Dating pewter spoons
Chuckatuck is a locality in Isle of Wight County, Virginia.
The fact that only a long-buried fragment apparently remains of seventeenth century workmanship is not surprising when one remembers the fragile nature of this alloy.
By 1437 the pewterers of Montpellier were making dishes and salt cellars of an alloy that adhered to two established formulas.
In turn, Limoges, Nuremberg, and other European cities saw the establishment of chartered guilds. The English pewterers were divided into three classes: sadware men, who made plates, porringers, and platters; ley men, whose product was largely spoons and other cast pieces; and triflers, who produced salt cellars and other small articles.
That the American home had at least a few pieces among its furnishings during those years has long been evident from contemporary references, wills, and inventories.
There is also mention of pewterers, such as the unruly Richard Graves of Salem, Massachusetts, whose talent for running counter to law and order seems to have far outstripped that of his trade; but it has been a question as to whether any of them were more than importers or repairers of the alloy.
The first formula of the London guild, established by decree of 1474, was as much brass to tin "as it wol receiuve of his nature." Then, the formula shifted to twenty-six pounds of brass to a hundredweight of tin. Its last stand in both England and America was the teapot, candlestick, and lamp.
Then came the Revolutionary War and before France began to supply the needed munitions material for bullets was so scarce that into the melting pots went every scrap of lead the patriots could find.
Dampness, cold, and rough handling take a heavy toll; and direct heat of a fire can shortly make a molten pool of any pewter piece.
In fact, spedmens of even pre-Revolutionary pewter are comparatively rare, not only from natural causes but for two other reasons.
By the middle of the eighteenth century the colonists had become sufficiently prosperous to afford home furnishings up to the English standards of the day.
And they were becoming conscious of their Americanism, so that gradually the home product gained preference.