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Editors note: This information is provided by the Pewter Guild of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, Münich, Germany.

You may view the original German text here]

Schweizer Pewter Ornaments

from Diessen near Munich-

considered Europe's finest.

Click here to see his products

A Pewter Primer

Kuehn Pewter Gifts

from Koenigsbrunn

near Augsburg-

ornaments and jewelry

Click here to see her  products

 

Tin as Pewter is one of the oldest metals known to Man. He has made use of it for about five millennia. Tin alloyed with copper gave its name to the Bronze Age.  In the Middle Ages, when there were still rich ore deposits in the mountains, pewter tableware displaced the earthen and wooden plates and dishes from castle and farm keeps. Thus, the use of Pewter at the dinner table has been well known for centuries.

Today in many restaurants, meals and beverages are again served on pewter. You should try it at home! Give pewter plates and dishes a try in the traditional way: with sausage and sauerkraut, bread and cheese, and roasted meat. Beer and wine from pewter cups and mugs tastes wonderfully fresh and cool. Pewter enhances the flavor. And delightful smells from coffee and tea waft from the pewter cups, which hold the heat for quite some time.

 

The pewter ware on your table will create a festive atmosphere and will of course make you the talk of the town! Tin plates and tin cups have a unique tone and will bring comfort and warmth into your home.

 

High-quality Pewter carries the handicraft seal

 

With today’s large pewter assortment, it is not easy to make the correct choice. In order to help the customer make an educated purchase, the Pewter Guild has created a mark of quality, the Handicraft Seal.

This seal guarantees that the pewter product is appropriate for food and drink and follows the recommended manufacturing process (DIN17810). It guarantees that the products conform to the highest standards. Our Master workshops strive for such high quality.

 

With this seal the buyer can be assured they receive a high-quality and consistent pewter product. The seal indicates a product you can trust – always look on the bottom of your purchase. That is where you will find the handicraft seal of the Pewter Guild!

 

Good Pewter, a value for generations

 

If one knows that cans, baking and cooking utensils are plated, one easily realizes that high quality pewterware is useful for meals and beverages. Pewter does not smell nor leave an aftertaste.

Unfortunately, in the last few years some foreign manufacturers tried to offer so-called “pewter utensils” as cheaply as possible and utilized materials that did not correspond to the requirements of the German food and consumer articles law. The designation regulation RAL- RG 683 (Committee for terms of delivery and quality assurance) meant that the term “pewter” may be only used with a minimum content of 90% tin. Less than 90% and the product may be designated “pewter alloy”, and it cannot be used for the manufacture of utensils.

Our guild is committed to DIN standard 17810 and sets a substantially stricter standard by actually excluding any mixture of harmful materials.

Tin has a natural flat-silvery color. In the course of the time and utilization a darkening occurs from air oxidation. Connoisseurs prize this natural patina, since it radiates a pleasant warmth. An artificial, chemically caused patina can create a prematurely antique appearance. While this does not by any means increase the utensil value, it does go to a personal taste.

Normally pewter manufacturers do not mass-produce items for sale. Yet, our customers can secure specific patterns years later. If you want to complete your service and/or its collection piece by piece, then the addition is usually not a problem.

Actually, pewter is a special gift for many occasions, as with a monogram or a personal engraving for honours, anniversaries, and weddings. Such things provide value and beauty from year to year, awakening memories and bequeathing a proud family asset from generation to generation.

 

Pewter marks and stamps

In the 14th and 15th Centuries, the marks of quality were etched into the finished Pewter by certified examiners. The city character and the appropriate master character were usually stamped together. Later the pewter casters marked their products themselves, and the guilds realized the need for alloy regulations. By this time, special quality characters were developed for good pewter, e.g. the marks with Rose and Crown and starting from the beginning of the 18th Century the now recognized Angel Stamp. This angel, usually with balance and sword, should represent the ore angel Michael - a symbol of justice.

 

With tradition in mind, pewter manufacturers continue to use the old marks along with the Firms initials or names as labels. The use of the angel stamp is not controlled, so unfortunately manufacturers attach this indicator to goods which only contain only a plating of pewter. Such articles are often presented as "Pewter ornament" or "Pewter decoration". However, this is not permissible under regulation RAL-RG 683.

