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Topic: Pewter as cup material
Message: Posted by: Chessmann (Dec 9, 2010 12:19PM)

If a pewter cup were to be struck hard enough to cause damage, with the result be more likely to be a chip (small piece that comes completely apart from the cup) or dent? I have always thought of pewter as a brittle material that would chip, rather than dent, but I could easily be wrong. As far as I know, there could be lots of variables.

Thanks -
Message: Posted by: Donnie Buckley (Dec 9, 2010 12:41PM)
Interesting topic.
I'm working with pewter in a couple of weeks, I just bought a bunch of it to make a batch of PF Mini and Mini Combo cups.
I'm hoping they won't dent too eaily. I have cups made from Pewter - Jefferson cups and they are beautiful.
It is easy to spin though.
I've never heard anything about chipping being a problem.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Dec 9, 2010 12:50PM)
A lot of what the public calls pewter really isn't pewter at all. For example, many people assume that because the metal has a similar appearance, ZamacŪ, which is a zinc-magnesium alloy used in the die casting process, is pewter. It isn't. Some people also assume that pewter contains lead, which it doesn't. I have actually heard doctors warning people that "pewter toys are unsafe for small children, because they could get lead poisoning from them. Nope. Neither Zamac nor real pewter contain lead.

Pewter generally tends to bend rather than chip.

I have a wonderful pewter tankard that I had to put aside. It has a glass bottom. It was great until it got bent, then the bottom started leaking.
Message: Posted by: Donnie Buckley (Dec 9, 2010 01:02PM)
That's true Bill.
I think pewter cups need a hard case instead of a bag to minimize the possibility of them getting bent. Pewter is just beautiful when it's polished though. It looks a lot like silver, but it's only $25 a lb. - for pre-cut machinable pewter - more costly than copper, but way less than sterling silver.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Dec 9, 2010 01:08PM)
Some of the fellows use a satin lined cardboard box as a case. It does a nice job if you can find a good looking cardboard box.
Message: Posted by: Tom Fenton (Dec 9, 2010 01:22PM)
One of the nicest looking cardboard boxes I have seen are the ones that Allivan's wands come in.
Message: Posted by: cupsandballsmagic (Dec 9, 2010 01:32PM)
Bill is on the money Chessman and so is Donnie, it's quite easy to spin and modern pewter doesn't (or shouldn't) contain lead.

In the UK we sometimes call silver that isn't hallmarked White Metal (mostly for legal reasons) though White metal is the general term for all tin/lead alloys including pewter.

What is or isn't pewter is a bit vague, there are standards for lead-free pewter set by the EU and a different standard in the US. As a rule of thumb alloys that are predominantly tin can usually be called pewter.

Spinning is one thing, I have been working on a project now for a few years which is cast in pewter. That's a whole different ball game because what we are trying to do is take the material and the process being used to its very limits, literally.

For smaller items it's quite easy but for bigger items with complicated shapes then not so. Hard to believe but we have had 60 prototypes so far. Prototype is an interesting word, it makes the phrase "Attempts that didn't work" sound positive!

There are a lot of factors to take into consideration, using different combinations of alloy, temperature, fine-tuning the sprues and exhaust holes etc, one day We'll crack it!

The irony is, I only want 1 for myself I don't intend on selling it when it's done, it's morea labour of love.

Message: Posted by: Dale Houck (Dec 9, 2010 01:36PM)
If you buy antique pewter, it probably has lead in it, even though it's not allowed to be used in pewter today. I have quite a bit of pewter, mostly goblets and cups. Some of it you could bend with your fingers without too much trouble. In those cases, I've wondered if someone ran them through a dishwasher. Some pewter has a pretty low melting point, so it's possible high heat will make them even more malleable than normal. I've never seen pewter chip and can't imagine it being possible. Buma makes some cups in pewter that look nice.
Message: Posted by: Woland (Dec 9, 2010 02:06PM)
Many of the arts & crafts type itmes that are made in China come in very nice hard cardboard boxes with hinged & latched tops, lined with padded cloth. Usually cotton from what I have seen. I am sure you could find one to fit a cup or cups.

Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Dec 9, 2010 02:10PM)
Some of the finest cast pewter I have ever seen comes from a little shop in Regensburg, Germany. I'm sure Tim Dowd knows this place, because he lives in Regensburg. It's called the Kleinschmidt Zinngiesserei. When we visited Regensburg a few years ago, I went into the place and purchased three small cups that would work well for magic.
Message: Posted by: Donnie Buckley (Dec 9, 2010 03:30PM)
Bill, were those cups cast?
Message: Posted by: Andrew Zuber (Dec 9, 2010 03:39PM)
On 2010-12-09 15:06, Woland wrote:
Many of the arts & crafts type itmes that are made in China come in very nice hard cardboard boxes with hinged & latched tops, lined with padded cloth. Usually cotton from what I have seen. I am sure you could find one to fit a cup or cups.

