Citizen Staff Writer
TREASURES & TRENDS
Question: I have a pewter platter that is unmarked. I have no plans to sell it since the piece has been in my family since the 19th century. What exactly is pewter and is it still collected? – June, Tucson
Answer: Pewter is a silver-grey-colored alloy of tin that is combined with small amounts of lead, copper, antimony and bismuth. This allows smiths to shape products more easily while the hardness of the metal also increases. Even though pewter was known to the ancient Chinese, Egyptians, and Romans, it was the British who popularized it during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. American pewter was made after the American Revolution, when the embargo on tin was lifted. Although pewter is still made to a limited degree, it fell out of vogue during the Victorian era.
People throughout the world still collect pewter. Recent eBay auction prices showed a large charger, “unmarked but early”, $110; a pair of candlesticks crafted in about 1845 by Henry Hopper, $250; a coffee pot and tea service, 19th century and of German origin, $400; and an early Swiss tankard, $200. Pewter can be found in Tucson shops at prices that are often well below book value.
A good general reference that features pewter, silver, aluminum, brass, chrome and copper items is The Antique Trade Metalwares Price Guide, edited by Kyle Husfloen (Krause, $17.95). This handy guide has more than 4,000 entries and 1,000 images, some in full color and includes virtually every major type of collectible metal. I also highly recommend The Pewter Collectors Club of America, Inc., 304 W. Lafayette St., West Chester, PA 19380.
I have several boxes of older National Geographic magazines. Where can I sell them? – Ben, Tucson
Contact Don Smith, who has bought and sold National Geographic magazines since 1969 and has written a price guide for collectors. It is $12 postpaid. His address and telephone number are 3930 Rankin St., Louisville, KY 40214, and 502-366-7504.
In addition to his work for the Tucson Citizen, Larry Cox writes book reviews and a weekly collectibles column that are syndicated by King Features and distributed throughout the United States and Canada. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have a Victorian fan I would like to have appraised. Any suggestions? – Ruth, Green Valley
Dorothy Fowler is an officer of the Fan Association of North America and she might be able to help you. Her contact information is P.O. Box 24118, St. Simons Island, GA 31522, FANAPublicRelations@ fanassociation.org