This article contains information, which will help you to take care of your pewter collectibles so that they can continue to give you pleasure for years to come.
For centuries, pewter has had an honored place in human society. It was popular throughout Europe and came to America with the colonists. Then, as now, Pewter was cherished for its versatility, durability, and beauty.
Unlike silver and copper, pewter does not tarnish. However, like all metals, pewter does oxidize when exposed to air. But, unlike other metals, pewter oxidizes very slowly and evenly. This gentle "oxidation" means your pewter gradually develops the soft warm patina that adds so much to its lasting charm.
Be careful when purchasing your pewter:
Because pewter is so genuinely popular, there are manufacturers who try to take advantage of its appeal. They usually offer substitutes made from lesser metal. The most common substitute is an aluminium alloy which is much lighter in weight with a rough and porous surface. Such look-alikes lack pewter's lasting beauty and intrinsic value. Insist on genuine pewter by asking to see the "touchmark." Pewterers have a long tradition of marking their pieces with their own distinctive "touchmarks" to help you identify their work.
Did you know that pewter is considered the fourth most popular metal after platinum, gold and silver?
A piece of pewter reflects a number of variables: the number of steps, the degree of skill, and the quantity of metal required. Pewter is considered the fourth most valuable metal in common use, right after platinum, gold, and silver. Despite all the modem manufacturing breakthroughs, pewter still requires a great deal of hand craftsmanship. What is truly amazing is that craftsmen can so consistently produce pieces with only mirror variations; it is these slight variations which are so much a part of pewter's charm. If you are new to pewter collecting we know that you may have some questions. This page seeks to answer some of the questions that you may have.
How are pewter ornaments & figurines made?
Pewter is made in a variety of ways. Each technique reflects the individual Pewterer's skills. Artisans train for many years and tend to specialize in one technique. Some cast their pieces by pouring molten pewter. They often use molds which are more than one hundred years old. They then finish their pieces by jointing the castings together and turning them on a lathe. Artisans who "spin" their pewter force flat circular disks of rolled pewter over a wood or metal chuck mounted on a lathe. They use highly specialized tools to bend the pewter into the desired shape. Then they finish their pieces by polishing or bulling. Today some Pewterers even use presses and skillfully made dies to create pieces in greater quantity and with consistent quality. Still, others practice modern centrifugal casting techniques using rubber molds. Rubber melds are particularly useful for creating the finely detailed figurines and ornaments which are so popular with today's collectors.
How do I clean my pewter ornament or figurine?
Because pewter benefits from handling it's perfectly fine to go ahead and touch and admire your ornament or figurine as much as you want. Handling is what gives your pewter its distinctive patina. To remove fingerprints simply buff the pewter with a white cloth. With very little care, your pewter will retain its beautiful luster for many years.
Can I repair my pewter collectible?
You can remove surface scratches and minor blemishes on satin finished pewter yourself. Using a fine steel wool or a softened "Scotch Brite™" pad, simply blend the scratch into the pewter's satin finish. For shiny pewter use a soft dry chamois to rub gently on the blemish. Because pewter is a malleable metal even dents and accidental bends can often be repaired. Pits left by unexpected mineral deposits from water, chemicals or some foods can sometimes be removed by professional buffing with specialized power equipment.