Pewter is a timeless choice for tableware and decor—so timeless, it’s been in use for over three millennia, with a history stretching back to the ancient Romans and Egyptians.
Its lustrous durability made it the favorite choice for plates, forks, knives, and other kitchenware in the 17th century. Early versions of the material were unwisely composed of tin and poisonous lead, but today’s lead-free combination of tin and copper gives pewter an elegant, and food-safe, sheen. And unlike, silver, it’s blessedly resistant to tarnishing.
Given its silvery hue, you might think that pewter, like silver, needs the kind of polishing that requires real elbow grease to get the job done. In reality, the process of caring for it is quite simple. We turned to Richard Abdy of Wentworth Pewter—a family-owned pewtersmithing company in Sheffield, England—about how to keep your wares looking presentation-worthy.
Pewter doesn’t need much maintenance on a daily basis. Just wash by hand in hot, soapy water (any dish soap will do) and dry with a soft cloth. Make sure to dry your pewter completely, as water droplets may leave spots.
It’s best to avoid letting pewter soak in hot water, especially if you’re washing dinnerware that’s made with pewter and another material, like glass or porcelain.
If your pewter starts to look dull, simply clean it with metal polish before washing. For best results, take care to polish in up-and-down or left-to-right motions (i.e., rub in a straight line rather than circles).
And that’s it—your pewter will retain its lustrous finish with the minimum amount of attention. While the material is not tarnish-proof, it is tarnish-resistant—and any tarnishing that may take place will occur over a period of decades, not months or years. With proper care, your pewter will retain its shine for countless seasons to come, bringing its classic elegance to any special occasion tablescape—or (why not?) your everyday table.
Image courtesy of Match Pewter. Shop pewter flasks, dinnerware, barware, shaving tools, and more.