Earliest pewter casting on display at the Museum of London

I recently spent an excellent day at the Museum of London. Located near to St Paul’s Cathedral, the museum tells the story of the city from prehistoric times to the present day.

The Museum of London has one of the earliest examples of medieval mass-produced hollow-cast pewter figures.

Dating back to around 1300, the knight on horseback wears a hauberk (coat of mail) and he carries a sword in his right hand.

This toy was probably played with by a medieval child. The presence of a large number of metal toys from London shows that there was a thriving mass market in children’s playthings during this period. Pewter was the choice alloy of manufacturers.

Purchased with the assistance of the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Museum of London’s collection of early base-metal toys is probably the largest and most important of its kind in the world.

The medieval collections (c12,000 items) are one of the most celebrated elements of the museum’s overall holdings because of their breadth, depth and quality. They are strongest in domestic objects, and provide a cross-section of the things in everyday use in medieval Britain.

Over the past 30 years major additions have been made to the collections, particularly small metal objects from the activities of Thames ‘mudlarks’, who are licensed metal detectorists searching the Thames shore. These items supplement an already outstanding collection of items such as buckles, brooches and belt-fittings.

Recent finds by mudflats include more than 600 pewter pilgrim badges, souvenirs and small secular badges.

I would recommend a visit to the Museum of London to see some of the wonderful items on display, and to marvel at the quality of medieval pewter.