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News-Antique.com - Jul 12,2007 - July 12, 2007—Collectors appreciate the delicate distinctions the rest of us sometimes miss. In the world of pewter, Charles V. Swain knew those distinctions by heart.
For Swain there was magic in the lustrous silver-gray metal. It captured his attention in the early-1920s and remained with him for the rest of his life.
For almost 50 years he collected, researched, studied and analyzed pewter. Swain studied the molds and castings. He studied the thumb pieces, handles, lids and spouts. With his discerning eye, Swain solved pewter mysteries.
He focused on British as well as American made pewter. He discovered early pewteres used parts interchangeably. The mid-section of a teapot might be exactly the same as a sugar bowl. Knowing this enabled Swain to attribute unmarked pewter to its rightful creator.
Swain was an active member of the Pewter Collectors Club of America. In his later years he had two wishes. The first was to have his collection published. The second was to acquire two pieces of rare 18th century pewter, the John Will flagon (pitcher) and chalice.
His first wish came true when his nephew, Donald L. Fennimore published the two volume catalogue of his collection in 2002. The second wish was realized when he purchased his prized flagon and chalice attributed to John Will.
Swain died a short time later. His collection and life had come full circle.
The pieces sold on Feb. 24, 2007, in the first of three Swain pewter auctions scheduled at Northeast Auctions, Portsmouth, N.H. The next auctions are scheduled for May 19 and Aug. 3.
The John Will flagon and chalice sold together for $138,000. The pieces originally belonged to the Round Top Lutheran Church in Bethel, N.Y. The communion set was purchased for the church in 1760.
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