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Glossary

Antimony
Chemical symbol Sb One of the metals that may be alloyed with tin to create pewter. First used by British pewterers in the later 17th century. Historically known as ‘regulus’.

Baluster
A lidded or unlidded measure with a distinctive, slightly bulbous body. When lidded, often classified by the shape of the thumbpiece (e.g. hammerhead, bud, double volute, etc.). Very long history of use. Replaced in the early 19th century by the squatter bulbous measure whose body has a much more pronounced bulge.

Beaker
A handle-less mug or cup. Most common in England in the 19th century.

Beggar’s Badge
A badge, usually made of pewter, issued by parishes to ‘licensed’ beggars to be sewn into their clothing. Issued in Britain and Ireland between the 16th & 19th centuries. Some mediaeval examples are also known, mainly in continental Europe.

Bellied Measure
See ‘bulbous measure’.

Bleeding Bowl
A porringer-like vessel for blood letting, often with capacity marks around the inside of the bowl. Usually has straight, rather than curved, sides.

Bismuth
Chemical symbol Bi A pinkish white metal sometimes added to pewter in small quantities to improve the casting qualities of the alloy. Historically known as ‘tin glass’.

Booge (or Bouge)
The curved wall between the well and rim of a plate or dish.

Boss
A domed centre to a plate or dish: also referred to as a ‘bumpy-bottom’.

Britannia Metal
A trade description for a pewter alloy containing a comparatively high proportion of antimony – typically 92% tin, 6% antimony and 2% copper. This alloy was first introduced by Sheffield manufacturers in the second half of the 18th century and is a product of the industrial revolution. It was also known in its early days as white metal. As an alloy it has characteristics which permit articles to be made by cold-forming the alloy in sheet form (e.g. by spinning or stamping) rather than by casting. N.B. Some earlier books assert, possibly due to ignorance of the contents of the alloy, that Britannia Metal is not pewter!

Bulbous or Bellied Measure
A round bodied, mug-like vessel made in abundance during the 19th century and into the 20th century. Used in pubs and inns to provide varying measures of beer, ale, cider, spirits, etc. Usually lidless and in sizes ranging from a gallon down to very small sizes ).

Bumpy-bottom
See boss.

Capstan
A salt in the general form of a capstan in use c 1675-1700.

Casting
Process whereby molten pewter is poured into a mould to form the desired article. This was the main way of forming pewter articles until the introduction of Britannia Metal allowed items to be cold-formed from sheet metal. However, even then casting continued to be used for certain types of vessel such as measures and pub pots and to provide the thumbpieces, knops, handles, feet, etc. of articles whose bodies were made from sheet metal.

Castor
A small vessel with a perforated top used to dispense salt, sugar or sand.

Chalice
A stemmed cup used for ecclesiastical purposes. Most correctly for use in the Roman Catholic Mass and provided with a small bowl; however, often also used to describe Protestant communion cups, which have far larger bowls.

Charger
A piece of sadware, 18 inches (460mm) or greater in diameter.

Chopin
A Scottish measure with a capacity equal to a half Scots pint, or 1½ pint Imperial measure.

Communion token
A coin like item usually of pewter, or white metal but sometimes lead or brass and made in a variety of shapes (round, oval, rectangular, octagonal, etc.). Issued to those deemed eligible to take communion. Originating in Scotland, the use of such tokens spread to other countries where significant numbers of Scots settled, e.g. Canada & New Zealand. Some English examples are also found.

Corrosion
The slow formation of a dark layer of oxide on the surface of pewter. Depending on the alloy, the corrosion can range from a very thin and hard layer to a thick and crusty scale.

Copper
Chemical symbol Cu A red brown metal alloyed with tin and sometimes antinomy to form pewter.

Crested
Used to describe a Scottish tappit hen with a knop on the lid.

Dish
A piece of sadware 11 to 18 inches (280 to 460 mm) in diameter.

Drum
The body of a tankard, mug, measure, or flagon.

E.P.B.M. Electroplated Britannia Metal.

Eruption. Oxidation (corrosion) which has resulted in surface bubbles.

Fake or Forgery. A piece made purposely to deceive prospective buyers or which has been altered in some way/s (e.g. by adding marks or decoration) with the intention to deceive, usually by suggesting it is of greater age, value or interest than it really is

Fillet. The raised moulding around the drum of a tankard, mug, measure or flagon or around the underside of the rim of a plate or other item of sadware.

Finial. Various. A type of knop on an early spoon; the terminal end of a handle on a tankard, mug, etc.; or the knop on the lid of a flagon or other lidded container.

