Pewter, an alloy of copper and tin or lead, was the staple domesticware for five centuries, from the 1300s to the 1830s. Pewter was widely used in everything, including cutlery and tanksards. It fell out fashion after the introduction mechanised silver-plating. But it has been revived again by handicraft-oriented Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau movements. Although most antique pewter will have some sort of mark, it may vary according to its age.
- A mixture of lead and copper, pewter is a common domestic item for over five centuries, from the 1300s up to the 1830s.
Check the outer edges of pewter plates as well as the handles on old tankards or ale-pots. You will find impressed initials, which are the stamp or touch mark of a registered pewterer. From the 1500s to the 1800s, they were simple at first, and then became more complicated over time.
Check the base for any other markings. An X and the “superfine” words might be found on early pieces. These are both indications of highest quality pewter. The mark rose and crown was used on English exportwares during the 1700s. Items used to measure were assigned a code number and various regional emblems in the 19th century.
In particular, look out for the maker’s mark on pieces later than that, particularly if they have strong, commercial designs. Particularly, pay attention to the Liberty’s name and W.M.F. The London shop Liberty’s made stylish pewter according to Arts and Crafts methods under the Tudric name. The store names, brand names, and occasionally the phrase “English Pewter” are all stamped on these pieces. W.M.F. is known for its Art Nouveau designs. The initials of the German company or a running Ostrich within a diamond are on each piece.
Liberty’s pewter was largely designed and crafted by Archibald Knox. Its hand-planished (that means, hand-hammered finish) is what made it stand out from other pewter. Also, the inclusion of colored enamels. W.M.F. W.M.F. is a specialist in whiplash lines as well as the seminude, or nude, female form.
Liberty’s was also able to sell a variety of silverware under Cymric’s brand. Cymric, which is more valuable than Tudric, should not be confused. Early pewter, as well as the W.M.F. products from Liberty’s are highly collectible. These items and others are very collectable. However, antique pewter between them doesn’t attract much attention at the auction houses.