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A homogeneous mixture or solid solution of two or more metals, the atoms of one replacing or occupying interstitial positions between the atoms of the other: Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc.


One of the metals that may be alloyed with tin to create pewter. First used by French pewterers in the 17th century then British pewterers in the late 17th century and by American pewterers in the 19th century. Antimony is the latest addition to the pewter alloy. Pewter, like gold, is too soft by itself to be a useful metal. Prior to the 1800's, European pewter makers added lead to the alloy to provide strength. Since crafters began to smelt their own pewter in the Americas, however, antimony has been used instead. In addition to being much safer than lead, antimony also adds a lighter finish to the alloy.


A measure with a distinctive, slightly bulbous body. Usually lidded, and often classified by the shape of the thumbpiece (eg hammerhead, bud, double volute). Very long history of use. Replaced in the 1820s by the squatter bulbous measure whose body has a much more pronounced bulge.


A narrow rim deep bowl, most often used domestically.


A narrow decorative molding resembling a row of beads 1/16" or smaller in diameter. It is formed by a beading tool, in somewhat the same manner as a pie crimper, applied with pressure against the edge of a rotating piece in a lathe. It is most often found on Philadelphia pieces with neoclassic styling. Also see Gadrooning.


A handless mug or cup. Most common is of the nineteenth century.


A flagon, c 1660-1700, with a lid that is similar in shape to a Beefeater's hat.

Bleeding bowl

A porringer-like piece for blood letting with graduation marks around the inside of the bowl. Usually has straight, rather than curved, sides.


A disk or flange-shaped extension at the top of a candlestick nozzle used to catch and retain the candle wax drippings. Most are cast with the nozzle but some are a separate casting and are removable.

Bouge (or booge)

The round wall between the well and rim of a plate or dish. Brim. The broad, flattened upper edge or rim of a plate, dish or charger surrounding the deeper body of the flatware.

Britannia Metal

A trade description for a pewter alloy containing a high proportion of antimony - typically 92% tin, 6% antimony and 2% copper. This alloy was first introduced by Sheffield manufacturers in the late 18th century and is a product of the industrial revolution. It was also known in its early days as white metal. It is stronger than other pewter alloys and thus allowed articles to be made by cold-forming the alloy in sheet form (eg by spinning or stamping) rather than by casting. NB Some earlier books assert that Britannia Metal is not pewter!


Term used to describe a particular thumb piece type frequently found on baluster measures. "Each end is a 'leafed' projection faintly like a bud, and comparable with car springs pressed together.

Bulbous measure

A round bodied, mug-like piece made in abundance during the 19th century and into the 20th century used in pubs and inns to provide varying measures of beer, ale and spirits. Usually lidless, and in sizes ranging from a gallon downward to very small pieces.


A form named after the devise used to tie a boat to a dock. In pewter, a form often found in inkwells and sanders. Common in English pewter; rare in American pewter. A salt in the general form of a capstan; in use c 1675-1700. Cartouche. A scroll-like label that may contain the pewterer's name, place or city, Hard Metal, London, or other words. See Pewter Marks.


Process whereby molten pewter is poured into a mould to form the desired article. This was the main way of forming pewter articles until the introduction of Britannia Metal allowed articles to be cold-formed from sheet metal. However, even then casting continued to be used for certain articles such as measures and pub pots, and it was also used to form the knops, handles, feet etc of articles whose bodies were made from sheet metal.

Castor Holder or Cruet Stand

A frame mounted on a flat base to hold small shaker-top bottles of salt, pepper, oil, vinegar, etc


A container (usually open) used to hold salt (corruption of 'salière').


Name used to describe a thumb piece of flagons and tankards in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.


A stemmed cup used for ecclesiastical purposes


A piece of sadware, 18 inches (460mm) or greater in diameter.

Chatter Marks

Coarse radial lines extending outward from the center on the bottoms of mugs, tankards, plates, etc., and caused by vibration of the skimming tool used in smoothing the pieces on a lathe. Chatter marks are especially pronounced on 17th and 18th century pewter skimmed on lathes with wooden bearings.


A Scottish measure with a capacity equal to a half Scots pint, or 1½ pint Imperial measure.


The slow formation of a dark layer on the surface of pewter over time. Depending on the alloy, the corrosion can range from a very thin and hard layer to thick and crusty scale.

Communion token

A piece of pewter, coin like (often round or rectangular), issued to those determined suitable to take communion.


Copper is added to pewter in trace elements (less than 2 percent) to avoid a yellowing color in pewter and generally represents a small percentage of the mix. Copper also adds an amount of ductility and flexibility.


A piece of sadware 11 to 18 inches (280 to 460 mm) in diameter.

Dome lid

Describes a flagon or tankard lid type common from c 1680 to the nineteenth century.

Double dome lid

Describes another flagon or tankard lid type. A stepped dome that gives the appearance of a smaller dome atop a larger dome.


The body of a tankard, mug, measure, or flagon.


An adjective used to describe the body form of a piece of hollowware, most often a teapot of neo-classic design. It can be used to describe the body form of a mug, tankard or flagon but these are often referred to as a tapered cylinder.

