Danforth pewter, sometimes known as Britannia metal, is made of the highest quality lead-free alloy of tin, copper, and antimony. The tin imparts a fine sheen and malleability. Over time and with use, your pewter will develop a wonderful patina. Due to the high quality of pewter alloy we use, Danforth pewter contains no lead and therefore is safe for food and drink, meeting or exceeding FDA food safety standards. Bon Appetit!
It is also hypoallergenic and nickel-free, so it is an excellent choice for everyday and special-occasion jewelry and accessories.
Facts about pewter:
- Pewter will last for generations if cared for properly.
- Many collectors feel that pewter benefits from handling as it develops a distinctive, warm patina the more it is used.
- Though certain conditions will cause pewter to oxidize and darken, such as regular handling and living near saltwater, pewter does not tarnish like silver and copper. Pewter can be cleaned with warm soapy water, rinsed, then towel dried with a soft cloth. Do not wash pewter in an automatic dishwasher as the heat and detergent can be harmful to the piece.
- There are various pewter cleaners and polishes available to maintain your pewter. Danforth recommends and sells Simichrome polish. It is a soft paste for virtually any metal. It cleans to a brilliant shine and leaves a protective film. When applying to satin-finished pieces, you will want to apply the polish following the grain otherwise the finish can come off over time.
- Pewter should never be used in an oven, microwave, or on the stovetop and should not be exposed to a direct flame. This could cause melting and deform the piece.
Before the Civil War, almost every American home had pewter in it. People ate off and drank from pewter because it’s durable, easy to clean, affordable, and it doesn’t rust or tarnish. It is hypoallergenic and food-safe, making it an excellent material for everything from kitchenware to jewelry.
Since the 1700s, the Danforth family were leading suppliers of pewter tableware and drinkware. Thomas Danforth II opened a pewter workshop in Middletown, Connecticut in 1755, and generations of the Danforth family followed him into the trade. Thomas passed the family business down to his children, who passed it along through the generations for over a century.
For as soft a metal as it is, pewter is extremely versatile. It can become everything from modern jewelry to historical-style barware to stunning, one-of-a-kind oil lamps. It is “contemporary” meets “antique” - meaning, there’s something in pewter for everyone.
It is also a lightweight metal that makes for excellent, wearable accessories.
Pewter is less expensive than silver, doesn’t tarnish, and lasts a lifetime. It’s a simple but sophisticated part of any household décor or wardrobe.
Our lead designer, Tim Copeland, says this about pewter: “Pewter is a wonderful material to work with because it can take so many forms and be shaped so many ways. The possibilities for innovative design in pewter are unlimited. I enjoy the challenges it presents in developing new ways to work it. In practice, I apply many modern digital technologies such as CNC machining, 3d printing, and Computer-Aided Design to the crafting of pewter which is itself an ancient material.”
(For more on Danforth history, click here.)
Every pewter piece we sell is made by many hands in our Middlebury, Vermont workshop. This space features a gallery of one-of-a-kind items, a history wall with antique Danforth pieces, and windows that let you look into the workshop, where all our pewterware is made.
Middlebury is located in the beautiful Champlain Valley, midway between Rutland and Burlington, and just across the Champlain Bridge from New York State. You will find our flagship store a short distance from Main Street, Middlebury College, and some of Middlebury's most charming inns and bed & breakfasts. Middlebury also has a small private airport and in the near future the Amtrak train from NYC will be passing through for commuters.
Middlebury is a wonderful place to visit year-round. In the summer you can enjoy the beautiful green mountains, boat in Lake Champlain, find a local swimming hole, and dip your feet in the crisp clear water running down the mountains. The fall brings the magnificent foliage season with brilliant orange and reds. During the pristine white winters of snow-covered hills, thousands of people come for skiing, snow-shoeing, and snowmobiling. In the spring, Vermont renews itself with lush green fields of flowers and hungry trout in our babbling brooks.
Our workshop runs on renewable electricity generated by our solar farm below Snake Mountain. We believe we are the only solar-powered pewter workshop around. (If you find another one, please let us know!)
