American Pewter

Written by Beth Hrusch
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American pewter has reflected the unique style of the colonies since this metal alloy was first introduced from England in the 16th century. Prior to that time, this metal was quite popular in Europe for its practical applications. It was widely used to make house wares and utensils. In America, pewter became prized not only for its utility but its beauty. It was a component in many household items both practical and decorative.

American Pewter Has Unique Style

In the American colonies there were few pewtersmiths prior to the 18th century. The earliest examples of pewter in America were for the most part copies of English designs. Often, due to the high costs of pewter metals, these pieces were simply reworked from damaged items. The scarcity of quality craftsmen and affordable materials limited the creativity of the pewter pieces. Pewter in America had not yet come into its own.

By the time of the American Revolution, however, high demand and the pressures of the war with England started to affect the American pewter industry. The new middle class wanted to express their success with fine quality house wares reflective of their good taste. Pewter was the natural choice for the making of such wares. Made of tin, antimony and copper, it was malleable and easy to detail. Its luster gave it the look of fine silver without the tendency to tarnish.

American pewter pieces then and now reflect the diversity of colonial style. They are often highly decorated with intricate detailing. However, another popular trend is toward the simplicity of the early American designs. Pewter often presents itself best in the smooth lines of a tankard or set of utensils. Its rich patina is instantly recognizable and highly prized in today's American homes.

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