English Export Pewter

English pewter exported to America from the late 17th century through the first quarter of the 19th century. Several forms such as pear-shaped teapots and creamers, drum-shaped teapots, and sugar bowls were made specifically for the American market and are rarely found in England. At the time of the American Revolution as well as today, there are more pieces of English Export Pewter to be found in this country than pieces made by American pewterers.


Electroplated Britannia Metal.


Oxidation (corrosion) which has resulted in surface bubbles.


A narrow, slightly raised band often used around the body of a tankard, mug, measure or flagon for decoration and to strengthen the cylinder wall.


Various. The knop of a spoon; the terminal end of a handle on a tankard, mug, etc.; or the knop on the lid of a flagon, teapot or other lidded piece.


A lidded container, typically used in a church to carry wine for the sacraments. Used domestically as well.

Flat lid

As opposed to dome lid. Describes an American tankard lid type made in the 18th century but patterned on the English flat lid tankards (Stuart tankards) common from 1650 to 1700.


Name given for pewter such as plates and dishes, to distinguish it from Hollow-ware. A more modern term for sadware.


In pewter lamps, the closed reservoir which holds the liquid fuel (whale oil, cammphene, etc.). Also, a bowl-like vessel used in the Sacrament of Baptism.


"Raised cast beading, at a steep angle to the edge." (1, pg 193). A form of decorative.


A decorative cast molding resembling a row of oval-shapped beads 1/4" or so in size. In American pewter it is most often found on candlesticks made by the Meriden Britannia Manufacturing Co., Flag & Homan, and Homan & Co. A narrow rope-like type of stamped gadrooning is found on some Trask britannia pieces.Also see Beading.


A set of sadware for the table, usually a dozen of each size.


A quarter of a pint. (See also noggin.)

Gimbal or Ship's Lamp

A lamp attached to its base by a suspension device which allows it to swing freely and remain level when the base is tipped.

Guernsey measure

A type of measure typical of those made for use in Guernsey; strongly influenced by pewter forms from Normandy.


Similar in appearance (but not meaning) to hall marks used by gold and silversmiths. Designed by the maker and presumably used to make pewter appear as much like silver as possible. See Pewter Marks.

Hammered booge

The booge of all English sadware was hammered; however American pewterers discontinued this practice, as a means of reducing costs, after the Revolutionary War. Hammering was thought to strengthen the metal, but modern metallurgists know that pewter quickly loses this strengthening effect.


A rare type of thumb piece found on early baluster measures and flagons. Similar in appearance to a hammer.


A term that was used in Scotland and many provincial British towns for metalworkers (including pewterers) whose work involves use of a hammer.


An Irish measure with a shape reminding one of a haystack or possibly an oast house.

Haystack measure

A 19th century Irish measure with a shape similar to a haystack. Never imported into this country, but many were brought here by Irish immigrants in the 19th century. Many have also been brought into this country in the 20th century by collectors and dealers.


Vessels (such as measures, mugs, tankards, and flagons) made to hold liquids, as distinct from sadware.

Imperial Standard

Established throughout Great Britain in the Geo. IV Weights and Measure Act of 1824 with introduction delayed until 1 January 1826. This replaced the Old English Wine Standard (OEWS) and many other regional standards in the UK. The Act, of course, had no effect on America's use of the OEWS which continues in use to the present time. 1 Imperial Standard Gallon = 1.2 OEWS Gallon.


A trained craftsman working for a master pewterer.


A bulge or knob on the stem of a chalice or candlestick for decoration and convenience in holding.


A machine tool by which work is rotated on a horizontal axis and shaped or cut by a fixed tool.


One of the metals that may be alloyed with tin to create pewter. Romano-British pewter often contains a relatively high lead content, making it fairly soft and heavy. Some British pewter measures of the late 17th and early 18th century can also contain a significant lead content. Because there were no tin mines in the USA, the only source of tin for 18th century American pewterers was scrap English pewter, melted down and adulterated with lead. This is why, generally, most American cast pewter will contain more lead than comparable English pewter. However, modern L.T.P. (London Touch Plate), Britannia, English or American pewter contains no lead by law.

Linen Mark

The handles of porringers and some other pewter vessels were attached by fusing the metal without solder. A handle mold with openings at points of connection was placed against the finished body of the vessel and then filled with molten pewter, which melted part of the body at the joint, forming a strong bond. A "tinker's dam," a heat-absorbing bag of linen or burlap filled with wet sand, was pushed against the inside of the vessel during this procedure and usually left an imprint of the cloth--a "linen mark"--in the softened metal adjacent to the exterior contact with the handle mold.


See hall mark, maker's mark, secondary mark, touch mark and verification mark. See Pewter Marks.


A container of standard capacity regulated by government inspectors who verified the capacity and placed verification marks on the measures. Lidded baluster measures of the "Bud" and "Double volute" type were exported to this country from England and marked with American verification marks. It is believed that some of these baluster types were made in America but only a couple have been found with American maker's marks. The Boardmans of Connecticut made lidless baluster measures in the 19th century. English bulbous measures were made throughout the 19th century and well into the 20th century but were never exported to this country. However thousands have been brought to this country by dealers and collectors since World War II.


