Shop Pewter Care + Cleaning + History
Best Ways to Clean Pewter
The more you handle and use pewter, the more it will develop a distinctive, warm patina. Most users and collectors enjoy allowing it to age and add patina naturally & gracefully so it becomes unique to them.
After use you may clean pewter with warm soapy water, rinse, then allow to air dry. Towel drying with a soft cloth is fine, too. It is dishwasher safe but some people prefer to handwash. Why? The heat and detergent can be too much for some pewter. Some detergents will darken pewter. Pewter is softer than steel and depending on how you load your machine, other items in your dishwasher could dent it. We put our Tin Woodsman Pewter in the dishwasher on gentle cycle and have never had a problem in 15+ years. If you do wish to restore shine and luster to your pewter, a gentle scrub with toothpaste and a soft cloth (or soft toothbrush!) works fine. There are also specialized pewter cleaners available from Stowe Craft Gallery.
How Care for Pewter
Pewter is a relatively soft metal. That means we recommend you keep it away from heat. Pewter should never be used in an oven, microwave or on the stovetop and should not be exposed to a direct flame. Use your spoons and cups for scooping lightweight, loose items and measuring. Do not use them to pry open a stuck lid. What are the top 2 ways people have broken their pewter measuring cups? 1: Trying to scoop brown sugar or 2: Ben & Jerry's ice cream! Don't Do This!
About Pewter: Discovery, History and Facts
Pewter is not a naturally occurring metal but rather a man-made alloy comprised of a number of elements but primarily tin. Tin is the fourth most precious metal, ranked just after gold, silver, and platinum. The reputation tin gets as cheap comes from so called "tin cans". Tin cans are in fact mostly made of steel with a very, very thin coating of tin.
Pewter is one of the world's oldest man-made metals, having been worked into objects of art by ancient Greeks, Romans, and Chinese as early as the 2nd Century A.D. Significant production began in the 13th Century, and by the 18th Century the English had made pewter widely available as an alternative to gold and silver for drinking vessels and hollow-ware. America had it's own "Pewter Century" between 1750 and 1850 when many great New England artists worked in pewter. Vermont's earliest pewter maker was Richard Lee. He first worked in Massachusetts and was known for making uniform buttons for the Continental Army. Sometime after 1773 he moved to Vermont and sold pewter for his son in Springfield, Vermont. Pewter and bronze are related; pewter is mostly tin, with a small amount of copper (and other ingredients), while bronze is mostly copper, with a small amount of tin. Historians think pewter was invented when the quantities of metal in the alloy were reversed by accident.
Did you know that the glass bottom pewter tankard was developed (by the English) so that a soldier could see his enemies approaching while drinking his favorite brew?