I would second this. When I was in China a number of years ago, nearly everything I bought came in some kind of nice cardboard box. The outside was always wrapped in some form of cloth, with a number of different styles of latches on the front. They seem to have a size for just about anything you purchase. If the area you live in has a "Chinatown" district, you can probably find the same kind of boxes there.
Message: Posted by: gaddy (Dec 9, 2010 04:38PM)
I'd LOVE to cast some pewter cups. Mostly, people here focus on spun cups, but I firmly believe that cast cups in a soft metal are completely viable and, best of all, within the grasp of amateur craftsmen, unlike the spun ones!

Wheels are turning on this one, friends...
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Dec 9, 2010 05:24PM)
On 2010-12-09 16:30, Donnie Buckley wrote:
Bill, were those cups cast?

Yes, they were.
Message: Posted by: ekins (Dec 9, 2010 08:52PM)
There's a large outdoor market in Beijing that had a booth selling the small boxes you're talking about. They had all shapes and sizes. I picked up a couple for something I've been working on. Almost everything you buy at a gift shop over there comes in one. I did a quick search online to see if there was a U.S. source for them but didn't have any luck, but I wasn't exactly sure what you search for. Maybe it's a good reason to take a little trip to China. :)
Message: Posted by: cupsandballsmagic (Dec 10, 2010 01:43AM)
If they are the kind of boxes I think you are talking about ekins, you may want to search for "Brocade boxes" I have a very large satin lined on that a lovely set of Wing Chun knives came it, I was thinking of converting it into a display case for some wands.
Message: Posted by: ekins (Dec 10, 2010 09:56AM)
Thanks for the name of the boxes. I didn't know that's what they are called. The picture below shows a typical one, although they come in various styles. A quick search turned up one place that will make custom boxes.


The boxes I saw in China were very low in price. A box that would fit a cup set would have been less than $1.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Dec 10, 2010 09:59AM)
These would be very good for pewter and also probably for brass. They aren't very good for silver, because the cardboard is not acid-free, so the tarnishing process is accelerated.
Message: Posted by: Chessmann (Dec 10, 2010 06:44PM)
Thanks for the interesting answers, folks.

When I used to go to Scarborough Faire, in Waxahachie, TX, I saw a number of things made or Pewter. Just from looking at, and picking up a few items, I got the impression that they would chip, rather than bend, so I wanted to check.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Dec 11, 2010 03:48AM)
I kinda miss Scarborough Faire. Until the middle of June, when the temperature gets up to 100 degrees PLUS!

Here's a link to some interesting pewter history. http://www.ramshornstudio.com/pewter.htm
Message: Posted by: AndrewJ (Dec 12, 2010 09:30AM)
My wife and I were big fans of miniature / fantasy gaming until recently. Those figurines, bases, and the like are also made of pewter. My knowledge is going to come from one of the manufacturers, where I have actually seen the figurines being cast in person.

Different manufacturers use different recipes for pewter. Some of them are lead-free. Lead free will probably be softer than a lead-based recipe and will bend more before it breaks. Some recipes include lead, which hold a better shape but are likely to be more brittle. Lead-based recipes may be coming into fashion again due to other ingredients of the alloy becoming less available and more expensive.

In short, some recipes are softer than others. I think the answer to the original question is "both," depending on what actually went into the pewter.
Message: Posted by: Donnie Buckley (Mar 4, 2011 09:46AM)
So I finally finished the Paul Fox Mini Cups and Paul Fox Mini Combo Cups in pewter.
I have not had them polished yet, as I think the satin (brushed) finish looks very nice and modern.
Check them out here:
[url=http://www.rnt2.com/index.php?dispatch=products.view&product_id=30437]Paul Fox Mini Cups - Pewter[/url]
[url=http://www.rnt2.com/index.php?dispatch=products.view&product_id=30436]Paul Fox Mini Combo Cups - Pewter[/url]

They are kind of hard to photograph and I only have a couple of pictures up so far, but when I get more Photoshop time, I'll edit more pics.
Message: Posted by: cupsandballsmagic (Mar 4, 2011 09:53AM)
Donnie, congratulations, they look wonderful!
Message: Posted by: fortasse (Mar 4, 2011 10:05AM)
Donnie : couldn't get the link to work but I'll try again later.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Mar 4, 2011 01:21PM)
Those look great!
Message: Posted by: dcjames (Mar 4, 2011 03:19PM)
Really like the look of these cups Donnie.

Any plans for standard sized cups in pewter?