Because pewter contains lead, which is poisonous, the composition of pewter must be controlled so that it does not harm its users. For this reason, pewterware has had marks, called “touches”, from as early as the Middle Ages.
The first mention of marks indicating the quality of pewter in England dates from 1474.The oldest marks contain the initials and heraldic device of the locality and/or the coat of arms of the town plus the year the pewterer “opened shop” (not the year of manufacture). A separate mark containing the name of the town was sometimes used.
In 1564, the Tudor rosette was used for the first time on pewter. It came to be regarded, even on pewter made outside England, as an indication that the highest quality metals had been used. From 1694 to the 18th century, items of exceptionally high quality were also marked with an X.
In addition to these marks, from 1635 to the beginning of the 18th century, smaller hallmarks in sets of four, similar to silver hallmarks, were used.