Pewter—known as "peltro" in Italian—has a long history of human use. The earliest known piece was recovered from an Egyptian tomb and dates to about 1450 BC. Pewter was later used widely in the Roman Empire, throughout Europe, England and in America. It was commonly used for food service items but also in decorative applications. In the 1700's, commercial-scale production of ceramic alternatives promoted the movement away from pewter dishes and bowls.
Pewter is an alloy (that is, blend of metals) consisting mostly of tin, some antimony, and smaller quantities of copper, bismuth and sometimes silver. Old pewter often included lead which gave it a wonderfully dark, bluish tone. Alas, any bowls, plates or utensils made of leaded pewter would eventually poison the user (a condition known as "Plumbism"). Lead's dangerous nature was recognized centuries ago, though banning it has been long in coming. It was only in the 1970's that lead paint was banned in the United States. Lead soldering in food cans was banned in 1995. And leaded gas was banned in 1996. Alas, lead water pipes continue to supply many houses throughout the country.
This little Italian bucket is made of lead-free pewter. Nevertheless, it would be best used to hold matches, paperclips or cotton swabs. Click the photo above to learn more about it.
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques (www.mahlaantiques.com) or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only). 917-446-4248