What does the above tell us? Perhaps that like all else in life it pays to know what you are doing. Also that the opportunity is perhaps there to own very desirable and scarce pieces. It also tells us the obvious that there is considerable value for what the market wants and little or no value for what it doesn’t. I still find considerable enjoyment and admire well made and well designed pieces that I know have no real market value at all.
If you attend an auction you will see that the average age of pewter buyers is …old. Yes there are a very few younger collectors (let us say under 50) but most are old (let us say at least over 60). So the better collections are often in the hands of far older collectors. If younger people who inherit do not want it (and most do not) then it will be sold off.
So in the short term good collections are likely to come to market and those collectors in their 60s will support the prices until the volume for sale overcomes the market.
In Australia and New Zealand pewter collecting is unusual – indeed some dealers view pewter as they would the ‘black death’ to the antiques trade - and there I quote a significant dealer of quality (but more politely than his actual words).
Contrary wise then this could be a good time for younger people to take an interest and to buy. As firstly good antique pewter, will be coming on to the market as the ‘oldies’ die off. Secondly the prices are and will continue for some time to be depressed. Although it is clear that the market is still now supported by those in their 60s (usually late 60s) improving their collections, by buying the very best.
There is a real delight to be had in good antique pewter and as a collector I do believe that this pleasure in our ancestors every day use of the real ‘Applied Arts’ will be rediscovered by generations yet to start collecting.
But then that is simply my opinion.
THE PATINA QUESTION AND VALUE – a frequently asked question
The Patina question has different answers depending on where you are. A leading expert in the UK only keeps for himself those very good pieces with a naturally very darkened patina (but not pitted or damaged). Others in the UK and AUS prefer them slightly (but only a little) polished - ie the grey/dark grey - glows.
In the USA many seem to like them absolutely clean to an almost burnished aluminium or a silvery look.
To see what I mean first find www.hiltpewter.com
and enjoy their USA pewter web site.
Then compare that with a UK based site www.pewtersellers.com Even in the UK I have one contact who likes his pewter to resemble silver and goes to extreme lengths to clean it like that both inside and out! He says that is what it was originally made to look like.
So I can give no definitive answer on taste or value. If you are thinking of selling; then to see what the market you might sell in pays better for, is always a somewhat simple answer – otherwise just please yourself, and enjoy your pewter the way you prefer it!