Pewterers’ Banner is painted silk banner with a fringe on the top, bottom, and right side. It was carried in parades by men in the Pewterer’s Guild. This banner was probably made for the Pewterers who were amongst the 5,000 men who paraded in New York City in 1788, to celebrate the new Constitution of the United States. There were many banners and floats in the parade, but this Pewterer’s banner is the only surviving artefact from that day. The parade represented widespread support for the new Constitution and would have helped the state representatives to quickly finalise their debate because the next day the New York State assembly ratified the Constitution. Similar, celebratory parades were held in cities such as Baltimore, Charleston, Philadelphia and Boston.
On the top left side is an American flag with 13 stars, one for each state in the new union. Below the flag is the Pewterer’s coat of arms and their motto: “SOLID AND PURE”. On the right side, there are four workers are making pewter objects under the wording: “SOCIETY of PEWTERERS”. Above them is an inscription that expresses the hopes of the Pewterers for the new nation. It reads:
“The Federal Plan most solid & secure / Americans their freedom will ensure / All arts shall flourish in Columbia’s Land/ and all her sons join as one social band.”
The Pewterers worked with pewter which is a malleable metal alloy of tin together with metals like copper or zinc. Silver is also sometimes used, and it has a low melting point, depending on the exact mixture of metals. Pewter was used in the ancient world and came into extensive use in Europe from the Middle Ages. Pewter items are often found in churches and were extensively used for domestic and commercial tableware such as plates and spoons and tankards. Mass production of pottery, porcelain and glass products has seen pewter universally replaced in day-to-day life.
- Title: Pewterers’ Banner
- Year: 1788
- Material: Silk, paint
- Dimensions: 92 x 120 x 2 3/4 in. (233.7 x 304.8 x 7 cm)
- Museum: New-York Historical Society
“Isn’t it astonishing that all these secrets have been preserved for so many years just so we could discover them!” Orville Wright
Photo Credit: By Joyofmuseums (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons