What Is Pewter?

Pewter is a metal alloy, which means it’s a blend of several types of metal—usually tin, copper, and antimony. Pewter is easy to work and extremely versatile, which lends itself to a variety of uses, from sturdy picture frames to lightweight, detailed jewelry. At Danforth, we pride ourselves in our expertise in the traditional ways of working with pewter, as well as pioneering new ways of working with it—which is why you’ll find such innovative and unique designs here that you won’t see anywhere else!

Modern pewter contains no lead and therefore is safe for food and drink, meeting or exceeding FDA food safety standards as well as the stricter California safety standards. Danforth led the way in the use of lead-free solder, making our workshop one of the first completely lead-free pewter workshops in the world.

Danforth only uses the highest quality pewter available. It is hypoallergenic and nickel-free, so it is an excellent choice for everyday and special-occasion jewelry and accessories.

Things we love about pewter:

  • Pewter items will last for generations if cared for properly.
  • Pewter develops a distinctive, warm patina the more it is handled, giving each piece an individual personality over time without compromising its quality or usability.
  • Pewter is more affordable than silver, and it never rusts or tarnishes. 
“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.” 
--Tim Copeland, lead designer

Why is pewter used for home goods and jewelry?

Today, pewter is a popular choice for many household goods, home décor, and personal accessories because it is durable, stylish, and complements a wide variety of styles, from modern to vintage to bohemian.

Thomas Danforth II opened a pewter workshop in Middletown, Connecticut in 1755, and generations of the Danforth family have since followed him into the trade. 

Here at Danforth, we use pewter in two ways:

  • We cast many items, which involves heating pewter ingots until they are molten, and then pouring the molten metal carefully into molds. Every cast piece is then hand-finished. This is how we make detailed jewelry, ornaments, animal figurines, and other similar items.
  • Other artisans in our shop spin the pewter into what's called "holloware." That is, they start with disks of pewter mounted onto a lathe, and then spin them into the striking vases, lamps, bowls, cups, barware, candlesticks and plates that you see on display in our stores.

Where does Danforth get their pewter?

Danforth gets all our pewter from two foundries in Rhode Island, who send us the raw material in the form of ingots and discs. 

Does pewter contain lead?

All American pewter became lead-free over 75 years ago, and as noted above, all Danforth Pewter meets or exceeds FDA standards for food safety and baby products.

More accurately, on a molecular pewter does contain traces of lead, but they are vanishingly small, and fall well below the national standard for what constitutes “lead-free.” 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. 

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