In the old days, pewter often contained lead. Adding lead was a cheap way to give heft and a rich color to the alloy. Unfortunately, lead is poisonous when ingested. But it does give antique pewter items a beautiful deep velvety-grey patina. Modern pewter rarely includes lead, especially items which might be used for foodservice. Because pewter items tend to command moderate-to-high prices, there is little reason for modern pewterers to "cut" their alloys with the cheap and heavy toxic metal. Still, because there is no hard and fast date after which lead was banned, it is best to be cautious about feeding children directly from an antique pewter item.
The English pewter tray, above, is referred to as "transitional" as it straddles two aesthetic periods and exhibits characteristics of both (Arts & Crafts and Art Deco). The hand-hammering and the elongate Gothic "quatrefoil" shape are both Arts & Crafts features while the stepped, Art Deco handles provide a clue to its slightly later date of manufacture. Click on 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