Pewter and Its Different Uses through the Years

Pewter is a metal alloy that has been in use for centuries. It has properties that make it great for crafting various objects ranging from common household items to intricately detailed ornaments. But what is pewter made of exactly?

pewter

Components of Pewter

Pewter is a metal alloy, which means it’s a mixture of more than one kind of metal. In the case of pewter, it is mainly composed of around 90% tin. The other percent is made up of another type of metal such as lead, antimony or copper. Tin has the advantage of being very malleable, but has an extremely low melting point. By mixing it with another metal that melts at a higher temperature, you can increase its melting point. The result is pewter, a metal alloy that has all the strengths of its two separate components.

Uses of Pewter

Because its main component is tin, it’s easy to assume that pewter is cheap. You might associate it with inexpensive and mundane things like tin cans and tin foil. But pewter is actually a useful metal alloy that has been used in various ways throughout history. Going as far back as the Bronze Age, pewter has been used to craft useful objects. And even today, it can be found in all kinds of items. Here are some examples of pewter’s uses.

For religious purposes – In the 11th century in Europe, pewter was very expensive. The only ones who could afford it were a handful of wealthy people and priests. It was used for making church vessels like chalice cups, candlesticks and paten – a saucer for holding the host bread. Because of its high cost and use in special ceremonies, pewter items were considered status symbols.

tablewares

For tableware and drink ware – By the 18th century, the price of this metal alloy fell and it was widely used by normal middle class folk as well. Pewter was used to make eating and drinking utensils like spoons, forks, plates, cups and cutlery. It was used to make liquid containers such as mugs, teapots, saucepans and bowls. Pewter was a popular choice for making tankards and was a common sight in taverns. The wealthy and the masses alike enjoyed their meals with pewter tableware. Mass production through the industrial revolution helped in making it more accessible to commoners.

For decorations – Because pewter contained poisonous lead and was replaced by other alternatives like porcelain, its use at the dinner table declined by the end of the 18th century. However, pewter still has use in non-dinnerware objects like vases, buttons and inkwells. It can be used for crafting beautiful decorations and ornaments. To this day, it’s one of the main components for crafting statuettes and figurines. The malleability of pewter lends itself well to the shaping of elaborate designs.

jewelries

For jewellery – Pewter isn’t just used to adorn rooms. It can be also be used to dress yourself up in stylish accessories. Today, it’s used for making jewellery and trinkets. Gorgeous baubles like pendants, charm bracelets and earrings can be crafted from pewter. Jewellery made from this alloy has an elegant sheen that is timelessly fashionable, making it an affordable alternative to more expensive metal accessories. Pewter can also be used for novelty items like replica coins and badges.

Although the use of pewter isn’t as widespread as it used to be, it still has its place in modern times. The way it’s being used today has changed. But it’s a welcome change that introduces new and unique ways of creating. Indeed, this metal alloy has proved itself to be both useful and versatile.

With new ways and ingredients to make pewter, having decorations and utensils made from this alloy isn’t so far-fetched anymore. You might even have pewter items of your own. What other kind of objects do you think can be made with this metal?

Melamine Tableware for Kids: Is durability worth the health risks?

tableware

 

Most kids tend to break stuff because they still struggle with their hand-eye coordination. Most practical moms, who also want to put their child’s safety first, use melamine tableware to avoid mishaps while feeding them.

Melamine tableware is available in different attractive colors and patterns with a promise of durability, versatility, and your child’s entertainment as he or she learns to eat. Their packages are usually labeled with features like ‘heat resistant’, ‘dishwasher safe’, and ‘shatterproof’, making it seem that they are sensible and convenient to buy. However, what most consumers don’t know is that by buying these products, they fall into a trap full of health risks which the chemical component brings not only to your table, but also into your child’s body.

You may think you’re just being practical, at the same time protecting your child from possible cuts that broken glass or ceramic may cause. However, those incidents are easier to prevent, compared to the hard-to-cure illnesses that melamine can spark.

This article talks about melamine-made tableware and the possible dangers and health risks it poses to people who use it, especially to children.

