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Pewter jug


This lidded pewter jug, a pint wine measure of baluster form is shown as it was shortly after being brought up from the seabed in 1981, as well as after conservation. It was found on the main deck of the Mary Rose.

It is 150mm in height and weighs just over 1kg, with a solid strap handle attached to the body by a strut, a flat lid with a flat  plume thumbpiece having nine rays, and a recessed base. It has the stamped initials “RWE” or  “BWE” on the lid, a marking that also appears on a couple of items in the Surgeon’s cabin, so may be a maker’s mark.

Although the composition of the metal indicates low tin/high lead (61.7%/38.3%), this is probably an English piece (the low tin pewter being allowable for hollow-ware of this type). Low-leaded objects from relatively oxygenated environments, unprotected by the deeper anaerobic silts, tended to develop corroded surfaces with pustule-like growths of corrosion products often leaving very little of the original metal behind.

Luckily the high lead content of this jug means that when it was brought up it was simply coated with a thin layer of lead compounds, which is why it is a black/brown colour in the picture. It was later treated with the electrolytic removal of chlorides, ensuring that sufficient metal remained to make satisfactory electrical contact. This was followed by thorough washing to remove any residual electrolyte and a finishing coat of wax was applied.