Adjacent to our workshop is our Flagship store. When you come to visit, you can see how our products are made – in fact, you can watch our artisans at work!
Through one window, you’ll see our artisans ladle hot melted pewter into molds. Through another, you’ll see pewter discs being spun on a 100-year-old lathe to become oil lamps, drinkware, vases, and bowls. Many customers even ask to purchase the items that they are watching being made at that very moment! This is a unique experience that turns your pewterware into a fun memory and conversation piece for years to come.
You will also see some antique pewter pieces from the Danforth family. For years, Danforth 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. Some of these items are still on display in the workshop store. We hope to see you here soon!
We get all our pewter from the Rhode Island-based company Oster Pewter, who sends us the raw material in the form of ingots and discs. Ingots are then melted down into liquid and poured into our vulcanized rubber casts, which form items like our earrings, necklaces, ornaments, frames, netsukes, keyrings, and magnets. The discs are mounted on our 100-year old lathe and then spun (almost like a pottery wheel) into what we call “hollowware” – oil lamps, tumblers, vases, cups, and candlesticks.
On a molecular level, pewter does contain traces of lead, but they are vanishingly small, and fall well below the national standard for what constitutes “containing lead.” That is why we refrain from claiming that our pewter is 100% lead-free – because, while the number of lead molecules in our metal is near negligible, it is more truthful to say it’s 99.999% lead-free. This is because tin and lead are often found together in the rocks from which tin is mined, and the extraction process is not perfect, so there are some traces of lead in the pewter we use.
Our pewter meets or exceeds all FDA food-safety standards as well as those of California, which are stricter. We ourselves eat and drink from Danforth pewter and proudly call it lead-free, knowing that it is perfectly safe.
Though certain conditions will cause pewter to oxidize and darken, such as regular handling and living near saltwater, pewter does not tarnish like silver and copper.
Pewter can be cleaned with warm soapy water, rinsed, then towel dried with a soft cloth. Do not wash pewter in an automatic dishwasher as the heat and detergent can be harmful to the piece.
There are various pewter cleaners and polishes available to maintain your pewter. Danforth recommends and sells Simichrome polish. It is a soft paste for virtually any metal. It cleans to a brilliant shine and leaves a protective film. When applying to satin-finished pieces, you will want to apply the polish following the grain otherwise the finish can come off over time.
Pewter should never be used in an oven, microwave, or on the stovetop and should not be exposed to a direct flame. This could cause melting and deform the piece.
Yes! Pewter does not rust or tarnish; nor does it cause harsh reactions. It is food-safe, lead-free, and nickel-free.
We do make custom pieces, yes, but with a minimum order of 300 pieces. If you are a business looking to commission a custom pewter design, please contact customer service. Customer Service can be reached at (800) 222-3142 x249 or at email@example.com.
If you are looking for a custom color job on an existing product, then you can order certain products (ones that already have added color) in a different color for a $10 fee. This is a popular choice for occasion-specific gifts, such as a bridal shower or a graduation, or for those who simply want one of our products in a different color.
Yes, we do repairs for Danforth and Shirley Pewter designs only. Please call Customer Service at (800) 222-3142 x249 to let us know you are sending something back to be repaired and to discuss a quote. There is a minimum fee of $20 and we charge $40/hour.
We are working on setting up a return label process. Until then, please call or email customer service, and we will create paperwork. Depending on the nature of the return, returns are made for refund in full/item or items only, or exchange. Some items are not eligible for returns: customized items, engraved items, oil lamps that have a burned wick, and oil lamps that have or have had oil in them. Customer Service can be reached at (800) 222-3142 x249 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some components come from out of the country, such as the oil lamp burners. Once it arrives here, everything is assembled here in our Middlebury workshop.
Yes. If you want to order 10 or more of the same item, you can get 10% off. Please call Customer Service to place your bulk order and receive this discount. Please note this discount is not available online or in-store at this time.
Engraving adds elegance, romance, and individuality to a gift. Adding a special name, date, initial, or quote can transform an already beautiful gift into one that is personal and irreplaceable. That’s why Danforth Pewter is proud to offer personalized engraving on many of our pieces, from picture frames and Christmas ornaments to money clips, barware, and even some of our oil lamps.