 

What is Melamine?

Melamine is a chemical compound with many industrial uses. It is also referred to as melamine resin or melamine formaldehyde. In the US, it’s used in manufacturing kitchen items, plastic products, paperboards, construction materials, and industrial coatings, among others. In other countries, it is also used as a fertilizer.

The component can also be used in the manufacturing of packaging for food products, but is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be directly added to human food or animal feeds sold in the US.

People were first aware of the dangers of melamine in 2007 when it was reported that melamine has been widely used in animal feeds produced in China. In the following year , traces of the same chemical component were also found in several baby formula brands. There were reports on canines and felines dying of kidney failure and babies developing kidney stones.

 

Melamine Tableware: Plated Danger

As people grew mindful of the dangers of melamine and its presence in the plastic tableware sets they use daily, many asked about the possibility of the compound leeching into the food served on melamine-made plates.

According to FDA’s assessment, the risk posed against people using melamine tableware is extremely low and within acceptable degrees. But there are precautionary reminders in using such dishes and it seems that there are more risks when used by children and infants. In this light, it would be wise NOT to use melamine plates when feeding children; but it would be wiser for you and your whole family, no matter what age, to NOT use them at all.

In 2013, a study was conducted by the Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan to find out if “…melamine tableware releases toxic quantities of kidney stone-forming melamine when exposed to high temperatures – such as when they’re holding hot food.”

The study involved monitoring urine samples of two groups of adults. One group ate hot noodle soup from melamine bowls while the other group ate their hot noodle soup from ceramic bowls. Results showed that the group who ate from the melamine bowls excreted 8.35 micrograms of melamine, while the other group excreted only 1.35 micrograms.

Chia-Fang Wu, lead researcher at the university, stated that, “Melamine tableware may release large amounts of melamine when used to serve high-temperature foods.” And further added, “Although the clinical significance of what levels of urinary melamine concentration has not yet been established, the consequences of long-term melamine exposure still should be of concern.”

Definitely, it is our concern to keep our family safe. Even if plastic tableware with melamine is affordable, practical, and cute, it is not worth using; especially if it only poses great risks to your children’s health.

 

Safe Choices and Alternatives

Aside from being convenient and durable, everyone must realize that there are no other benefits to be gained from using melamine tableware. There are a lot of safer alternatives including tableware made of stainless steel, bamboo, glass, ceramic, or BPA-free plastics. Either of which is the better and safer choice if you want to assure your family’s health in your own home kitchen.

It is indeed a smart move to get rid of all your melamine-made dishes. But if you’re thinking, “It’s okay. I’m careful with my melamine tableware anyway. I don’t use it in the microwave or when serving hot food.” Then the choice is entirely up to you. But be reminded that acidic food increases risks especially when heated. With this in mind, it would also be good to learn more about Synergistic Toxicity.

If you have any specific queries about melamine, you can also check and post your questions at the official website of U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The History of the Saratoga Chips Server

Saratoga

 

These days, fries, chips, and other delectable snacks are all eaten with the hands. However, did you know that these foods were actually served with fancy silverware in the old days? Yes, you read that right. Back in 1873, rich people from the Victorian era did not want their potato chips to be touched by human hands because they feared of their food being contaminated with germs.

So in order to serve potato chips, they used a piece of sterling silver flatware called the Saratoga Chip Server. Although this utensil is not commonly used in this modern time and age, it still holds a lot of value, especially among flatware collectors. Its well-made construction, complex design, and rich history make this chip server a must-have item in one’s household.

Let’s travel back in time and discover the rich history of Saratoga chip servers.

A Short History of the Potato Chip

In order to discover the origins of the Saratoga chip server, it is necessary to know the humble beginnings of the potato chip.

The very first potato chip recipe was created accidentally during the late 19th century. It happened inside a small restaurant called “Moon’s Lake House” which was located in Saratoga Springs, New York. George Crum, one of the cooks in that joint was trying to appease a customer who was unhappy with his French fries.

