Antique pewter

BADA is the leading trade association for the fine art, design and antiques community. Read our guide to caring for antique pewter.

Antique pewter

Pewter is a metal alloy and is composed predominantly of tin. The alloy can also be mixed with copper, antimony, bismuth, silver or lead.

It was first used by the Egyptians and later the Romans. Pewter was most commonly used in the production of drinking vessels and tableware.

It was traditionally common to polish pewter in order to give it a bright, untarnished appearance.

These days, many collectors prefer their pewter to have an authentic patina.

So, overzealous cleaning and polishing can damage the value of pewter items. 

Antique pewter is highly sensitive to scratching and denting. Effective cleaning requires care and attention.

Cleaning pewter

To retain an authentic patina, dust your pewter lightly with a soft brush.

Fingerprints and dirt can be removed by light swabbing with methylated spirits.

After swabbing, gently rub your items dry with a soft cloth.

If you prefer to polish your antique pewter and remove unwanted tarnish, a delicate touch is essential.

Vigorous polishing can lead to the loss of decorative details, filigree work and hallmarks.

If you are at all uncertain, a BADA member will be happy to recommend a suitable specialist.

Antique pewter

Protecting pewter

Painted pieces can be cared for by applying a good furniture wax.

Apply the wax with cotton wool or a soft brush and buff with a duster.

Rust on antique pewter can vary significantly according to the composition of the alloy.

Rust can eat through pewter and destroy antique items if it is not treated.

If your object is valuable or precious, consult a pewter specialist for advice on restoration and repair.

For dealers who specialise in pewter click here

To browse pewter objects online click here

For advice on caring for antique Brass and Copper click here

For BADA recommended specialists in packing and shipping antiques and fine art click here