Themes for the Specialist Collector
There are lots of themes which lead to specialist collecting and it is often the social context which, in turn adds interest.
The capacities of vessels for both liquid and dry goods have been regulated for centuries and pewter was a suitably durable and inexpensive metal for the production of measures. There are scores of examples and collecting is made more interesting by the variety of verification marks found on these items.
Tankards & mugs
Sometimes it is difficult to decide what was a measure and what was a mug or tankard, especially since many of these were also capacity verified and could have been used for both drinking and measuring. Nevertheless, there is a massive choice for the new collector and one which can always be enhanced.
Apart from the above, lots of other pewterwares have been used in the licensed trade such as funnels, bottle measures, taps & spigots.
So many of these to choose from. Many 19th century examples already mentioned but also salts, spice pots, ice moulds, sauce boats, condiment containers, vases, plates, dishes, etc.
These are ideal for the collector with limited space to display his or her collection. There is also a massive variety with many styles and examples surviving from as early as the 14th century.
Pewter was used in churches and monasteries too. British Isles items tend to be limited to flagons, plates, chalices and cups and are not too difficult to find. In continental Europe, there are far more items such as cruets and holy oil containers of many shapes and sizes. Judaica is a separate specialist area for collectors, although there is more to find in continental Europe than in Britain.
A quite esoteric area of interest with many fascinating possibilities. Examples more readily available to the new collector include medicine spoons, chamber pots, syringes, feeding bottles and bleeding bowls.
The majority of British isles pewterwares were made in London and becoming familiar with individual makers is an interest in its own right. There were, however, many centres of manufacture throughout the country with variations in style and this is a popular speciality for collectors. Regions of special interest include Scotland, Ireland, York, Wigan, Midlands, West Country and Channel Isles but there are lots more!
Pewter wares were often made to commemorate events of national or local interest. At one end of the scale are royal commemorative tankards and plates celebrating William & Mary and 18th century spoons with cast images of kings and queens. These are rare and correspondingly expensive but there are later items of interest: even today, pewter tankards and plates are engraved to celebrate sporting victories or society membership and this is a tradition which was at its height in the 19th century. Many examples can be found in antiques shops and at fairs and can lead to further social research into the backgrounds of the original owners.