Pewter is an alloy of lead and tin, containing sometimes copper, zinc, or antimony. There are three distinct kinds of English-made pewter, viz. (1) Plate pewter, used for dishes and plates, an alloy usually made without lead, and containing principally 90 parts tin, 7 antimony, 2 bismuth, and 2 copper; (2) Trifle pewter, employed for casting drinking vessels, etc, an alloy of 82 parts tin with 18 lead, and containing variable quantities of antimony; and (3) Ley pewter, containing 4 parts tin and 1 lead, employed for the larger wine measures. Owing to the poisonous nature of lead, which is apt to be dissolved by the acetic acid always present in beer, the French Government has prohibited the use of an alloy containing more than 18 per cent. of lead; if the lead be not in excess of this quantity, the tin seems to have the effect of neutralizing its poisonous properties. When made in the above proportions, pewter has a specific gravity of 7*8, so that any specimens of a higher specific gravity than this may be known to contain too high a percentage of the heavier metal. Pewter is a soft metal resembling tin, but duller and darker in colour.

Plates and dishes are hammered out of the variety called plate pewter, but drinking vessels, etc, are always cast into moulds from the common variety.