The customer kept on sending his fried potatoes back to the kitchen because he thought they were too thick and soggy. Out of frustration, Crum sliced the potatoes into wafer-thin strips then fried them up to a crisp and sprinkled them with a lot of salt.

The result was an extremely crunchy dish that is impossible to eat. It was deemed impossible because back in the days, gentlemen and ladies from the upper class would never dare to pick their food up using their bare hands. Since the potato chip has a crisp and thin texture, it would instantly shatter when pierced with a fork.

But to Crum’s and the restaurant owner’s surprise, the customer loved the new dish. Since then, it has been part of the restaurant’s menu. It was then known as “Saratoga Chips”.

Creation of the Chip Server

As mentioned earlier, the upper class didn’t want to touch their food with their own hands. So in order to serve them brittle Saratoga chips, companies like Tiffany, Gorham, Reed & Barton, and others developed a specific type of silverware called the Saratoga Chip Server.

Aside from keeping germs away from potato chips, this handy utensil was also used to drain excess oil from food using holes found on its surface.

Before, potato chips were considered as appetizers in fancy restaurants and not as snacks. That is why people prefer to serve them with this utensil.

Decline in Production

The Saratoga chip server was not the only specialty silverware that was invented during the Gilded Age. The lavish tables of the nouveau riche were filled with a variety of silverware such as fried chicken tongs, cucumber servers, sardine spades, berry spoons, and a whole lot more. There was such an excess in silverware production that in 1925, Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover created a decree which stated that an American Silver Service can only have up to 55 types of silver pieces.  Once the decree was enacted, most companies halted the production of different types of silverware, including the Saratoga chip server.

The Wrap Up

The Saratoga chip server may not be commonly used today, but it is still a great collectible piece. And if you don’t want your homemade chips to be greasy, you can also buy this utensil to drain excess oil from your beloved snack. Do you have this classic piece of flatware at home? If so, feel free to visit the comments section and share your happy dining experiences when using the Saratoga Chips Server!

For more silverware or flatware, visit www.TheEscapePlace.com

The Apostle Spoon

The Apostle Spoon is a type of spoon that has a cast figure at the end of the handle, depicting the image of one of the Twelve Apostles in complete detail. They are among the oldest forms of spoons that can still be found today. They are typically made with silver or are, at the very least, silver-plated. In the recent years, however, other metals such as pewter have been used to forge this Christian-inspired piece of cutlery. Prior to the time of the Protestant Reformation, apostle spoons were very popular due to the belief in the services of patron saints.

Apostle Spoons: A Brief History

In the early fifteenth century in Europe, spoons were often produced in sets of thirteen. The 12 spoons signified the apostles while the thirteenth signified Jesus and was typically referred to the “Master” spoon. Dating from 1536-7, the British Museum in London has a set of Apostle Spoons with the figure of the Virgin Mary on the thirteenth spoon.

By the sixteenth century, apostle spoons had become popular as baptismal or christening presents for godchildren, where its first appearance as such was a bequest in the will of an Amy Brent who bequeathed “XIII sylver spons of J’hu and the XII Apostells”. During these times, wealthy grandparents or godparents would purchase an apostle spoon which would represent the child’s “apostle” and offer it as a christening present. Only the recipient should be able to use the spoon and should keep it for life. If you’ve ever encountered the phrase “born with a silver spoon”; this saying actually stems from this tradition. Around the 1660’s, however, this practice began to die out.

Although, apostle spoons have been mass reproduced over the years; complete sets of twelve from the same maker are incredibly rare and valuable, and complete sets of thirteen are even rarer and more valuable. Today, only two complete sets of 13 are known to exist from the 1500’s; one of which is a “reassembled set”. This means that the original set had be broken up over the generations, and was reassembled in the earlier part of this century through some serious silver sleuthing.

