Rob Gorrell - Folk Artist

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pewter pitcher

Repairing an antique pewter pitcher.

Rob GorrellComment

A friend recenty asked me to see if I could repair an antique pewter pitcher for him. The pitcher had several dents along the bottom ring, a banged up spout, a broken hinge and some solder damage. I have almost no experience working with pewter but have been wanting to learn more about casting and repairing pewter. He thought it would be a good learning piece for me. Which hopefully means he won’t get mad if I mangle the pitcher in the process of learning.

I do have a book in our library that has been helpful so far: Pewter Working Instructions and Projects, by Burl N. Osburn and Gordon O. Wilber.

Antique pewter is very soft and easy to work over a form. The first part of the pitcher I fiddled with was the lip on the base. As you can see in the first image there were a few large flat spots, probably from the pitcher being dropped. I used one of my wooden mandrals and a combination of mallets to ease the rim back into shape. The third image is the repaired base.

The next repair attempt was to the edges of the spout. As you can see in the left hand image, the edges of the spout have been bent in all along the spout. This part was a bit scary to work on. I was worried that any attempt to bend the edges back would cause the pewter to break off. However, I found that by using a few different sets of jeweler’s pliers the lip could be coaxed back into shape reasonably well. Unfortunately, I did have to do a little gentle filing to smooth the edge. The second image shows the repaired lip as it appears now.

The next step will be to repair the hinge where it attaches to the lid. The owner has suggested a “make-do-repair”, such as is sometimes seen on surviving period pieces. Before I go any farther I need to study up a bit. This is what the damaged parts look like now.

If anyone has advise on how to proceed with this section I would be very interested in hearing your thoughts.

I will post again when this project is a little farther along. Thanks for reading.