The Magic of Metal: Pewter

Natural History and Folklore

During the Renaissance and Medieval times this metal was one of the most commonly used, though in recent times it has become more rare. This metal is mostly tin (anywhere from 80% to 99%) The rest of this metal is usually, antimony, copper or sometimes lead (though lead is absent from modern pewter for obvious safety reasons.)

The name pewter is likely a variation of the word ‘spelter’ which is a traditional name for zinc and zinc alloys. Pewter began to be used around the Bronze Age and the earliest piece was found in an Egyptian tomb from 1450 BC.

Chemical Information/ Toxicity
Chemical Symbol: N/A           Melting Point:  170*C /330*F
Atomic Number: N/A             Boiling Point:

As long as your pewter is free of lead, it is safe to keep on your skin or to eat and drink from it.

Physical Properties

A malleable and ductile metal with either a bluish white surface or a bright finish. Pewter is tarnish resistant, keeping its color indefinitely. Most pewter work is unornamented, but those used for display purposes are painted, inlaid with other metals, gilded or enameled. It’s low melting point and ductility make it ideal for shaping and crafting.

Pewter can be cleaned with normal household chemicals and small surface imperfections can be fixed with a simple steel wool pad. Acids, however, over long periods of time an tarnish the metal.

Practical Uses

Pewter was used in tableware by the Egyptians and the Romans, then all the way into the Middle Ages, when it was eventually replaced by pottery and glassware. Some of the most familiar pewter items are lidded and unlidded tankards. More often it is used in collectible statuettes today. Also, since it has a low melting point, pewter is used for candlesticks and jewelry. This makes pewter items less than ideal for being in locations with high heat, such as ovens.

Magical Associations/ Uses

This metal (along with copper and cast iron) is most often related to kitchen witchcraft, stemming from its traditional use in plates, cutlery, and flagons. Traditionally it is associated with ‘common’ magic as opposed to higher magics (i.e. energy work, spirit work, alchemy and the like). It is believed that potions/ brews/ tinctures of any kind work better when brewed in pewter, the same goes for any magical cooking you do.

Due to its connection to decorations throughout history, tin can be used in glamour magics. Used in bronze and other alloys, this might be a good metal to use in magics for softening things, or in magic that needs a softer touch.

Correspondences

  • Protection
  • Home and Family
  • Illumination
  • Divination
  • Softening
  • Zodiac: Capricorn
  • Planet: Saturn

Fun Facts

Pewter is the fourth most precious metal in the world.

Pewter dissolves in hydrochloric acid, producing tin chloride

Pewter is less expensive than silver, but shares its color and shine

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