Colonial craftsmen pewter

 
 

In the mid 1970’s Stieff bought a maker of miniatures in Cape May NJ called Colonial Craftsmen Pewter Workshop

Colonial Craftsmen was founded by

Kendall Swint Ewer of Chester PA.

Kendall S. Ewer died in 1991, his wife Virginia in 2000.


A pre-Colonial Craftsmen piece by Kendall Ewer


A reader of the site, Amy Zimmer kindly sent me these photos of a set of

four Kendall Ewer buttons she found in a bag of mixed buttons.

(all four buttons were the same)



Back of button is imprinted,  K. Ewer Pewterer Cape May NJ

English Pewter No lead



A marriage later in life to the former Virginia Maine brought Mrs. Ewer into the business

as Vice President. Her name appears on some packages of Colonial Craftsmen


When Stieff bought the company, operations were moved from

Cape May to the Stieff factory in Baltimore


Stieff also made miniatures for Colonial Williamsburg

in both Pewter and Sterling Silver


In the early 1970s, Larry Thompson worked summers for Colonial Craftsmen in Cape May. He did the assembly of the pieces. His mother Eleanor worked in sales, shipping and the office. His father Larry made the original model pieces and molds for the miniature pieces... using a hot rubber mold press.  Larry says “Molten pewter was pored into the mold and spun to eliminate air bubbles. My father created many of the original models by looking at old Sears catalogs and seeing what they were selling during the time period he was copying.  He would look at the pictures and then carve or mold the object in the epoxy.  I am not sure how Ken made his models”


Larry has kindly shared some of his photos with us and you can see them by clicking on the photo below of the Colonial Craftsmen  “Pewter Shop”




Below are images of the products made by Colonial Craftsmen in both Cape May and at Stieff. Photos from various sources.

I have not attempted to date any of the pieces.

 

Early piece, with Virginia Ewer’s signature


Coffee pot and  a Chicken Tureen


Wood Stove out of package and a Carving Set


Curtain Rods


Bottom of covered dish says NO LEAD PEWTER


Federal Mirror and Goblets


A pair of Heath Dogs and a Duck



A place setting for the table

 









 





The back of one the Cape May produced products reads:


6 PC. MINIATURE PEWTER PLACE SETTING / You will be proud to own this lead-free, American pewter. All our products are cast and hand finished. The fine shop where you bought this has many of our other lovely creations! / COLONIAL CRAFTSMEN PEWTER WORKSHOP, Box 337, 1282 Lafeyette, Cape May, N.J., 08204 / K. Ewer Pewterer, Cap May, N.J. (c).

 

This is a pewter family, hand painted.


Sizes range from 1” to 3/8”    Like some other items, these are hand painted, covering the pewter




These Sterling Silver Miniatures were made for Williamsburg

I do not know the years of manufacture


The item numbers are different on these packages. I assume that the larger packaging is the later of the two styles. The large package would also help prevent shoplifting of such small pieces.



The spoon is slightly hidden by the top of the packaging

If you are a member of the Ewer or Maine families or have knowledge

of the Colonial Craftsmen business, please contact me at scottinelmgrove@yahoo.com

 

Richard Cain, former silversmith/pewterer/mold maker/production supervisor and what ever else had to be done, told  me in 2014 that when the molds from Colonial Craftsmen arrived from Cape May.. that they all leaked like a sieve.. and were hard to use. The castings that the molds were made from were in terrible shape and many were missing. The whole line of Colonial Craftsmen had to be remade... almost from scratch. This is normally a long process but they had to remake models, re-cast and make new molds for the whole line in less than 30 days


Production was very low by Stieff standards and a whole years production was made in a couple weeks.. and the product put into inventory on the shelf. In 1979, orders came down to box up all the molds and current inventory and send them to the shipping dept.  He does not remember where they were shipped to. He says that he was very happy to see them go away.


Through other research, it appears that the brand was bought by the “House of Miniatures”  based at the time in New York City.  HoM was owned by CBS which was held a very diverse portfolio.


Pewter Fireplace set by Colonial Craftsmen/Stieff

Scale shown by quarter

 

Here is a Colonial Craftsmen pamphlet provided by

Fred “shorty” Lange

These are photos so the sharpness is a tad blurred, but we appreciate having

them as they help tell the story of the early days of Colonial Craftsmen



Kits were sold of entire rooms (above)


wall paper samples (above)



Fred Lange also provided this 1974 article on

Colonial Craftsmen Pewter




The Colonial Craftsmen division was gone by the end of 1979... perhaps to make room for the newly purchased rival silversmith S. Kirk & Son. Room had to be made for the Kirk team as they were moved into the  Stieff factory.