What many people may not know or understand about Armetale, or perhaps may disregard, is that "ARMETALE" can only be made by ONE manufacturer: WILTON of Mt. Joy, Pennsylvania, formerly of Columbia, Pennsylvania.
Armetale was created in the early 1960's by the Wilton family-run company, "Wilton Brass". Armetale is a registered TRADEMARK and protected by copyright laws, thus it can NOT be made, nor claimed by any other manufacturer. Armetale is a unique, non-toxic aluminum-based alloy (composed of ten different metals), and "... has been analyzed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and conforms to guidelines for the safe handling of food and beverages."
Armetale is not pewter but is often perceived to be, partly because there is no universal name for the multitude of varying aluminum based alloys made by many manufacturers. Wilton Armetale certainly appears to be the most popular of these and perhaps that is why so many people wrongly identify other similar products with the claim of "armetale".
How can you tell the difference between Wilton Armetale and it's many imitators? It's really easy, ... Wilton ALWAYS stamps ALL of their items with it's "touch" or hallmark, the 3 letters: RWP. They are always found in a circle with W usually larger than the R and P. Generally found on the bottom or the side of an item, the mark varies in size on different pieces. The word WILTON may, or may not, be stamped. You can see the original "RWP" stamp in the center of the Dealer's sign in this photo:
Wilton's newer version of the RWP stamp is now surrounded by an additional outer circle and includes the words: THE WILTON CO.
A short HISTORY...
Sometimes confusing, the Wilton family companies are multi-faceted and overlapping .....
Susquehanna Castings began in 1893 by the Wilton family in Wrightsville, PA. (it was later merged into the Wilton Brass Company).
The origin of the Wilton Products company is unknown but believed to be approximately 1935. It was the immediate, separate but overlapping, successor to Susquehanna Castings. Susquehanna made iron products, while Wilton Products decorated them. Wilton Products was popular throughout the 1940's & 1950's until it's close in 1989.
Wilton Brass was established in 1954 in Columbia, Pennsylvania, and offered brass objects made for industry and consumers. In 1963 this company developed another metal from an aluminum based alloy which it called "ARMETALE". By the late 1960's the Armetale products overshadowed the brass offerings. The company continued to be known as the "Wilton Brass Company" until well into the 1980's, while still making Armetale.
It's not clear when they officially changed their company name to "Wilton Armetale", but around 1969 they moved their production in Columbia, PA to a foundry in Mt. Joy, PA. Although Wilton will always stamp all their products with RWP, the city of origin (Columbia or Mt. Joy) is not always found. Thus, if you see "Columbia" stamped, the item was most likely made before the 1970's.
As a seller, buyer or collector of Wilton Armetale products, what you need to know for authenticity is whether or not the "RWP" stamp is on the product.
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