Following are dozens of practical tips for how to clean Pewter naturally, cheaply and quickly using common non-toxic household ingredients.
There are specific cleaning and polishing tips for the 3 classes of Pewter (Polished Pewter, Satin Pewter and Oxidized Pewter) as well as a short video and tips for how to research and value older rarer Pewter collectibles lower down this page:
Pewter is a soft metal alloy of tin (85–99%), antimony (approx. 5–10%), copper (2%), bismuth, and sometimes a little silver. Pewter is soft like lead and thus can be easily scratched or bent.
Copper and antimony are added in as hardeners, though Pewter is relatively soft and malleable nevertheless.
The metal atoms at the surface of Pewter alloys can react with Oxygen gas in the air to form metal oxides which will add a dull patina to Pewter items over time.
The above polishing tips will help gently remove dirt and oxides, thus rejuvinating your Pewter's appearance, but without damaging intended aesthetic or value.
There is a healthy market for old pewter items. Thousands of pewter collectors are willing to pay big bucks for rarer pewter items.
Antique and vintage pewter items such as old pewter pots, pewter tankards, pewter figurines, and pewter kitchenware can be worth hundreds or thousands of dollars.
This is why it's so important to follow the above tips for how to clean pewter properly so as not to damage and devalue older and possibily more valuable pewter items.
As with old coins, physically or chemically scrubbing away the aged patina of an Oxidized antique pewter item can greatly devalue the piece.
Incidentally, if you have SCRAP PEWTER and just want to know how much you can expect to get in pewter scrap value, then look up the current price of Tin metal and divide it by half. That is roughly how pewter scrap price is calculated. Currently scrap pewter may earn you around $3 to $5 per pound. But always call your local scrap yard for up to date price of pewter scrap.
To research the value of your more collectible pewter items, check the piece for maker's marks, artist name, exchange hallmarks, labels, catalog numbers, capacity markings, quality markings or touch marks (thumb, fingerprint or initials) which are often found on the bottom of the piece or elsewhere.
Here is an excellent resource on Pewterer's marks and pewter makers by the Pewter Society
On older pewter drinking vessels, capacity markings showing how much a cup or tankard will hold is often a clue the vessel may be as old as the mid to late 1800's.
But keep in mind some of the most valuable older pewter antique items sometimes have no markings at all. For example, British and Irish pewter items were often unmarked.
How to Estimate Value of Pewter Collectibles Via Comparable Prices on Ebay Sold Listings
You can compare any markings and your style of pewter item to items that have already been sold on Ebay in order to get a rough idea of possible historical provenance and value range.
Into your browser's address bar type in Ebay.com and enter, or click here to be taken directly to Ebay's current antique pewter listings .
The following instructions are based on the device I use most when researching items at Ebay...my laptop or Chromebook. If you try to apply these tips using a mobile device, then Ebay's mobile app may require you to find the described menus and options within the mobile version.
At Ebay type into the search box at the top of the page a detailed description of the pewter item you are trying to value.
Then click the "Search" button.
This will bring up a list of currently listed for-sale items which are hopefully similar to your's. You can research similar listed items to learn more about your pewter item's possible history and specifics. But NEVER base value of pewter collectibles on current listing ask prices because anyone can ask anything for an item. But that does not mean it will sell for that!
It's no surprise the listing prices asked for are often elevated relative to the prices the items ultimately sell for.
So ... you want to consider what antique pewter items actually SOLD for to assertain a more realistic possible value based on what people were willing to recently pay for pewter items similar to your's.
Here's how you convert this list of currently for-sale pewter items with sellers' asking prices, into a list of already sold pewter items showing what bid price sellers actually accepted from interested pewter buyers ...
Scroll down the page. On the lower left margin of the Ebay search results page below all the other refine search options, click "More Filters" => in the popup option box click "Show Only" => check off "Completed items" and "Sold items" boxes => click the "Apply" button at the bottom right of popup box. This will convert the pewter for-sale list, into a list of sold pewter items with many items that are hopefully very similar or identical to your item (s) of interest.
Tip: I recommend you convert the list into "gallery view" to see more items per page. Click the small list icon at upper right of the list. Chose "gallery view".
Click on the listings showing pewter items identical or very similar to the items you are trying to value. Read the listing descriptions for more possible details about your item and view the images to see if maker's marks match your item. The more details you have about your pewter object, the better you can refine your solds search for closer matches.
Valuation Tip 1: As an experienced Ebay seller of vintage and antique items, in my experience I find Ebay sold prices are often discounted from sales prices at other online platforms and markets.
So it's possible any valuation you arrive at based on Ebay solds may in fact be a low ball base estimate valuation for any particular item. Your pewter may be worth more than what similar items previously sold for on Ebay, depending on how / where you ultimately might sell the item.
The benefit of Ebay is scope, it is by far one of the largest and most visited online reselling platforms.
Valuation Tip 2: If any sold item listings on Ebay show the number of "bids" below the sold price, this mean the item was sold using Ebay's auction method rather than a fixed price "buy it now" style listing. I've noticed that often the items sold on Ebay via the auction method frequently sell for significantly less than actual value. So I'd recommend ignoring most of the auction sold items when trying to determine value.
I'm often astonished how frequently valuable items are auctioned off for only 99 cents at Ebay because that was the only bid the seller got, and they for whatever reason didn't place a minimum reserve price on the item auction. If you know how to work the auctions and snipe items as the only bidder, you can score some great deals on Ebay.
But where valuation is concerned, these low ball auction solds might skew perceived estimated market valuations if you consider these anomolies in any consideration of item value. So statistically speaking, throw out these statistical outliers when looking for comparable sales.
Valuation Tip 3: The above tips for finding out how much older or rarer pewter collectibles may be worth are also valid for estimating value of ANY other items (old or new). If it sells, chances are you will find a sales history of the item on Ebay. Use these tips so you do not pay too much for something, or sell something too low.
The older the Pewter item, the more likely a higher Lead content may be. Antiquity Pewter consisted of tin alloyed with Lead and at times Copper. Lead was added to antique Pewter alloys to also impart hardness, though lower quality modern Pewter items may also contain higher Lead levels. Heavier Pewter that seems to tarnish faster and having a bluish tint or dark silver-grayish tint may have a higher Lead content. Pewter items with more of a bronze appearance may have a lower lead content. But it's safest to assume all pewter may contain lead.
Since Lead is a toxic metal, particularly to children, beware of Lead poisoning from older or poorer quality Pewter or Pewter with a bluish patina.
Keep Pewter away from children to be safe and do not consume food or drink from any object suspected to have elevated levels of Lead. Avoid inhaling or contaminating areas with fine particles of dust shed from Lead containing items, for example while polishing or buffing Pewter. And wash hands thoroughly after handling Leaded Pewter, and / or limit contact with skin.
Lead-free Pewter is common in newer pieces, but some newer Pewter items are still manufactured with higher Lead levels.
Tip: Read product details and product reviews carefully to be sure any metal polishing compound is safe for the specific use as a polish for your pewter items.
Some harsh chemicals and abrasives, such as in Bar Keepers Friend, may damage your pewter items and are NOT recommended for polishing pewter.
And for the class of pewter known as Oxidized Pewter, it is recommend that you NEVER polish it. Follow the above specific pewter cleaning tips instead.