Edward Danforth Pewter Plates, ca. 1795
Appraised Value: $3,000
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (2:33)
Decorative Arts, Folk Art, Silver
Owner, Appraiser and Chief Auctioneer
GUEST: My mother actually purchased them at a flea market or a tag sale back probably close to 40 years ago up in Connecticut, and she paid the grand total of six dollars per plate for them. She was not really much of a collector of pewter, but the idea of breaking a set of pewter-- a set of anything, really-- bothered her so much as a collector herself, so...
APPRAISER: Now, what did she primarily collect?
GUEST: Primarily flow blue plates and platters and whatnot.
APPRAISER: Well, you know, china collectors love to have complete sets, so that's probably why she didn't want the set broken up.
APPRAISER: Well, they are a wonderful set of American pewter plates. They were made by Edward Danforth in Hartford, Connecticut, in the late 1700s.
APPRAISER: Just before 1800. And you rarely find a set. They were always sold in sets originally, but they usually got broken up. One of the wonderful things about this set is they're in perfect condition.
GUEST: Oh, great!
APPRAISER: They were well taken care of. If you don't take care of pewter, it will disintegrate.
APPRAISER: And it will start to pit. And when that happens, it really affects the value.
GUEST: Oh, wow.
APPRAISER: So you have a great set of six plates here. The marks are exceptional. The "Edward Danforth" with the lion, and then there are these marks down here, which are sort of similar to English touchmarks on silver. And the American pewterers wanted to compete with the English and make people think that although they were made in this country, they were still just as good as the ones made in England.
GUEST: I see.
APPRAISER: Pewter from this period has a lot of lead in it. The lighter pewter was made with more tin, and it's called Britannia. Edward Danforth was one of a family of pewterers in Connecticut. In fact, some of them moved over to Massachusetts eventually, but he was one of the earliest. There were over ten members of the family.
GUEST: That many?
APPRAISER: Yes. I don't know whether you notice, but there's a little bit of discoloration here.
APPRAISER: It's pretty hard to tell, but this may be the starting of a little bit of corrosion. The pewter that's in the best condition are pieces that were in kitchens over a stove and all of the grease coming from the stove made a wonderful film on the pewter. You just wipe off that grease and you get the most beautiful color. Of course I don't know whether you realize, but pewter was considered the poor man's silver.
GUEST: Yes, I had heard that.
APPRAISER: And so they had it polished. You're very fortunate that she kept the set together, because they have a retail value of around $3,000.
GUEST: Is that right?
GUEST: Oh, my God.
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