Pewter: More Than Pretty Christmas Ornaments

When Christmas comes around, it is time to bring out the decorations. Among the newer ones to replace last years, are those that stay with the family. Pewter Christmas ornaments fall into this category. Like the metal from which they are created, these ornaments are kept and treasured over time.

What Is Pewter?

Pewter is a metal alloy composed mainly of tin. Other metals that comprise this mixture are copper, lead and antinomy. These additions were intended to make the tin more durable and stronger. Today, because of its toxicity, lead no longer makes its way into this alloy that is responsible for providing us with some wonderful ornamental work. In fact, this alloy has proven itself versatile over the centuries providing everything from functional teapots to ornamental pewter Christmas ornaments.

A Brief History of Pewter

Pewter is a product of the centuries. It dates back to at least l45O B.C. A pewter flask was found in an Egyptian tomb from this dynastic period. However, we are more aware of its existence during the time of Julius Caesar. Roman soldiers sought to invade Britain to take over the tin mines from the Celts. The pewter items from this period from the 2nd century A.D. are exquisite.

Yet, the Roman Eagles fled in the 5th century. While technology remained, it was not until the 12th and 13th centuries that pewter began to make inroads into British society. By the 14th, it had its craft guild to create products – mainly for the more wealthy classes. Items formed from pewter during this period included:

* Jugs

* Plates

* Buttons

* Pilgrim badges

* Tankards

* Wine cups

* Inkwells

* Candlesticks

* Spoons

Many of these items became family heirlooms. Others have long since vanished, melted down or reworked into other objects, including, perhaps, pewter Christmas ornaments.

Pewter Arrives in America

In Colonial America, among the earliest craftsmen were those who could produce pewter items. They handcrafted a variety of practical and decorative items for use by the different classes. At this point, pewter still contained lead. This was eventually removed. Today, lead-free pewter is used to create items that range from candlesticks to tea sets to ornaments.

Pewter Christmas Ornaments

Today, you can purchase items that have the soft, subdued patina of pewter. Its simple elegance endows any product with grace. For a truly memorable gift, or to start a family tradition, one of the best gifts to mark the season is ornaments. In fact, pewter Christmas ornaments are gifts that continue to provide your family with memories – of all the holidays gone by and those to come.

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