Similar regulations to those to which the Paris pewterers had to conform were in force in the provincial towns of France, amongst which Lyons, Poitiers, Limoges, Amiens, Tours, Rouen, Rheims, Dijon, Chartres, Nimes, Angers, and Toulouse were specially distinguished for the beauty of the ware produced in them. In Germany, too, the laws concerning pewter-making were equally stringent, though they differed in certain minor respects from the French ordinances. The chief centres of production were Augsburg and Nuremberg; and one of the earliest references to German pewter occurs in an enactment issued in the former town in 1324, ordering visits of inspection to be made to the workshops by masters, who had taken an oath to test truly the ware manufactured in them. It was in Nuremberg, so long the headquarters of the great German craftsmen, that the most beautiful pewter was produced, and, thanks to the clearness with which it was marked, one need experience very little difficulty in identifying it.
In an ordinance of the Nuremberg pewterers, dated 1576, the proportions of the alloy to be used were fixed at ten pounds of tin to one of lead, and everything made in it was to be marked with the city eagle, as well as with what was known as the private eagle and the distinctive supplementary mark of the maker. It was further enacted than an eagle and a crown were to be stamped on all articles made of beaten tin, and that anything made in the English style must be distinguished by an eagle, a crown, and a rose. Other German marks were a lily, a scroll, and a cross with the Virgin and St. John at the foot; the last, however, was used only for ecclesiastical plate.
Much of the pewter made in Holland and Belgium was of fine quality and beautiful design, especially that produced in early times at Ath, where, in 1328, the Pewterers' Guild took precedence in processions of all the other civic corporations; and later at Bruges, Ghent, Mons, Namur, Liege, Brussels, Antwerp, Amsterdam, Breda, and Mons, the craftsmen in each town having their own guild and distinctive system of marks.
In the Ghent museum is preserved a most interesting touch-plate, giving a large number of marks that were in use in that city in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, including a rose and crown, with the initials of the maker below the latter, and a hammer with a crown above it, and a shield on either side of the handle, one enclosing a lion and the other a lamb. Other well-known Ghent marks are those of the De Keghels family, who have been pew-terers for many generations, and have combined their initials at different times with various symbols, such as a crowned heart pierced by two arrows, a Maltese cross within a circlet, a rose, and a sheep.
The best pewter produced in Mons was marked with the word fin, and amongst marks in use were a castle and the town arms, and a hammer surmounted by a crown; whilst the chief emblem of Liege ware was an angel; and of Brussels, a crowned rose.
In Switzerland, Norway, and Sweden pewter was also largely used, and to the first-named country belongs the distinction of having produced one of the greatest of all designers of the beautiful ware, Gaspar Enderlein, who, though he worked chiefly at Nuremberg, was born at Basel, in the latter part of the sixteenth century.
Two German lamps and a Flemish benitier, or holy water stoup, in old pewter. The lamps are time measures, made on the principle of the classic water-clocks, oil being used instead of water. Both Germany and Flanders were famous for their pewter work
In Spain, Barcelona, and in Italy, Bologna were the chief centres for the manufacture of pewter; but in neither country was the ware produced equal to that of France, Germany, Belgium, or Holland. In Italy the trade was almost entirely in the hands of hawkers, known as Stagnarini, whose goods consisted mostly of cheap domestic utensils.
The museums of France, Holland, and Belgium are rich in specimens of native pewter, the makers of which can, in many cases, be identified, and the provincial towns are still excellent hunting grounds for the collector, so universal was the use of the ware from the thirteenth to the eighteenth centuries, when, as in England, it was superseded by cheaper substitutes. Even the wealthiest households owned large collections of pewter that figure in Court inventories and in those of the property of great nobles and dignitaries of the Church; and gradually the names of individual makers came into prominence, it being recorded, for instance, that in 1380 a certain Michelet le Breton provided the French King,-charles VI., with six dozen dishes and twelve dozen porringers; and that, in 1422, Jehan Goupil, of Tours, supplied sixty-four dishes and one hundred and fifty-eight porringers to Charles VII.
About the beginning of the sixteenth century it began to be the custom to decorate pewter ware, thus greatly increasing the cost of production and at the same time rousing the jealousy of the gold and silversmiths. That led to the passing of laws forbidding pewterers to work in any other material than the legal alloy allotted to them. For all that, the practice continued, the new style culminating in France in the work of Francois Briot, by some critics considered the best of all Continental pewterers, who produced quantities of highly ornamental ware, two very fine specimens of which, the so-called Temperantia Salver and Ewer, are in the Victoria and Albert Museum, where they may be compared with an equally beautiful salver bearing the signature of the Swiss, Enderlein, mentioned above.
After the deaths of Briot and Enderlein, the decline in the making of pewter set in all over Europe, even the efforts of Louis XIV., who instituted the office of a Royal Pew-terer, failing to arrest it. Ware long highly prized was either melted down for the material to be sold generally at a very considerable loss, or relegated to the kitchen, the derivation of the English word scullery, from ecuelles, the French for porringers, being a minor but pathetically significant indication of the change which took place in the estimate in which pewter came to be held until a reaction in its favour set in' again in modern times.
As an inevitable result of this sudden loss of popularity, countless beautiful specimens of old foreign pewter were destroyed, but there still remain enough to prove that its production was no mere mechanical industry, but a true art-craft, giving full scope for individual initiative and skill. The relics of ecclesiastical plate, the making of which in pewter was rendered legal in several Continental countries as early as the second half of the thirteenth century, include not only chalices and patens, monstrances and pyxes, flagons, and ewers, but a very great number of other utensils, some of very quaint and beautiful design, such as amphorae and cruets for sacramental wine, vessels for keeping incense, bottles and boxes for preserving consecrated oil, alms dishes, portable benitiers, or holy water stoups, heart-cases, in which the hearts of deceased persons of note were separately buried, pectoral crosses, worn by Church dignitaries, to which must be added sepulchral discs, bearing different devices, a large number of which are preserved at Mount St. Michel; and pilgrims' tokens, kept as mementoes of visits to shrines, etc.
Old Treasures now Obtainable
To enumerate all the objects made of pewter for secular and domestic use between the twelfth and eighteenth centuries would require a separate article; but it may be stated that the more important, of which examples can still be obtained, are complete dinner services, ewers, and basins, cimaises, or elaborately wrought cups, in which wine was offered to Royal visitors to towns by the civic authorities; shooting prizes, awarded alike to victors and vanquished; hanaps, or two-handled guild cups; seder dishes, used by Jews in the Passover celebrations; lavabos, or wall fountains; candlesticks, tankards, beer and other measures, bowls, porringers eared and plain; lamp time measures, on the principle of the Egyptian clepsydra, oil instead of water having been used; tea-pots, cream-jugs, and spoons of a great diversity of form, some few of the last that were used in Royal households, and fitted with handles surmounted by a crown.
German coffee-pot, Flemish lavabo, and Swiss biberon, or drinking vessel, in antique pewter. The lavabo was a species of drinking fountain that could be affixed to a wall. Switzerland produced one of the most famous of the ancient pewterers, Caspar Enderlein, and his work is both rare and beautiful