Recognizing the Apostle Spoons

The Apostle spoons are recognizable with the specific attributes carved in the handles:

The Master (Jesus) – typically with a cross and orb
Peter – typically a sword, key, or fish
Andrew – typically a cross
James the Greater – typically a pilgrim’s staff
John – typically the cup of sorrow
Philip – typically a staff
Bartholomew – typically a knife
Thomas – typically a spar
Matthew – typically an axe or halbert
James the Lesser – typically a fuller’s bat
Jude – typically a carpenter’[s set square
Simon Zealotes – typically a long saw
Judas Iscariot – typically a bag of money

Now that you know a bit of the brief history of the Apostle Spoon; do you think that it makes a good christening gift for a child, or even a birthday present for anyone? Which Apostle Spoon would you give the important people in your life? Sound off in the comments! We’d love to hear from you!

Size Matters: Continental VS American Flatware Sizes

Most of us love having our meals out, but have you ever noticed how different restaurants have different types of flatware? Some, you can clearly see came in a set together with the flatware. Meanwhile, others seem to be individual pieces that complement the overall design and theme of the place. Some are bigger and heavier than others. Does this mean that the bigger and heavier ones are more expensive? Not necessarily. Sometimes it just means that they’re different types of flatware.

So there are 3 types of flatware, all with different sizes, balances, and uses: Continental Flatware, Place-size flatware, and Luncheon-size Flatware.

Photo courtesy: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51bJGqSIpAL._SY355_.jpg
Photo courtesy: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51bJGqSIpAL._SY355_.jpg

Luncheon

This type of flatware is the shortest in length, and is the hardest one to find today. Its length was made to balance the dimensions of the luncheon plate; however, it’s not commonly used today. You’d most likely find it in older flatware sets, but rarely in restaurants or homes.

 

Continental

Photo courtesy: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/4124HWKEM6L._SY355_.jpg
Photo courtesy: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/4124HWKEM6L._SY355_.jpg

Also known as European Size, this is the type of flatware that is the longest in terms of length.  The dinner knife, dinner fork, and soup spoon of this type is longer by approximately half an inch, compared to the place flatware; and approximately an inch compared to the luncheon flatware. Apart from their length, these flatware pieces are also slightly thicker and heavier compared to both their luncheon and place counterparts.  In continental or European style, you would typically find the monograms (or stamps) at the back of the handles, because their forks are held with the tines downward.

 

Place

Also known as American Size, this type of flatware is what you would traditionally see in American households. However, even though the continental size of flatware is becoming increasingly popular in the states, the place size is still the cutlery of choice. They’re lighter and easier to manipulate compared to their continental counterpart.  In the American style of flatware, the monograms are placed at the front of  the handle because typical American cuisine is done with the fork tines held upward to eat.

 

Continental VS Place sizes

Here are some of the common pieces with their size differences between Continental and Place.

Flatware Piece

Continental Size

Place Size

Knife 10 1/2″ 9″
Fork 8 1/2″ 7 1/2″
Salad Fork 6 1/2″ 6 1/2″
Soup Spoon 7 5/8″ 7″
Teaspoon 6 1/4″ 6 1/4″

As to which style of flatware is better is all a matter of preference and what you grew up with. Some people like the heavy feel of the continental style, because (to them) it screams quality. Others, however, prefer the lighter and more relaxed size and feel of the American or place style due to their convenience.

What style flatware do you have at home? Do they match your dinnerware at home? Planning on purchasing new ones anytime soon? What type? Sound off in the comments! We’d love to hear from you.

Check out our Ebay Store, we have a lot of dinnerware, flatware, silverware, stainless flatware offered. Visit www.TheEscapePlace.com

Cleaning Silverware: Dishwasher versus Hand-wash

Our silverwares are used for the most common tasks like a simple dinner with the family, or even to a rarer occasion like accentuating the theme of a formal dinner party. But once all the fun, laughter, and eating is done; how do you plan on cleaning your dishes and silverwares? Do you plan on just stacking and cramming them all in a dishwasher for that quick and convenient way of cleaning? Maybe you’d like to take the more traditional route of washing by hand to have that quiet moment alone for your own thoughts. Before we go and decide which is better let’s first find out what each system of cleaning holds for us and the items they clean.

