Old Pewter Part 5

"" a able to buy a sett of pewter. Through all the Revo lutionary troubles he stayed among the Indians, endeav ouring to prevent their taking part in the war. During more than thirty years he laboured among them, his house being open to all the Indians who were constantly coming and going. It was no uncommon thing for him to feed sixty or seventy during week, andahis whole

CD fJR salary was often devoured during a year in hospitality. Many a painted and feathered savage has eaten off this plate, which is greatly cherished by one of Mr. Kirk- land's descendants.

The old newspapers of Colonial times furnish a good index of what were the manners and customs of the people at that time, and what were the articles in use. By 1777 New York was filled with officers and soldiers, and apparently with a number of light-fingered gentry, as well. There are numberless advertisements of lost articles, stolen goods, and many rewards are offered and "no questions asked." This notice appears in several issues of the " New York Mercury ":

"Stolen out of a room, a small red leather trunk, with several small articles, two razors, a pewter shaving-box with soap."

I have recently heard from the OAAmers of two pewter shaving mugs. In one case the mug has become a re ceptacle for buttons, while in the other it is still intact in its red leather box with all the other fittings.

In Figure 299 are two nice tasting bowls (you rarely find these called porringers in any English list) and two covered boxes. For just what purpose the latter were used it would be hard to tell, unless it was for soap. They are twisted, and so are the pieces in the next Figure (300), which are old and interesting. This twisted effect was seen on very early pieces, particularly candlesticks, and was made about that period which is called, with more or less inaccuracy, " Queen Anne." At any rate haveIseen candlesticks, made about 17, in this twisted:» pattern, and, besides the twist, the objects themselves betray great age. The two salt cellars on either side of the jug are of the form and size common at that period, when a person's rank entitled him to sit above or below the salt.

Fig. 298 Group of Pewter.

 Fig. 301 Candle Moulds.

In the records of the Pewterers Company are set down the prices for many different patterns of salts, from the " grete Staundyn Sault on Bawles " to those of smaller size and less weight. Besides all the valuable information concerning the methods of the pewterers in their work, these records tell much history, and give many glimpses into the ways of the times. For in stance, all the great guilds furnished service in time of war, did duty at all great city and civic festivals, and duly are set down in these books whatever was paid, even for such things as ribbons for the hats of the mem bers aaIio walked in procession, when Queen Anne went to church at St. Paul's to give thanks for the victory at Ramifies.

Besides buckles and watch cases of pewter, many buttons were made, and they had to frame a rule with regard to the quality of metal put into candle moulds. In 1703 Thomas Greener " appeared upon Sumons to this Court to give account of what metal he makes Candle Moulds. And declared he made them of a mix ture of Mettle something worse than pale, and that they may be better of fine. But that he has experienced that they cannot be made of Lay. Thereupon this court con sidering That the makeing of any new sort of Pewter Vessel or Ware of any sort of mettle than perfectly fine,

Fig. 1 Oak Table and Joint Stool.Mr Fig. 1 1 Liquor Case and Glasses m m. Fig. 2 Cavalier Table. Fig. 2 5 Stump Bedstead. Fig. 3 Balustkk Table.Fig. 3 Salts and Jug tm.Fig. 3 7 Plates and Platters V.

Fig. 302 Snuffers, Tray, and Sticks. Fig. 303 Pewter Lamps.

-rv. or at the Assize of Lay maye be of a very dangerous con sequence, and that there is great quantities of Candle Moulds now made of mettle worse than pale, though the same Moulds were made at first of fine Pewter."

In Figure 301 we show some of these old moulds, for making two, four, or eight candles. The tubing part is made of pewter, and very rough and crude they are.

Tavo candles made in similar moulds are shown in Figure 302. The pewter sticks which hold them have seen long service. They were brought into this country by the Hite family, who were among the first settlers in the Valley of Virginia, about the year 1730.

The snuffers and tray are of lighter and more orna mental make, and are probably of a later period. Some times these candlesticks are a straight column with a band of rude work around them. Queen Anne pattern has a straight stem, but it swells out into quite a bulge about the middle.

People often inquire, " How shall I clean my old pewter? " We cannot do better than recommend the good old method of scouring-rush and elbow grease. If, however, the rushes are unobtainable, there are sub stitutes, but there is no way to get along without abun dant rubbing. While some collectors prefer to allow their pieces to stay dull and discoloured, it was certainly not the way they looked when in use and proudly dis played in livery or court cupboard, or on a fine old Dutch Kas. Neglected pewter will be found to be cor roded, or covered with a coat of oxidation. The removal of this is slow, and must be accomplished by patient, hard scrubbing with a hard brush, and plenty of hot water and soap. The addition of soda, borax, or am monia will help somewhat, but hot soap and water will do, and is less hard on the hands. When this crust of dirt is somewhat loosened, with a woollen cloth, kerosene, and any good metal polish, rub and rub, and then rub some more. When your arms are rested begin and rub again, and gradually in spots and lines the silvery sur face will appear, s1oaa-1v broadening as you work on. Of course, specimens which have not been cleaned in years will be the only ones requiring such labour, and when once bright can easily be kept so. A final brilliant polish can be given by whitening and a woollen cloth. Dents and bends can sometimes be removed by means of a wooden mallet and pad of leather, but one will be much more likely to damage a piece still further, for as it is a soft metal, pewter is easily knocked out of shape.

Small scratches and lines will often wear away with frequent cleanings, and any way seem a hall-mark of antiquity and respectability.

Quite a contrast to such elegance as these candlesticks in Figure 302 can be seen in the group of stout little pewter lamps next shown (Figure 303). They were made before 1763 without doubt, for at that time the flat-wicked lamp was invented, and was most popular since it gave such a superior light to the round-wicked one. All of these you see have round wicks. I do not doubt that the owner of the pair of tallest ones felt very well satisfied with them, and thought them most "gen- teel." The lamp to the left has a bull's-eye of glass which concentrated the light for sewing or reading. Cannot you see the eager circle which gathered about of an evening, while the latest news of the war and of Gen eral Washington's movements were read from the broadsides which came so infrequently and were so badly printed? o Another means of procuring light was by what were called " whale-oil lamps," like the two shown in Figure 304. They were made of pewter, and sometimes of glass, but the pewter were more highly considered on account of their less perishable character. They were poor things at best, smoky and ill-smelling, and candles were used at all elegant entertainments, even if they did drip from chandelier or sconce and ruin the dresses and spot the coats of the dancers or diners. Whale oil was procurable as early as 1712, for by that date the Nan tucket whalers were voyaging to distant seas in pursuit of the sperm whale. The oil boiled at sea was a pale yellow, and quite odourless. It was also the highest priced on that account, and so was not as commonly used as an inferior grade. These lamps are doubtless American made, for they are not marked, but were found in Massachusetts in a family whose oldest member could not recollect when they had not been called" lamps." old

Fig. 304 Pewter Lamps. Fig. 305 Pewter Lamps.

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Source

The Collector's Manual by N. Hudson Moore, Amy Richards. New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company, 1906.

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