
12th century by town guilds in France. By the 15th men, and a Viking
century, the Worshipful Company of Pewterers ship
controlled pewter constituents in England. This
company originally had two grades of pewter, but in
the 16th century a third grade was added. The first type, known as "fine metal", was
used for tableware. It consisted of tin with as much copper as it could absorb, which
is about 1%. The second type, known as "trifling metal" or "trifle", was used for
holloware and is made up of fine metal with approximately 4% lead. The last type of
pewter, known as "lay" or "ley" metal, was used for items that were not in contact
with food or drink. It consisted of tin with 15% lead. These three alloys were used
with little variation until the 20th century.[3]

Older pewters with higher lead content are heavier, tarnish faster, and oxidation
Pieces of pewter
gives them a darker silver-gray color.[4] Pewters containing lead are no longer used
in items that will come in contact with the human body (such as cups, plates, or
jewelry) due to health concerns stemming from the lead content. Modern pewters are available that are completely free of lead,
although many pewters containing lead are still being produced for other purposes.
A typical European casting alloy contains 94% tin, 1% copper, and 5% antimony. A European pewter sheet would contain 92% tin,
2% copper, and 6% antimony. Asian pewter, produced mostly in Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand, contains a higher percentage of
tin, usually 97.5% tin, 1% copper, and 1.5% antimony. This makes the alloy slightly softer.[3]

, and silica.[5]
So-called "Mexican pewter" is an alloy of aluminum, copper

Uses
Pewter was used for decorative metal items and tableware in the Ancient World by the Egyptians and later the Romans, and came
into extensive use in Europe from the Middle Ages[6] until the various developments in pottery and glass-making during the 18th and
19th centuries. Pewter was the chief material for producing plates, cups, and bowls until the making of porcelain. Mass production of
pottery, porcelain and glass products has seen pewter universally replaced in daily life. Pewter artifacts continue to be produced,
mainly as decorative or specialty items. Pewter was also used around East Asia. Although some items still exist,[7] Ancient Roman
pewter is rare.[8]

"Unlidded" mugs and lidded tankards may be the most familiar pewter artifacts from the late 17th and 18th centuries, although the
metal was also used for many other items including porringers, plates, dishes, basins, spoons, measures, flagons, communion cups,
teapots, sugar bowls, beer steins, and cream jugs. In the early 19th century, changes in fashion caused a decline in the use of pewter
flatware. At the same time, production increased of both cast and spun pewter tea sets, whale-oil lamps, candlesticks, and so on. Later
in the century, pewter alloys were often used as a base metal forsilver-plated objects.

In the late 19th century, pewter came back into fashion with the revival of medieval objects for decoration. New replicas of medieval
pewter objects were created, and collected for decoration. Today, pewter is used in decorative objects, mainly collectible statuettes
and figurines, game figures, aircraft and other models, (replica) coins, pendants, plated jewellery and so on. Certain athletic contests,
such as the United States Figure Skating Championships, award pewter medals to fourth-place finishers.[9]

Pewter plate Pewter vase

See also
Britannia metal
English pewter
Royal Selangor
Spin casting

Notes
1. Campbell 2006, p. 207.
2. Skeat 1893, pp. 438–439.
3. Hull 1992, p. 4.
4. "WHERE LEAD HIDES"(http://hydra.usc.edu/scehsc/pdfs/D-1-3-2%20Where%20Lead%20Hides.pdf)
(PDF).
Retrieved 2016-10-06.
5. "Handcast Aluminum Pewter - Hecho en Mexico"(http://www.adip.info/2000_2001/dec/07_pewter.php). Another Day
In Paradise. December 2000. Retrieved 2018-01-08.
6. What is pewter? (http://www.pewtersociety.org/pewter/what-is-pewter/)– The Pewter Society
7. A Roman Pewter Hoard from Appleford, Berks.(http://oxoniensia.org/volumes/1973/brown1.pdf)
, by David Brown
8. Government Auctions UK(https://archive.is/20150414145614/http://governmentauctionsuk.com/antique-auction-guid
es/pewter)
9. Frogs On Ice – SkateWeb: FAQ Q17 (http://www.frogsonice.com/skateweb/faq/rules.shtml#Q17)

References
Skeat, Walter William (1893), An etymological dictionary of the English language(2nd ed.), Clarendon Press.
Campbell, Gordon (2006),The Grove encyclopedia of decorative arts(illustrated ed.), Oxford University Press,
ISBN 978-0-19-518948-3.
Hull, Charles (1992), Pewter, Osprey Publishing, ISBN 978-0-7478-0152-8.

External links
PewterBank
"Pewter". Encyclopædia Britannica(11th ed.). 1911.

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