cleaning-silverware

Washing By Hand

Most of us know and understand how fragile the design of silverwares can be and, with that in mind, one understands that they shouldn’t be mixed with other things to avoid ruining them. This caution, however, can be skipped when washing by hand because you have control and have the ability to discern which can harm which. This discerning action allows you wash your dishes along with your silverware at the same time without the worry of ruining the smooth glossy finish of your silver spoons, forks, and knives. What does this mean for you? Well this means efficiency. By using the water you used to clean your silverware for your other dishes, you lessen the act of wasting water (Of course when doing this you shouldn’t leave the tap on). According to Umbra of grist.org, you can even use the method of David Galloway of lifehacker.com wherein he gathers the water he used for cleaning and uses it for other things like watering the plants or as scrub water.

 

Washing the Dishes through a Dishwasher

Okay, given the point above some may argue that washing by hand is simply too time consuming. Aside from lessening time consumption, dishwasher enthusiasts can also argue using the results of the study done by Bonn University. According to the website dishwashingexpert.com modern dishwashers are much more efficient than washing by hand. Its efficiency includes a lot more than just precious time. The research shows that modern washers use 13 to 27 liters of water which is roughly 1/6 of that use when washing hands. If your concern is your electric bill worry no more because some of these washers are Energy Star certified. This means that they are much more efficient in using electricity than conventional dishwashers.

 

Contested Conclusion 

With the discussion on the dishwasher done, it would seem that washing your silverware through the use of a dishwasher is the most ideal means of cleaning. However, according to sites like treehugger.com, grist.org, and lifehacker.com the result found by Bonn University (BU) can be contested. First, one cannot simply apply the result found by BU to all dishwashers. There is a specific type of dishwasher that the results apply to, and this means that people can’t just boast and question hand-wash enthusiasts with a condescending tone. Second, because of the fragile nature of silverware, you can’t just put them together with other utensils and so you have to wash these things separately if you’re planning to maintain the pristine look of your silverware. Separating the act of washing consumes more water and soap which doesn’t translate well economically. Finally, the study conducted, according to Umbra of grist.org, didn’t turn the faucet off when cleaning the dishes and so precious water was wasted. They also didn’t acknowledge the alternative uses of the water used for cleaning.

With these, if you would like to call them revelations, show is that the most logical reason why people would opt to use dishwashers as cleaners over hand washing is that dishwashers are simply less time consuming when you are just washing your silverware. It also doesn’t add physical strain by reducing your task to simply loading, unloading, and drying. If you’d prefer some alone time with your thoughts, prefer a sponge on your hand, and you don’t have figuratively deep pockets; then hand washing wouldn’t be a problem to you and even the environment.

 

Here are some great Oneida Brahms Spoons

Pierced_Serving_Spoon_Oneida_Brahms

Shell_Casserole_Spoon_Oneida

For more stainless silverware flatware, visit www.TheEscapePlace.com

Did I miss anything? What’s your take on the dishwashing versus hand-washing debate? Tell us what you think! We’ love to hear from you!

Stainless Flatware: The Importance of 18/10 VS 18/0

When you’re in the market for stainless steel flatware, you might come across terms such as “18/10 Stainless Steel”, “18/0 Stainless Steel” or in some cases, “18/8 Stainless Steel”.  But what do they all really mean? Is it the quality of the steel? The way it was made? Or maybe, some fancy gimmick to justify one set being more expensive than the other, even though it doesn’t look any better than the cheaper one? Let’s find out.

Flatware Stainless Steel

Stainless steel used on flatware will have different compositions depending on their applications.  But the main ingredients are Chromium and Nickel which add to its corrosion resistance.  Chromium is a hard substance, and is essentially used as a hardener.  Nickel is a silvery metal that doesn’t easily corrode and thus is used to enhance corrosion resistance.  Technically, a higher content of each will be more resilient to pitting and rusting, making them easy to maintain.  Too much Chromium content, however, will result in brittleness which will be unpractical for everyday use.

The Numbers and What They Are

18/10 or 18/0 is simply a numerical representation of how much chromium and nickel the stainless steel has in a particular set.

