Thomas Danforth II opened a pewter workshop in 1755 in colonial Connecticut, and generations of the Danforth family followed him into the pewter trade. Before the 1860s, almost every American household had pewter plates and cups, and the Danforths were one of the leading families in American pewter. After the Civil War, glass and ceramic became affordable to average people, and the American pewter industry collapsed. The last of the colonial-era Danforths stopped working in pewter in 1873. There is colonial Danforth pewter in the Smithsonian, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Museum Collection at Colonial Williamsburg, and many other American museums. The Danforth family went off to other endeavors, like inventing the Danforth anchor.
One hundred years later, Thomas Danforth II’s great-great-great-great-great grandson Fred Danforth, and Fred’s wife Judi Danforth, revived the family tradition when they opened Danforth Pewter in Vermont in 1975. Over the next 33 years, the company grew to include four retail stores, a web store, a wholesale business providing products to several hundred independent gift stores around the country, a custom design business, and a corporate gift and recognition business. For many years, the company held the exclusive license from Disney to create classic Winnie-the-Pooh products in pewter, as well as licenses for Dr. Seuss and Beatrix Potter.
In 2008, Danforth Pewter acquired Shirley Pewter of Williamsburg, Virginia, becoming the proud owner of the Shirley Pewter Shop in Colonial Williamsburg and the Shirley online shop at shirleypewter.com. Danforth also became the manufacturer of the Shirley line of fine pewter. In 2011, Danforth acquired the Pewter Port line of products from WT Wilson of Providence, Rhode Island.
Today, every piece of Danforth, Shirley and Pewter Port pewter is crafted by hand from 100% lead-free fine pewter in our Middlebury, Vermont workshop. Our line includes everything from miniature pocket charms to one-of-a-kind oil lamps signed by the artist, and our most popular categories are jewelry, holiday ornaments and key rings.
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