Our professional engraving staff will determine the location and position of the engraving unless it is otherwise specified. If you have a specific engraving setup in mind, please enter that information in the comments section at checkout. Otherwise, our engraving staff will size and position the engraving based on their best professional judgment and experience. For more info on engraving and to see videos of how it's done here in our workshop, click here.
We are proud of the quality of our pewter and stand behind every piece we produce. If you are not happy with your purchase from us for any reason, you may return it for a refund (with receipt), replacement, or exchange. For full information about our guarantee, click here.
- Retiring products, Snowflake Bentleys, gift cards, and one-of-a-kind designs are not included in discounts.
- Promos end at 11:59pm EST on the last day advertised unless otherwise stated.
- Promo codes cannot be applied to previous purchases or combined with other offers.
- All free or reduced shipping rates are only eligible in the continental US.
- All retired product sales are final.
- Unless otherwise stated, all online promotions are only valid online, not in stores.
- You must be logged into your Danforth account to be eligible to win drawings.
- If you have questions, please contact Customer Service at (800) 222-3142 x249, email@example.com, or by chatting with us on our website.
Due to the handcrafted nature of our products, orders may take up to 5 days for each piece to leave our Vermont workshop. Shipping times may vary based on carrier and time of year, though we always do our best to ship as quickly and safely as possible. For full and updated shipping information, please click here.
Yes, we do! If you are a retailer interested in selling our gifts at your stores, please visit our wholesale page for more info.
Check out our video tutorial on how to light an oil lamp, click here.
We recommend using firefly lamp oil, also known as paraffin oil. It is suited for traditional oil lamps and delivers superior odor-free burning. You can purchase firefly lamp oil from us here (available for ground shipping only because it is classified as a combustible fuel).
Yes! Please find our collection of lighting accessories, including glass chimneys and replacement wicks, here.
You can swap chimneys with other lamps that take the same size globe. Please note that the more you handle a lamp, the greater the risk of breaking, especially if adjusting the prongs often.
Glass chimneys are not interchangeable between different size lamps because the burners are different sizes.
We fit the glass chimneys to the lamps as the customers buy them. The lamps on display are already set. You have to fit the glass to the burner by moving the prongs with needle nose pliers so no, we wouldn't switch them automatically but can if asked by adjusting the burner.
We invite you to visit our flagship store on 52 Seymour Street in Middlebury, Vermont, which is attached to the workshop where we make all of our pewter goods. From here, you can look into the workshop and see our artisans pour ladles of hot melted pewter into molds for jewelry, ornaments, picture frames, netsukes, and magnets. You can also watch pewter discs as they spin on a 100-year-old lathe, while our artisans shape them into oil lamps, drinkware, vases, and bowls. Many customers even ask to purchase the items that they are watching being made at that very moment! This is a unique experience and turns your pewterware into a fun memory and conversation piece for years to come.
Some of our pieces are available in a variety of colors, such as our Windsor frames, Federal frames, and jewelry lines. Please visit our website for a full array of the colors available for these product lines.
If you are looking for a custom color job, then yes, we can also arrange that. Products that already have added color are available in a custom color for a $10 fee. This is a popular choice for occasion-specific gifts, such as a bridal shower or a graduation, or for those who simply want one of our products in a different color.
To order your custom color, please call or email Customer Service, or drop us a line through our Contact Page.
No. “One of a kind” refers to certain products that are made special – i.e., there is only one of them. You can find certain one-of-a-kind oil lamps, candlesticks, and other designs by visiting our retail stores. They are not available online.
Our oil lamps burn for approximately 3 hours per ounce of oil. This generally equates to:
- Large lamps burn around 60 hours
- Medium lamps burn around 24 hours
- Small lamps burn around 9 hours
Most likely, these items are worth the going price of the pewter, unless they have historical worth. In that case, it would need to be appraised through another channel. Danforth Pewter does not do appraisals, and we encourage you to contact a professional appraiser to determine the financial value of your pewter items.