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Pewter was first used around the beginning of the Bronze Age in the Near East. Pewter was used for decorative metal items and tableware in the Ancient World by the Egyptians and later the Romans, and came into extensive use in Europe from the Middle Ages until the various developments in pottery and glass-making during the 18th and 19th centuries. Pewter was also used around East Asia. Mass production of pottery, porcelain and glass products has seen pewter universally replaced in daily life.

Today, Pewter is used in decorative objects, mainly collectible statuettes and figurines, jewellery, game figures, aircraft and other models, (replica) coins, pendants and so on. Certain athletic contests, such as the United States Figure Skating Championships, award pewter medals to fourth-place finishers. Pewters containing lead are no longer used in items that will come in contact with the human body (such as cups, plates, or jewellery) due to health concerns stemming from the lead content. Modern pewters are available that are completely free of lead.