Posted by David on 7/16/2014 to
Some of us might remember the late-night commercials for a Civil War chess set where all the pieces were made from pewter. The commercials were very well done professionally and gave the impression that pewter was truly a special material.
Have you noticed that pewter has not been mentioned much before or since the Civil War chess set? Well, before you shop pewter products, we think it's at least helpful to give you a little bit of information about pewter and its history.
Pewter is a metal alloy, consisting of about 90 percent tin and the rest antimony or copper. Pewter used to have lead in it, but we all know now the dangers of lead. The first known use of pewter came in 11th-century Europe, with the first American colonists known to bring pewter to America in the 1600s.
In the first couple hundred years of its known existence, pewter was expensive and was a status symbol for the wealthy and ministers who used pewter in religious rites. However, by the 1700s pewter began to be well-accepted and adopted by those of lower socioeconomics, and the use of pewter reached its zenith during this time.
After this, however, porcelain and glass were developed into many of the same items that were made with pewter, and these were less expensive, so the popularity of pewter began waning. It declined further when the wealthy no longer saw pewter as a sign of status. The Industrial Revolution also contributed to the further deterioration of value of pewter.
However, now that there has been such a waning interest in pewter, it has now become more rare in society - so naturally, that means the popularity of pewter is beginning to come back.
By the way, a note about tin - it is considered a cheap metal by many, but it is actually the fourth most-precious metal in the world behind platinum, gold and silver.