Archive for Table & Dining


Posted in Antiques, Tracking the Marvelous with tags , , , on May 20, 2009 by dutchnduchess

pewterRanking number 4 on the Top Ten Antiques to Buy in Belgium, pewter takes a special place in my heart. My father was passionate about collecting and  I came to know it and love it through him. Pewter is a combination of two metals that has been has been used for table service since dining utensils and  plates were begun to be used.  Often pewter is  the base metal for silver and silverplated items, a variety of vessels are collected not unlike those designed of silver such as tankards, tea and coffee sets, platters , plates  not to mention common utilitarian items for cooking or ingesting food,  or creating medicinal potions and soups in the field during harvest or wartimes and innocence of keeping soften foods warm enough  for baby bunting.

 Age and patina
The easiest way to determine old pewter is to search for stamps that give a variety of clues depending on the item and the age. If the bottom already says  ‘etain’   or 96% whatever, or has a modern company name on it–give it up. It’s made yesterday. 

You want to find a stamped rose with a rise in the metal with clear edges that in the trade, ‘stand proud’  and are not soft and rounded which  usually shouts fake. Look for symbols that signify certain places, assay offices, years or factories without using words.  Special books with page after page of symbols and codes for various countries are necessary to pinpoint the origin of older patinized pewter or ‘tin’ [Dutch] or Etain [French pieces.  

Paired with patinized oak, pewter looks very aristocratic in modern households and takes one back to simpler times when mealtimes and families gathered without distractions such as ipods, tv’s sports clubs or other technologies that connect us in distance but separate us  the immediate environment- like  two people in a car and both on the cell phone.  Pewter is relatively soft metal and therefore prone to scratches from knife marks and rim ripples from  common and practical usage. Aged pewter has a warmth in the patina that looks especially nice on dark oak. Precautions
Pewter is faked profusely but it is has not been in the popular upswing for several year thus while experts can spot signs of falsehood a mile away there are scrupulous and even  well meaning vendors  who are oblivious that they  are offering  fakes for  unreasonable asking prices and coversely those who ask low prices for really old and valuable pewter!  Information is power and before any purchases are made, I suggest you visit a few exhibitions and ask a lot of questions while literally holding the good stuff in hand and getting a feel for the mark, the color and form that leads to it unmistakeable beauty only found in the authentic patinized examples of pewter.


The rarest pieces are found from the time period around Rembrandt and the newest are well marked on the bottom with all kinds of finishing suitable for dishwashing.
Americans think immediately of Paul Revere and the days of the Revolution but pewter was a vital part of the pub and familial social scene. Even  today with new metals that mimic pewter and can be used in the dishwasher.  Getting back to the antique sort, …..although it has a simple elegance, historically it was a commonly in  daily use as evidenced in the rollicking good times depicted in quaint outdoors gatherings in Frans Hals paintings.  Pewter vessels, plates, spoons, serving utensils , embossed or repousse plates , rigglework decoration are prized items to the collector., curator and decorator alike.