A lidless, handled container of various forms and standard capacities. Frequently used in pubs to serve beer, ale, or spirits. Pub pieces may have a variety of marks to include makers, capacity, verification, and others which suggest provenance. Mugs are usually wider at the bottom than at the top. Silver mugs are often called "Canns".


A descriptive term for a plate, dish or charger with several decorative rings at the edge of the rim, usually cast but occasionally incised. Popular from 1675 to 1715. Scarce in English pewter; extremely rare in American pewter.


A Scottish measure that is one quarter of a Scots pint (15 fluid ounces).

Narrow rim

A plate (or, rarely, other sadware) with an exceptionally narrow rim, less than 10% of the overall diameter.


An Irish measure of a quarter of a pint.


Old English Wine Standard, the most commonly used standard for liquid measure in England during the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries. It was used in the American colonies as well and continues in use in the U.S. to the present time. However, the United Kingdom adopted the Imperial Standard in 1826.


One of the processes which contributes to corrosion.


A shallow plate used for bread during Holy Communion.


Pewter Collectors' Club of America.


Pewter is an alloy consisting of mainly tin and containing antimony and copper for strength and color, respectively. Although the percentages vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, a standard for present day pewter is approximately 91 percent tin, 7.5 percent antimony, and 1.5 percent copper. Modern pewter contains NO LEAD whatsoever.

Pewter mark

Current marks being revised. This shows the manufacturer of the item and gives tells of the make-up of the item.


Pre-imperial pub pot. A pub piece manufactured before Imperial measure standards of 1826.


A piece of sadware, 7 to 10 inches (180 to 280 mm) in diameter.


To give a smooth finish to metal by repeated striking with a smooth faced hammer. A technique used by 17th and 18th century English pewterers and 18th century American pewterers to give a more finished appearance to intricately designed porringer handles. It is especially noticeable on "Crown Handle" designs but was used on other designs as well. The practice was discontinued in the 19th century.


A small bowl with either one or two handles or "ears". Used for eating soft food such as gruel.


Attributions of maker, owner, or locality made.


A style of Scottish porringer, used to drink from.


A tapering extension or thickening of a spoon handle onto the underside of the bowl.


The moulding, usually cast, a round the edge of sadware; multiple or single denoting period made.


Relief decoration formed by hammering from the underside.


A piece made to appear as an older form with no intention to deceive the buyer as to age.


Plates, dishes and chargers. A more common term today is flatware.


An open vessel used for dispensing salt. From a time when salt was a very precious commodity.


An item of sadware less than 7 inches (180mm) in diameter.


Hard oxide on pewter. Prone to flaking with rough handling.


A forming technique used in the manufacture of Britannia cylindrical vessels. A sheet of pewter would be bent into the desired shape, the joint where the ends meet bonded with solder, and the resulting seam disguised through polishing and placement under an attached handle. Usually more visible on the inside of a vessel.

Secondary marks

Any mark other than a touch mark which was struck on his/her wares by a pewterer. Common secondary marks include hall marks, a crowned X mark, the pewterer's city, and owners initials. See Pewter Marks.


Glistening brightness and luster.

Single reed

A descriptive term for a plate, dish or charger with a single cast ring at the edge of the rim (on the upper surface). Popular from c 1690 to 1730, though some pewterers (eg those in Bristol, or those exporting to the US) went on using this style into the 19th century.


The process of removing surplus metal and smoothing rough surfaces of cast pewter by scraping with a tool as the piece rotates on a lathe.

Skimming marks

Marks left by skimming tools, usually found on the backs of plates, the outside bottom of porringer bowls, basins, mugs and tankards, areas less frequently seen and therefore not as carefully finished. Slush Cast. The casting method used in pewter manufacturing to create hollow appendages such as handles and spouts. Hot pewter poured into a cool mold solidifies around the contact with the mold, allowing the still molten core to be poured out.


An alloy which melts relatively easily and is used to join pieces of metal such as pewter. As a verb, the process of joining metals with a solder bond.


Process of forming an article by mounting a piece of sheet metal on a chuck and forcing it over a form while it is rotating.


Process of forming an article by stamping a piece of sheet metal over a form in a press.


An inkstand, most frequently with lid (single or double) and footed.


A cylindrical drinking vessel with a handle, a hinged cover, and a projecting thumbpiece for raising the cover or lid. Tankards are usually wider at the bottom than at the top. (Unlidded drinking vessels are usually called "mugs".)

Tappit hen

A Scottish measure found in various sizes (eg chopin and mutchkin) of a distinctive waisted form.


Tin is the major metal in the alloy pewter. At somewhere between 91 and 93 percent of the alloy's composition, tin is the reason for pewter's resistance to corrosion, it's softness, and it's ductility. Tin pest. The disintegration of pure tin into powder at very low temperatures as it loses its crystalline structure.

Verification Marks

Government inspector's marks placed on a vessel certifying that the vessel was of proper standard.