Danforth Pewter

American Made Since 1975

Fred Danforth & Judi Danforth

Middlebury, Vermont
We design & handcraft a wide range of jewelry, holiday ornaments, oil lamps & wedding, birthday and baby gifts from a 100% lead-free fine pewter.

Tell us about your business.

Fred & Judi Danforth founded Danforth Pewter in 1975, building on a family tradition that started when Thomas Danforth II opened a pewter workshop in 1755 in colonial Connecticut. Generations of the family followed him into the pewter trade, and there is colonial Danforth pewter in the Smithsonian, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the DeWitt Wallace Museum in Williamsburg, VA, and many other American museums. Today, every piece of Danforth pewter is crafted by hand in our Middlebury, Vermont workshop. Danforth products are available in our retail store in Middlebury, with viewing windows into the workshop, and in our retail stores in Burlington, Waterbury, and Quechee, Vermont, and Williamsburg, Virginia. You can also find us at Danforth products are available in select gift and home decor shops across the country. We also have a wide variety of corporate gifts for retirements, anniversaries, and recognition. Last, we do custom design work too.

What makes your business stand out?

We are unique in building on a 250-year family legacy in American pewter. We have a unique collection of pewtering skills in our workshop -- we cast molten pewter into molds to make jewelry, holiday ornaments, keyrings and other solid products. We spin disks of pewter on lathes, in a room-temperature process that is like throwing a pot on a potter's wheel, to make vases, oil lamps, plates, mugs and other hollow pieces. We solder, we polish, we hammer, we apply satin finishes, we color, we design, we make molds, we make tooling. We make a broader product line than any other American pewter shop. We were honored when Shirley Pewter of Williamsburg chose Danforth to make the Shirley Collection in our workshop after Shirley Robertson's family decided to retire from the pewter business, and similarly honored when Bill Wilson chose us to take over the manufacturing of the WTWilson line of pewter products. We make everything from $2.50 good luck charms to $250 oil lamps.

What's the best business advice you've received?

1. Never guess when you can know. 2. "Fail fast, fail cheap." -- Doug Hall, Eureka! Ranch. What this really means is figure out a way to try lots of things without betting too much on any one of them, then pursue those that work and scrap those that don't. 3. "Plans are useless; planning is indispensable." -- General Eisenhower. In a business context, be aware that it is very rare for a business to lay out a strategic plan and then execute it. In the real world, things change every day and your plans have to adapt. Even so, the process of identifying, analyzing, synthesizing and prioritizing the threats to your business, the opportunities you have, the competitive landscape, consumer behavior, etc that you have to go through to create a good strategic plan is crucial to managing your business well, even if things change and you toss the plan out the day after it's written.

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