In some autobiographical
notes, Thomas Danforth Boardman, perhaps the best known of all
American pewterers, said: From the landing of the Pilgrims to the
peace of the revolution, Most all, if not all, used pewter plaits,
and platters, cups, and porringers imported from London and made up
of the old worn out. This was done in Boston, New York, Providence,
Taunton, and other places.
Pewter was, as Mr. Boardman
only partially indicated, one of the most universal elements in
American colonial life. Its use crossed all social and economic
boundaries. It was owned and used by General George Washington, John
Hancock, and other notable figures, as well as by the average farm
or village family in early America.
For over two centuries,
pewter played a daily role in our private, public, religious,
social, and economic life, and it is now an element of our history
which may be studied alone, or will become a part of the study of
almost any facet of the lives of our forebears.
The Pewter Collectors' Club
of America was founded by a group of people vitally interested in
the physical products of the trade of the pewterer, the economic
impact that the trade produced in the early years of our country,
and the varied uses of pewter by the members of our fledgling
society. The organization has now grown to many hundreds of students
and collectors, whose research has produced a great body of
information regarding the craft, the men who served in it, and the
products of their shops.
The organizational meeting
of the Pewter Collectors' Club of America was held on March 21,
1934, at the Old State House, in Boston, Massachusetts. The "call"
for that meeting was issued by William Germain Dooley, then antiques
editor for the Boston Evening Transcript. He is now regarded
as the "founder" of the organization. Mr. Dooley, having noted a
solid and growing interest in pewter, announced in his newspaper
column that he had arranged for a meeting for persons sharing that
enthusiasm, and on the date proposed approximately thirty persons
assembled and formed the PCCA.
In 1984, we celebrated our fiftieth anniversary with nearly
six hundred members, representing nearly all of the 50 United
States, and including members from Canada, Great Britain, France,
Sweden, and other countries.
The objectives of the PCCA
have always been directed towards education, and in the first
printing of the Bulletin, a semi-annual publication of the
organization, those objectives were broadly outlined.
The object of the Club is
to foster study and research in the field of American pewter and to
cooperate in the studies of those interested in English and
Continental pewter. Collections of antique pewter in all forms will
be encouraged. Membership will be extended to all students and
collectors of pewter in this country and abroad and one of the chief
functions of the Club will be to act as a clearing house of
information on pewter and pewterers. Touch marks will be recorded
and every effort will be made to acquire knowledge of hitherto
unknown pewterers and their marks, and to expose spurious touch
marks and all forms of faked pieces and faked marks.
Through the years, hundreds
of articles written by members and published in the Bulletin,
have helped to fulfill those objectives. New information about
pewter and pewterers has been documented, and photographs of marks
and pewter objects constantly enlarge and upgrade our understanding
of the subject. Many museums, historical societies, and libraries
have become members of the PCCA to obtain the Bulletins for study
and inclusion in their collections. Under the guidance of the
members who have served as Editor of the Bulletin over
sixty-five years, it has grown from a page or two of recollections
of meetings and verbal presentation of recent discoveries, to a
first rate publication, with an average of about fifty pages each
issue, presenting in-depth studies with dozens of photographs to
During the early years, the
meetings of the PCCA were held on nearly a monthly basis, and
frequently at the homes of members. This was practical with the
small membership which was concentrated in the greater Boston area.
In more recent years, with membership from coast to coast, the
national organization meets twice each year, and regional groups
have been formed which meet regularly within their own areas. At
present, there are regional groups in the Northeast, the
Mid-Atlantic area, and Mid-West area. At both the national and
regional group meetings, pewter is brought for examination, and some
major topic is undertaken by either a single speaker, or group.
Within this framework of a free exchange of fact and opinion, many
new discoveries are made, or confirmed, adding both quantity and
quality to the whole body of information concerning the trade of the
pewterer and the men who practiced it.
At the time of its
founding, the PCCA was fortunate to have had the groundwork laid to
formulate its direction and objectives by early researchers and
Kerfoot had written American Pewter in l924,and Charies A.
Caider had published Rhode Island Pewterers and Their Work,
and also Some Additional Notes on Rhode Island Pewterers.
Louis G. Myers published Some Notes on American Pewterers in
1926. Those early writers inspired Ledlie 1. Laughlin to create the
two-volume Pewter in America, which was published by that
PCCA member in 1940. That book, and a third volume published in
1971, is still the most comprehensive overall publication dealing
with the subject of American pewter.
Interest in every field of
collecting will increase as more information and documentation
become available. The books mentioned above provided the information
that fed the enlargement of interest in pewter, and also membership
in the PCCA.
Carl Jacobs, who was an
important factor in the field of pewter collecting, wrote Guide
to American Pewter, published in 1957, and the interest
continued to grow. Prompted perhaps by the interest of their fellow
collectors, many PCCA members have also contributed to the pool of
published data. Henry J. Kauffman published The American Pewterer
- His Techniques and His Products in 1970, and Celia Jacobs
published The Pocket Book of American Pewter in the same
year. Another member, Katherine Ebert, wrote Collecting American
Pewter in 1973, and in the same year, Charles F. Montgomery
wrote A History of American Pewter. Member John Carl Thomas
wrote Connecticut Pewter and Pewterers in 1976.
In addition to the books
published by members of the PCCA, there are the hundreds of articles
in the Bulletin and many other periodical publications, and
all of the efforts have been supported by the Club, and have, in
turn, helped the Club to grow.
A little more than a year
after its organizational meeting, the PCCA undertook the
presentation of an exhibition of pewter at the Boston Public
Library, which was advertised as, "The first exhibition of pewter,
national in scope, to be held in this country". The 28 page catalog
which was issued at the time shows that large amounts of pewter from
America and other countries were on view.
In a publication relating
to the fortieth anniversary of the PCCA, William 0. Blaney, then
Editor of the Bulletin, nothing had come of it. He observed
then that, certainly, such an affair, drawing from the collections
of today's Club members as well as various institutions would be of
tremendous interest to pewter collectors as well as the public, and
a stimulant for others to participate in the enjoyment of
collecting, studying and researching pewter and its many
Another decade passed, and
the PCCA celebrated its "golden anniversary" with just such an
exhibition, mounted at, and in cooperation with, the Museum of Our
National Heritage, in Lexington, Massachusetts. The exhibition dates
were May 13 to October 28, 1984. Approximately 36,000 people
saw the exhibit during the five and one half months it was on
catalog, Pewter in
American Life illustrates a great percentage of the pewter which
made up that exhibition.
It is the sincere wish of the collective membership of the
PCCA, and in absolute accord with the objects stated over sixty-six
years ago, that the exhibit and catalog will act as a... stimulant
for others to participate in the enjoyment of collecting pewter.
Adapted from Pewter in
American Life, Pewter Collectors' Club of America,
To further the objectives of the PCCA,
"The object of the Club is to foster study and research in the field
of American pewter and to cooperate in the studies of those
interested in English and Continental pewter", for the benefit
of it's members as well as non-members and institutions such as
libraries and museums the PCCA recently published Collecting Antique Pewter, What to Look For
and What to Avoid, sent to current members and
available to the public early in