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Pewter Repairs & Cleaning

Books might tell how to make a tea pot or jewellery but not how to effect simple repairs.
In reading through all the available PS journals from 1966 it was clear that many members did repairs but none confided in the journal how they did simple things - straighten rims, clean pot touches, clean areas round handle attachments, straighten footrims, emphasise engravings and hallmarks, knock out dents, re-fix handles (this last one perhaps not so simple!) etc.

To quote a very senior PS member with considerable experience and knowledge (writing about photography in this case - but applicable to these matters) – "my learning curve could have been shortened by other people in the know - which never happened".

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.

Amateur Pewter Repairs & Improvements (hopefully)

The illustration shows - 4 wooden rim straighteners (gill, 1/2 pint, quart) 6-8 inches long each of them, 2 rubber or composition hammers, fabric to hammer against between hammer and pewter piece - actually a scrap of brown table protector - pair of pliers with some of said fabric glued to jaws (and well used now),two rods - one with a ball bearing ending welded to the rod (used for knocking out dents in mugs from the inside), one with a disc - this shape is useful for footrims (as well as dents)

Books might tell how to make a tea pot or jewellery but not how to effect simple repairs. I have been trying to do these repairs with clues picked up from various contacts. With no DIY background and no natural aptitude or previous experience, nevertheless set out hereunder is what I have found and others are welcome to offer corrections or further guidance – which can be passed on to all those interested.
From the queries received in revamping my collection it was apparent that a lot of collectors would like to know more. This was especially brought to mind by an Australian correspondent who had a delivery which arrived having been dropped badly and was clearly without information as to how to try to solve the problems.

Alex Neish (an important collector and authority) recently wrote that the definitive articles on repairs were those by Stanley Shemmell in the 1983 issues of the journal. Those articles dealt with hot metal work and the preparation and finishing for that work. Not having reached that stage yet - the basic repairs this article concerns itself do not involve solder work or similar hot metal work. Whilst those instructions were good, many collectors would welcome a demonstration they could watch.

Who is Albert Bartram (a past president of The Pewter Society and perhaps the only remaining pewterer – though now over retiring age – working with early Pewter) going to pass his skills to? For who else is able to effect quality repairs? Perhaps he would consider his role in Pewter - as a celebrity chef might to cooking - in say organising paid day courses on pewter work. Many members may be very interested in learning from him.

Early Warning! - a leading author and collector over many years on reading this article commented on those Flaky oxided Plates and Mugs etc as follows –

The issue about flaking oxide is that not everyone will start with electrolysis, and could then find that having pushed, squeezed and variously hammered their pewter, they now have a dismal looking items with grey scars where the oxide has come away. I learnt this the hard way, and would not want any well intended advice to cause others to suffer!!