Flagon. A lidded container, used for ecclesiastical and domestic purposes. Flagons are often referred to by their style, e.g. Spire, Straight-Sided, York, Rembrandt (a Dutch style often illustrated in works by that artist and his contempories), etc.; their lids, e.g. Beefeater (shape similar to a Beefeater’s hat), Bun-Lid, Dome-Lid, etc.; or by their thumbpieces, e.g. Acorn.

Gadrooning. A form of raised, cast decoration found on candlesticks, salts and other vessels. (ref 1, p 15 etc.)

Garnish. A set of sadware for the table.

Gill. A quarter of a pint. (See also noggin or naggin.)

Guernsey measure. A type of measure typical of those made for use in Guernsey; strongly influenced by pewter forms from Normandy.

Hall marks. Similar in appearance (but not meaning) to hall marks used by gold and silversmiths. Designed by the maker and presumably used to make pewter appear as much like silver as possible. (See Pewter Marks: an Introduction)

Hammermen. A term that was used in the British Isles and continental Europe to describe metalworkers (including pewterers) whose work involved use of a hammer.

Harvester. A term used to describe a haystack-shaped measure used in the West-Country from the late 18th century. Also an alternative name for the Irish haystack measure.

Haystack. A term generally applied to a type of measure originally developed in Cork, Ireland with a shape reminiscent of a haystack. Sometimes also called a harvester measure but differing in shape from the West-Country version. Subsequently and later copied in England and the USA.

Hollow-ware. Vessels (such as tankards, measures and flagons) made to hold liquids, as distinct from sadware.

Imperial standard. Established in the Geo IV Weights and Measure Act of 1824 with introduction delayed to 1January 1826. The Act “…completely reorganized British metrology and established Imperial weights and measures; defined the yard, troy and avoirdupois pounds and the gallon (as the standard of measure for liquids and dry goods not measure by heaped measure), [and] …continued the existing system by which local Examiners were responsible for the inspection of trade weights and measures…” (note 2, pg 251)

Jersey Measure. A type of measure produced for use in Jersey; strongly influenced by pewter forms from Normandy.

Journeyman. A craftsman, who had completed his apprenticeship and worked for another master pewterer rather than on his own behalf.

Knop. The finial on the end of a spoon or the knob on lids of flagons, tankards, etc.

Laver. A type of church flagon, lidded or un-lidded, used in Scotland to carry wine or hold water used at baptism.

Lead. Chemical symbol Pb One of the metals that may be alloyed with tin to create pewter. Romano-British pewter often contains a relatively high lead content, making it fairly soft and heavy. Some British pewter of the late 17th,18th & 19th centuries can also contain a significant lead content. Modern pewter is always essentially lead-free.

L.T.P. London Touch Plate. Pewter plates on which master pewterers were required to strike their touch on opening a shop.

Maker’s mark. See Pewter Marks: an Introduction

Mark. See hall mark, maker’s mark, secondary mark, touch mark and verification mark. Also see Pewter Marks: an Introduction for more details.

Measure. A container of a standard capacity. Of particular interest to collectors due to the wide variety of standards suggesting provenance and the seemingly innumerable marks that “were struck, branded or engraved” (2, vii) on them to indicate they conformed.

Mug or pot. A lidless, handled container of various forms and standard capacities. Frequently used in pubs to serve beer, ale, cider or spirits. Pub pieces may have a variety of marks to include makers, capacity, verification, and others which suggest provenance.

Multi-reed. A descriptive term for a plate, dish or charger with several decorative rings at the edge of the rim, usually cast but occasionally incised. Popular from c 1675 to 1715.

Mutchkin. A Scottish measure that is one quarter of a Scots pint (15 fluid ounces).

Narrow rim. A plate (or, rarely, other sadware) with an exceptionally narrow rim, less than 10% of the overall diameter.

Noggin or Naggin. An Irish measure of a quarter of a pint.

O.E.W.S. Old English Wine Standard. A measure of capacity abolished in 1826 in the UK and dominions but continuing in use in the USA (one pint OEWS = 16.7 fluid ounces)

Oxidation. One of the processes which contributes to corrosion.

Paten. A shallow plate used for bread in the Holy Communion/Mass service.

P.C.C.A. Pewter Collectors’ Club of America.

Pewter. An alloy consisting predominately of tin, but alloyed with some other metal(s) to make it stronger and easier to cast or spin. Metals that have been alloyed with tin include copper, antimony, bismuth and lead. The tin content of most pewter exceeds 90%, although there are some exceptions (see lead).

Pilgrim Badge. A badge, usually made of pewter, worn by pilgrims to holy shrines in England and continental Europe between the 13th & 15th centuries. Badges were usually specific to the pilgrimage depicting the saint or images pertaining to the saint or his shrine. They were sewn or pinned onto clothes or worn as pendants. At the end of the journey home, many pilgrims discarded their badges and large quantities have been found on the foreshores of rivers such as the Thames in London and Seine in Paris.

Pip. Pre-imperial pub pot. A pub piece manufactured before the introduction of Imperial measure standards in 1826.

Plate. A piece of sadware, 7 to11 inches (180 to 280 mm) in diameter.

Porringer. A small bowl with either one or two handles or “ears”. Used for eating soft food such as gruel.

Provenance. Attributions to a maker, owner or locality.

Pub Pot. Lidless drinking mug owned by the tavern or pub. See ‘pip’.

Quaich. A very rare style of Scottish handled bowl somewhat similar to a porringer; probably used for drinking from.

Reed. The moulding, usually cast but occasionally incised, round the edge of sadware. Single or multiple reeding is a guide to the period of manufacture.

Repousse. Relief decoration formed by hammering.

Reproduction. A piece made as a copy of an older form without the intention to deceive as to age.

Retainer’s Badge. A badge, often made of pewter, worn by servants of royal or noble houses. Badges depicted elements of the arms of the house, e.g. rose, crown, etc. and were usually attached by a pin .

Sadware. Saucers, plates, dishes and chargers.

Salt. An open vessel used for dispensing salt. Sometimes referred to as salt-cellar (a corruption of the French ‘salière’)

Saucer. An item of sadware less than 7 inches (180mm) in diameter.

Scale. Hard oxide on pewter. Prone to flaking with rough handling.

Secondary marks. Any mark other than a touch mark which was struck on his/her wares by a pewterer. Common secondary marks include hall marks, a rose and crown, crown and X, logos such as “Hard Metal”, the pewterer’s address or even an advertising slogan. (See Pewter Marks: an Introduction)

Single reed. A descriptive term for a plate, dish or charger with a single cast moulding at the edge of the rim (on the upper surface). Popular from c 1690 to 1730, though some pewterers (e.g. those in Bristol, Devon and London, including or those exporting to the US) went on using this style into the 19th century.

Spinning. Process of forming an article by mounting a piece of sheet metal on a chuck and forcing it over a former whilst it is rotating.

Stamping. Process of forming an article by stamping a piece of sheet metal in a press.

Standish. An inkstand, most frequently footed and with a single or double lid.

Tankard. A lidded drinking vessel. (Unlidded drinking vessels are usually called “pots” or “mugs”.) Often classified by the type of lid, e.g. Dome, Double Dome, Flat, or by shape, e.g. Straight-Sided, Tulip.

Tappit hen. A Scottish measure found in various sizes (e.g. chopin and mutchkin) of a distinctive waisted form.

Tavern pot. Properly, a baluster measure owned by the tavern although often used as an alternative term for ‘mug’ or ‘pub pot’.

Tazza. A footed plate or shallow bowl.

Thumbpieces. Types include Acorn, Ball, Bud, Chairback, Double Volute, Erect, Hammerhead, Knopped Ball, Leaf, Palmette, Plume, Ramshorn, Scroll, Shell, Spade, Spray, etc. The style of the thumbpiece on a lidded flagon, tankard or measure is often used to classify the vessel itself as in ‘Bud Baluster Measure’.

Tin. Chemical symbol Sn The principle component of pewter. A silver-grey crystalline metal with a low melting point of 232 Centigrade. For thousands of years tin was mined mainly in Devon and Cornwall. From mediaeval times until the 17th century, kings of England secured control over the mines’ output using the tin produced as a means of raising money.

Tin pest. The disintegration of pure tin into powder at very low temperatures as it loses its crystalline structure. Contrary to the statements in some early books on pewter, tin pest never affects pewter.

Touch mark. See Pewter Marks: an Introduction

Triple reed. Another term used to describe a multi-reed plate, dish or charger with cast rings on the edge of the rim.

Verification Marks. Marks placed on a vessel certifying that the vessel was of correct capacity. Pieces may have been initially verified at source of manufacture, but were frequently verified at their place of use as well. A multiplicity of marks exist for monarchs, counties and localities that add great interest to collectors since they can convey provenance and because there is still a great deal to discover. N.B. Reference two below, published in 1996, is the most extensive work to-date on weights and measures used in the United Kingdom. (See Pewter Marks: an Introduction).

Wavy edge. A piece of sadware whose rim is formed of curved segments. Sometimes cast in this form but often created by adapting standard plates.

White Metal. See Britannia Metal. Beware, however, a white smith is a person who works in cold iron; that is the opposite of a blacksmith, and not somebody who works white metal.

Wrigglework. Zig-zag “engraving,” made by walking a screwdriver-like tool from corner to corner of the blade. Such engraving can often be quite crude and naive.