National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Pewter Flagon Pewter Flagon
Rendered by Archie Thompson (artist), 1935/1942
watercolor and graphite on paper
overall: 51.1 x 41 cm (20 1/8 x 16 1/8 in.) Original IAD Object: 11 1/8" high; 6" in diameter
Index of American Design
1943.8.13011
Not on View
From the Tour: Metalwork from the Index of American Design
Object 14 of 17

From the seventeenth century to the nineteenth centuries, pewter was popular among middle class Americans for tableware and serving pieces, because it was more refined than wood and less costly than fine china. Pewter is an alloy of tin with varying combinations of copper, brass, lead, antimony, and bismuth. Because English law restricted the importation of raw tin into the colonies, pewterware was imported as a finished product. Colonial pewterers obtained their material by melting down worn-out pewter and recasting it into new forms. Brass molds, made by the pewterer himself, were most often used. After the piece was cast, it was skimmed on a lathe to make it smooth. The various components of a pewter object, such as the body, the foot, and the handle, were cast separately and soldered together. This pewter flagon was made in the early nineteenth century by the Boardman brothers. The Boardmans were a family with a tradition of pewtering, having inherited from their uncle, Samuel Boardman Danforth, many of the molds from which they cast their wares. This flagon is derived from Danforth styles. It was designed from a modified basin foot -- that is, the bottom of the piece was cast from a basin mold, inverted, and soldered to the body of the vessel. The handle is a double-C scroll, while the lid is a flattened dome. Though not all flagons were made with spouts, the Boardmans included one here. Flagons were originally used in homes to bring beer and cider to the table, but later ones, such as this, were often found in churches as part of the communion service.

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