 

Therefore, in the year 1973, the Pewter guild created their hand-made seal as a new character of high-quality Pewter.

 

Pewter Styles

One sees in today’s shop windows and shelves Pewter from strange manufacturers and often in confusing combinations of style and variety. Handles and covers of several kinds of style are combined. Rightfully, the fastidious customer demands style continuity as well as good quality.

 

As with all handcrafted products, Pewter has been subjected to changes in style. However a strict temporal separation is not possible, as one sees with architecture or painting.

 

Since the preparation of the molds was complex and expensive, Pewter casters used their forms for a very long time, so that the transitions often flow into new styles. Some our expert craft studios have a rich assortment from earlier centuries. Therefore, the original styles can also be reproduced today. Thus, our masters maintain a purity in style even as they maintain and restore antique pewter pieces. In the last few years Master studios of note – in cooperation with well-known designers - have created functional, imaginative, and up-to-date pewter designs.

 

In order to get a better sense of typical style characteristics, the following overview should help. And of course our guild enterprises are more then happy to advise you.

 

Gothic 1200-1450

 

Gothic- Smooth compact forms with usually broad spaces, base is a little partitioned, beside bulbous drink and gift containers other table-ware is not well-known, ornamental art limited to just handle ornaments.

 

Renaissance 1500-1630

 

 

Renaissance- Initially, adorned with figure-like and ornamental reliefs, later smoother bases and wide-rimmed plates often with rich engravings. Typical is the so-called "Nürnberger noble tin".

Baroque 1650-1750

 

Baroque- smoother and stricter forms, few were adorned, e.g. with hammered “Punzenmustern”- body partitioned by frugal but powerful rib-like decorations.

Rococo 1750-1780

 

Rokoko- Forms similar to baroque, however more simple, lively, and with playful wavy, asymmetrical ribs- silver table-ware themes are often quite similar.

Emprie 1790-1810

 

Empire- Classicism and so-called ‘Louis Seize’ with strong outlines, a bit dependent to the Antique ones, French influence, with etched Frieze banding, ribs of Akanthus, rings of Oak leaves, pearl lacing, fruit and flower pendants, can be partly hand-painted.

Biedermeier 1815-1850

 

 

BiederMeier- Fundamentally similar to Baroque and Empire, however much simpler and without ornaments.  Very tasteful table-ware.

Historismus 1875-1890

 

 

Historicism- Also called ‘AltDeutsch’ or ‘Makartstil’. Basic forms taken from many crafting styles, but primarily the Renaissance, and usually present with Relief ornamental art, often engraved with representations of figures.

Jugendstil 1895-1910

 

Jugendstil- Also called Art Nouveau.  Body is often asymmetrically decorated with light plastic graphic decorations. A realistic plant and animal collections which served as handles. Multiple forms and shapes from noteworthy artists of the time. Typical is the so-named Kayser pewter.

 

 

 

Present Day- Starting from approximately 1920 very strict, nearly geometrical forms, clear, business like, functional, most frugal ornamental art. Surfaces sometimes irregularly roughened up, simple polished decoration through various colored tones (e.g., high polish, matte or dark gloss) discontinuous planes.

 

Canning and Pewter Caster Guilds

 

Pewter is found in the oldest literary documents of mankind. Homer mentions it, and the Roman poet Plautus writes in his comedies that meals were served in pewter containers. However, only fragments of this type of pewter have been found in excavations. The first whole pewterware originated from the 2nd to 4th Century AD. These were found in England, where the most productive Tin mines of Europe were found. Pewter became certified in the 9th Century (along with gold and silver) as material for church decor. Starting from the 14th Century, pewter as tableware became more generally accepted in middle-class households.

 

At this time the first guilds for artists, unions, offices and mines were mentioned. A reason for the trend was the necessity to protect against the competition which resulted from the craftsman in serfdom or from large numbers flocking from the villages into the cities. There were already unions of craftsmen though they were this combinations of several related occupations (smiths, bell caster, clockmakers and in the textiles).

 

When and where the first independent pewter caster or cannery developed cannot be proven. The eloquent preacher Abraham A Santa Clara (1698) could express: "the work and the handicraft of these people are very clean, good and useful, but of there beginnings, even they do not know.