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Marks on Pewter Plates and Rims

This is intended to introduce Pewter Marks to casual or recent collectors
This is not comprehensive, or definitive and may only lead the reader to ask for better guidance – and some attempt to find that for the reader will be given later. Pewter plates and mugs…. (generally it is said that a tankard has a lid)…. have a variety of marks on them. For me some of these marks are works of art, some are confusing, and when I began I wondered what they all meant. (Postage stamps offer art work and interest and so even more personally do the marks on pewter.)

The Pewter Society, and a number of books, will lead you to a better understanding, perhaps. But all I want to do is enthuse you, show you what I enjoy, and lead you to where you might want to find out more for yourself.

My working practice on marks

To do this I intend to start by taking a plate – showing you firstly a photograph of it – and then showing you the Marks – that might be of interest to you - ( as to style, value, science, and market, I leave these matters to elsewhere on this web site or later I might guide you to others who can help answer your queries – this then is simply the Marks on the pewter piece – a beginners guide.)

The Plate

What is it? – it is said to be a Multi reeded (the lines and the edge)

9 inches diameter (about 23 cms). A quick examination of the front shows some Marks in need of translation

Hall Marks

known as Hall Marks (4 of them that look like they were put there separately - rather than altogether) and were likely made by the Maker of the plate. Early Pewterers got into trouble for imitating the goldsmiths and silversmiths by putting (false) Hall Marks on their goods.

Here we have 4 such marks –

1. Lion Passant – lion walking across towards the left, there could be a dot of some sort underneath ( aka a lozenge)
2. An animal face – tradition says this is a Leopard’s face
3. An Early Tudor Alphabet letter small ‘S’ (sometimes known as a Black letter or a Gothic letter – why here? – I haven’t got a clue - but it meant something to -)
4. W H - the maker - (2 small marks above and one below – just for effect.)

Ask the Pewter Society data Base (what is that? – wait, later..) who is this - and they know!

This is William Haward/Hayward (called himself - William Howard) working 1673 – 1688 in Drury Lane London - you can find who his apprentices were, and that he came from Gloucester and may have been related to other Hawards (whatever spelling) there in Gloucester. He died in 1688 – certainly his will was proved then.

So this plate - how about that it is made in – say perhaps 1681? – and thus it is, in 2008 - some 327 years old

We could even tell the Pewter Society that their drawing (the record on their web site) has an incorrect F (as I have the plate and its real marks).

Triad Marks

followed by - and as here - on the opposite side of the plate rim the Ownership Triad, We move on to the three initials on the opposite side to the hall marks – OWNER’S MARKS

A triad of T over H A - these are the owner’s marks.

It is said this represents a married couple –

For example it could be (I am only guessing – I do not know)

‘Henry and Ann Thomas’

As I haven’t got a clue for sure, I move on swiftly to see any marks on the back, and I find the following -

Marks to Rear

This is surely the worn and scraggy remains of

this drawing that the Pewter Society hold in their records from something someone else could see and recorded as -

Now it either works for you or it doesn’t.

To me, here we have a piece of Pewter that is an Art Work in itself. It was first used in the later 1600s - likely as not by a Yeoman family expressing their station in their society saying that they had Pewter Plates not wood because they had progressed and improved themselves. They put their initials on it so it would be certain whose it was. The maker was proud enough of his work to endorse the front with his (false but traditional) Hall Marks (including his initials) and the back with his own personal touch marks.

As a work of Art the front is finely balanced in all aspects and very pleasing – it is a shame that there are so many wear marks and age spots - as for a serious (and more anxious) collector it is less than perfect – but if perfect would it ever have been used?
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