20th Century Pewter

The 20th Century began in good times. A prosperous middle class meant manufacturers were looking at new and inexpensive ways to mass-produce up-market domestic household items. At the start of the Arts and Crafts movement everything was made by hand and reserved for the wealthy. Something new was needed. Pewter is very versatile and malleable and was well suited to the Art Nouveau style. Modern pewter was composed of tin, antimony and copper. Pewter also became very popular in Germany and England as a material for domestic items.

German pewter

 

Several small German firms were working predominately in pewter at the turn of the 20th century including Kayserzinn in Berlin, Orivit in Cologne, Walter Scherf & Co (Osiris) in Nuremberg and WMF. Orivit was founded in 1894 and produced pewterware in 1897. Their pewter was often combined with glass in bowls.

They produced many designs with floral and naturalistic forms. They were bought out by WMF in about 1905

Orivit Jugendstil bowl

Orivit Jugendstil bowl

£125

Orivit Jugendstil calling card tray

Orivit Jugendstil calling card tray

£120

The market leader in Germany was Wurttembergische Metallwaren Fabric (WMF)  WMF mass-produce pewter items and distributed worldwide. Between 1895 and 1910 WMF dominated the market in the production of artistic domestic metalware. Founded in 1853 by Daniel Straub, it became WMF in 1880 when it merged with another German company. In the late part of the 19th-century demand for artistic metalware was at its peak. WMF shifted most of its work to pewter. They were innovative and captured the public’s interest in Art Nouveau and Secessionist styles. They created an enormous range of objects for the table.

As well as luxurious items for ladies' dressing tables, there were sophisticated items for gentlemen's desks and smokers accessories.

WMF Jugendstil dish
WMF Jugendstil inkwell 

WMF Jugendstil inkwell 

£450

WMF Jugendstil dish

sold

English pewter

 

The name of Liberty has represented a high standard of quality for over a century. Arthur Lasenby Liberty founded this great London emporium in 1875. He was a master at marketing and could capture the publics changing mood and taste. Liberty encapsulated the Arts and Crafts movement but at a more affordable price,  He began his infatuation with pewter at the turn of the 20th century and stocked items from WMF and Orivit.

 

He then saw the commercial opportunity in manufacturing his own range of pewter and struck up a deal with William Hassler & Co of Birmingham who were commissioned to supply a range of artistic pewter-ware. He financed the expansion of Haseler’s workshop which developed the capacity to produce leadless pewter. This new type of pewter was made up of 94.6% tin, 4.2% antimony, 0.79% copper and 0.28% silver. He wanted to get rid of the Germanic influence and produce a British rival. He named this range Tudric.

Liberty recognised new innovative designs and worked with The Silver Studio. Some of the earliest production pieces of Liberty pewter were based on designs by David Veasey who worked there. Individual designers at Liberty were not allowed to overshadow the company name so items are rarely signed by the artist.

David Veasey for Liberty & Co. Tudric pewter clock

David Veasey for Liberty & Co. Tudric pewter and Powell glass claret jug (£2,950), and clock

£3,950

David Veasey for Liberty & Co. Tudric pewter and Powell glass claret jug

Archibald Knox started his relationship with Liberty through The Silver Studio. Knox came from the Isle of Man and used his Celtic roots to influence his style. He uses many plant motifs and has a clean Modernist shape.

Liberty pewter was polished and had a hammered finish. They offered candlesticks, bowls, vases,  jugs and tableware. They later added handmade enamels putting enamel onto the pewter.

 

Another first wave designer at Liberty’s was Oliver Baker who had a traditional style and made jewellery and buckles in pewter and enamel.

Archibald Knox Tudric pewter milk jug

£350

Oliver Baker Liberty tulip vase
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