  • 18/10 – 18% Chromium and 10% Nickel
  • 18/0 – 18% Chromium and 0% Nickel

In general, since most flatware will have the same 18% Chromium; the higher the Nickel content, the more resistant it is to corrosion.  However, it is important to note that Nickel is quite expensive which means that sets with high nickel content will cost more as well.

Understanding what they mean

Aside from corrosion resistance, 18/10 and 18/0 stainless steel can differ in appearance and of course, as mentioned earlier, price.  18/10 stainless steel will have more luster than its little brother, the 18/0.  It will also be more durable and will likely be more capable to withstand daily use.  On the other hand, because it has more Nickel content (which is expensive), these sets will generally cost more than those made with 18/0 stainless steel.  18/10 stainless steel flatware will be heavier, more balanced, and have a better “feel” than their 18/0 counterparts.

Although 18/10 is the hands down winner, 18/0 stainless steel isn’t as bad as one might think.  They’re relatively strong and inexpensive.  They may not be as corrosion resistant or as durable as their big brother, the 18/10; but, with a little extra care and common sense, they will last a long time serving their purpose.

There you have it.  These are basically what you need to know about 18/10 and 18/0 stainless steel flatware.  The next time you check out flatware sets, you should know what to look for.  If you really want quality craftsmanship that is durable, that has a good feel and overall appearance, but without minding the extra expense; go for 18/10 Stainless Steel.  However, if your definition of what practical is includes price, don’t be afraid to look at 18/0 stainless steel sets.  Just remember to trust your instincts.  Read the label.  Ask somebody to open them up and try to have a feel of it in your hand.  You will come across items that claim they are what they are not.  Keep in mind that if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

Check out our Oneida Stainless Steel Flatware.

Choosing the Right Flatware and Dinnerware for Your Kids

No words can express the joy of having children.  As they grow older, their needs change and it is important to address them accordingly.  Parents will always want what’s best for their kids from the clothes they wear, toys they play with, food they eat, and of course, on what they eat on.  Young children go through the aping stage wherein they try to imitate what other people are doing.  If they see you eating on a plate using a spoon and a fork, they would want to do the same.  However, the potential danger of letting them use regular “adult” utensils is pretty obvious and we’ve all heard horror stories about them.  Choosing their first flatware and dinnerware is important for them to practice eating properly on their own while having a bigger safety margin than using the regular ones.

What they’re made of

Children’s Flatware and Dinnerware are usually made out of plastic, though there are some that are made of sterling silver or bamboo.  Plastic is arguably the best choice for the simple reason that it does not corrode.  Sterling silver might be a bit too heavy for a child.  The phrase “served on a silver platter” comes to mind but, in reality, I don’t think they’d appreciate that line at such a young age.  Besides, considering how much silverware costs these days, it’s not very practical.  Although bamboo is an organic alternative, since it was once a living thing, it will decay eventually.  Also, wood is wood and with wood there are always splinters.  Plastic (as well as rubber) is still king however not all plastics are created equal.  There have been studies about the effects of plastics on humans.  Many cases are still under scrutiny and still under debate.  There is a lot of information online regarding these studies and it’s quite easy to find the information you need.  One tip is to inspect very carefully every single piece before purchasing.  Stay within the middle to high priced sets as much as possible.  It’s also a good idea to stick with name brands since these companies will have a reputation to protect and would likely invest a lot in keeping their products safe.

How Big or Small

Size will always play an important factor in choosing your kid’s flatware.  You need to find the right size for your kid’s age.  It’s understandable that some parents buy stuff for kids that are a couple of years older than their kid’s actual age, in anticipation of their growth.  Although, being able to use them for much longer is a valid argument, you shouldn’t nitpick on it.  What’s important is that they have something they can use comfortably.

Bottom line, kids deserve only the best from their parents.  Choosing the right flatware and dinnerware for them may sound trivial but, it is essentially a big step forward in growing up.  Once your kid start eating from a plate using a spoon and fork, what he learns from that moment, he will use for the rest of his life.  So take the time to do your research for your kid’s sake.