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Pewter and Pewterers from Port Royal, Jamaica: Flatware Before 1692

Shirley Gotelipe-Miller
Thesis: August 1990
Chair: Hamilton
Nautical Archaeology Program


Port Royal's Pewter Collection comprises the worlds largest assemblage of late seventeenth-century pewterware, the earliest examples of English colonial pewter, and the most extensive hoard of pewter artifacts recovered from a single archaeological setting. Over 150 pieces of flatware alone, bearing more than 50 distinct makers' marks and/or ownership monograms are represented. This important collection holds interest for pewter collectors and archaeologists alike: collectors can gain insight into the sociology surrounding pewter use through archaeological associations; archaeologists can learn more about their site through identification of pewter touchmarks and ownership initials.

The scope of this study was limited to pewter flatware (i.e. plates, bowls and serving dishes) from the Port Royal Pewter Collection. Artifacts recovered by the INA/TAMU excavations were analyzed within their archaeological context, while those salvaged by other groups were used for supportive evidence, and to gain a more global picture of the styles and craftsmen represented by the collection.

Research objectives were the following: 1) to explore the channels through which pewter arrived in Port Royal, and to perhaps gain insight into seventeenth-century commerce between England and her colonies; 2) to use pewter artifacts as a means to understanding Port Royal's submerged ruins by examining archaeological associations and ownership monograms; 3) to use relevant archival documents to explore the social and economic role pewterers fulfilled in the colonial environment; and 4) to fully document flatware in the collection, establishing guidelines for recording archaeologically recovered pewter.


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