Capacities

Pewter measures used in trade for dispensing liquids had to conform to the prescribed capacity standard. As tankards and mugs could sometimes be used for dispensing, they too conformed to the relevant standard. However, there have been many different standards over the years. Here are the main ones you may encounter.

The capacities are given in millilitres (or cc – they’re the same thing). Vessel capacities are rarely 100% accurate, but most will be within a tolerance of -2% to +5% of the standard and the ‘range’ shows this tolerance.

 

Standard Used Gill * ½ pint Pint Quart
ml range ml range ml range ml range
Imperial From 1826 142 139-149 284 278-298 568 557-597 1137 1114-1193
Old English Ale Up to 1826 144 142-152 289 283-303 578 566-606 1155 1132-1213
Old English Wine Up to 1826; also used in Scotland 118 116-124 237 232-248 473 464-497 946 927-994
Reputed measure Erratically, up to c1900 95 93-99 189 186-199 379 371-398 758 743-796
Winchester Erratically up to 1826 139 137-146 279 273-293 558 546-586 1115 1093-1171
Henry VII Wine Northern England up to 1826 126 123-132 252 246-264 503 493-528 1006 986-1056
15 fl oz pint Northern England up to c1800 107 104-112 213 209-224 426 418-448 852 835-895
Irish Up to at least 1801 111 109-117 223 218-234 446 437-468 891 874-936
Gill ½ mutchkin Mutchkin Chopin
Scots Stirling (wine) In Scotland to 1826 106 104-112 212 208-223 425 417-446 850 833-893
Scots Ale In Scotland to 1826, for ale 226 221-237 452 443-475 904 886-949

* In Ireland, often called a noggin or naggin

Because of the tolerances one cannot always determine which capacity standard was used. For example, it is impossible to say whether a measure with a capacity of 580 ml is Imperial, Old English Ale or even Winchester standard. To confuse matters still further, some of the pre-1826 standards varied in different parts of the country, so a measure might have been made to a standard but still fall outside the tolerance ranges indicated above. There were other standards as well, many of them local, but pewter measures using them are rarely encountered.

Here is the same information in fluid ounces.
This table doesn’t include the ranges, but it is important to bear them in mind.

Standard Used Gill ½ pint Pint Quart
GB US GB US GB US GB US
Imperial From 1826 5.0

4.8

10.0 9.6 20.0 19.2 40.0 38.4
Old English Ale Up to 1826 5.1 4.9 10.2 9.8 20.3 19.5 40.7 39.1
Old English Wine Up to 1826; also used in Scotland 4.2 4.0 8.3 8.0 16.7 16.0 33.3 32.0
Reputed measure Erratically, up to c1900 3.3 3.2 6.7 6.4 13.3 12.8 26.7 25.6
Winchester Erratically up to 1826 4.9 4.7 9.8 9.4 19.6 18.9 39.3 37.7
Henry VII Wine Northern England up to 1826 4.4 4.3 8.8 8.5 17.6 17.0 35.4 34.0
15 fl oz pint Northern England up to c1800 3.8 3.6 7.5 7.2 15.0 14.4 30.0 28.8
Irish Up to at least 1801

3.9

3.8 7.8 7.5 15.7 15.1 31.4 30.1
Gill ½ mutchkin Mutchkin Chopin
Scots Stirling In Scotland to 1826

3.7

3.6

7.5

7.2 15.0 14.4 29.9 27.7
Scots Ale In Scotland to 1826, for ale

8.0

7.6 15.9 15.3 31.8 30.6