Pewter is commonly found in a wide variety of utensils and decorations, including common household items like pots, flatware, mugs, candlesticks, and decorative elements. If you have pewter items in your home, they may be worth more than you realize. Antique and vintage pewter items can command high rates from the right buyers. Even if your pewter item itself isn’t worth much for its craftsmanship, melted pewter can still sell for a surprising sum.
What’s Covered in This Article:
How Much Is Pewter Worth? Is Pewter Worth Anything?
What Is Pewter Worth Today? How Does the Price of Pewter Fluctuate?
How Do You Identify Valuable Pewter?
How and Where Can You Sell Pewter?
How Much Is Pewter Worth?
So what is pewter worth? Pewter is mostly composed of tin, and the prices for tin are typically between $7 and $10 per pound. When selling for scrap, you can expect to get roughly 50% of the current price — so scrap pewter, therefore, is generally worth around $3 to $5 per pound at a scrap yard. This material doesn’t hold as much intrinsic value as, say, melted silver. However, there is a lucrative market for pewter kitchen items and decorations. Examples of these include tankards, mugs, salad ware, flatware, pots, or candlesticks. Pewter antiques or collectibles, depending on their age and condition, can sell for as much as $2,000-$30,000, says Garrett Goldfield from San Diego Appraisers. According to Goldfield’s article in the San Diego Bulletin, antique or collectible pewter items are more valuable than the current melt value of silver. So is pewter worth anything? Yes, but it’s only worth a large sum if it’s in its original form.
Does the Price of Pewter Fluctuate? Might It Be Worth More, or Less, in the Future?
The price of pewter is going to fluctuate in relation to its age, form, and the current market. Clearly, scrap pewter isn’t going to be of much value to anyone. That price doesn’t fluctuate much. But pewter kitchenware is a different story. In today’s market, the value of contemporary pewter is going down, but for rarer or older pieces, value is only appreciating. As a rule, the older the pewter, the more valuable it is.
What Can You Do if You Have Pewter to Sell?
The best way to sell pewter is through your nearest certified antique dealer or through antique fairs. The Pewter Society holds two auctions a year exclusive to members. Antique dealers have the expertise to appraise the item and give you a ballpark selling figure. When navigating antique fairs, keep an eye out for true pewter specialists, otherwise the best items or prices may not actually be available.
There are also several online resources for pewter sale, such as pewtersellers.com and pewtersociety.org (mentioned above). Online auction sites like eBay are another great way to sell. Selling on Craigslist doesn’t get the audience reach you need in order to sell this specialty metal for a decent price.
Identifying Marks on Pewter
You can determine if you have a valuable antique by identifying certain marks. Capacity marks such as the words “pint” or “quart” became required by law in 1836, so they are a good indicator of age.
Pewterer marks include any mark made by the pewterer or their company, examples being touch marks or quality marks. Touch marks, usually being a thumb or fingerprint in the pewter itself, are made by the pewterer as a sign of their trade. These can be very advantageous when marketing a piece as an antique. Quality marks like a crowned rose or crowned X were used in the 16th century to identify the highest quality metal. There are many different variations of these quality marks, so do some extra contextual research for individual pieces.
Even if a pewter piece doesn’t have markings, that doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable. According to the Pewter Society, many high-quality pewter pieces weren’t marked at all.
Beware of Fakes and Forgeries
Depending on the type of reproduction, some items may or may not have been made to deceive buyers. Know the terminology for reproductions so you can spot genuine collectibles.
For instance, the term “reproduction” in this case means the item is made following the same production methods and using the same materials as older models. “Forgeries” are usually made from molds of real collectibles, so they carry all the same blemishes and marks. And the third category, “fakes”, are most commonly authentic, unmarked items that have been illegitimately marked. Fakes could also have been decorated to appear antique.
If It Isn’t Worth Much Melted Down, What Types of Pewter Items Are Valuable?
Antique kitchenware and figurines can sell for surprising amounts of money. The most popular kitchenware items are tankards or pots. There are many different types of pewter tankards, so it is best to know which features belong to an antique era. For example, the earliest known pewter tankards had thumb pieces instead of footed rims or handles. These older models will fetch the highest price on the market.
When it comes to figurines, most figurine companies like Chilmark used pewter due to its pliability and aged appearance. Some popular figurines were those depicting stage coaches or cowboys. An antique figurine in good condition could sell for as much as a few thousand dollars.
Where Could a Person Sell These Pewter Items?
Geographical factors are going to play a large role in how well an antique may sell. It is usually best to sell the pewter in its country of manufacture; this is where the most interested buyers and best prices will be found. Pewter made in the British Isles will sell well in any English speaking country, but American pewter is going to sell best in the United States. Within the United States, markets are going to vary based on region. For example, pewter from the Midwest will sell best there, while eastern or southern pewter sells best nearer the Atlantic.
One way to effectively market pewter is to invest in good photography. A quality photo of the item can make or break a sale. Photographs should include advantageous lighting and sharp focus to accentuate color and texture. The surface condition of the pewter is very important to buyers, so take notice of dents, scratches, or random patches of corrosion; these will decrease the value of the object. On the other hand, a thorough chemical cleaning, some polishing, and the proper discoloration can be major selling points. Also, don’t forget to call attention to any touch or capacity marks to ensure authenticity.
How Much Is Pewter Worth? Final Thoughts
Pewter is composed mainly of tin and doesn’t have the metallurgical value of silver or gold, but it can be worth a significant sum depending on its age, condition, and manufacturer. Check for the proper marks and then sell on to either an antique dealer or eBay for your two easiest options. So how much is pewter worth? Depends on the buyer.