Thank you for visiting Billy and Charlie's. We are pleased to offer a line of replica medieval pewter jewelry, belt fittings, pilgrim signs, spoons, bells, whistles, and knicknacks which are cast in handmade stone molds. We cast in a modern lead-free pewter, but our designs and molds are authentically medieval. Most of our items are based on examples from the mid-fourteenth through the fifteenth centuries; some of the items are appropriate for periods slightly before and after that. We welcome your comments and suggestions for items to add to our inventory.

Our Catalog

Our Pieces

Our Sources

  Who We Are   
      Who Are Billy and Charlie?      
   Got Questions?  


Our Catalog

In our Web catalog, we have shown the brooches, buckles, and other trinkets at roughly their true size (depending on your screen size, resolution, etc.). It's tough to get an idea of them on the screen, but we find it works to put your hand up next to them as if you were picking them up. (We have also supplied dimensions for each piece.) Then, because we know you can hardly tell anything about the pieces at that size, we have also shown them at approximately twice life size; for most images, if you click on the picture itself, you will go to the enlargement. Click on the large image to return to where you were.


Our Pieces

The majority of our pieces are copies or near copies of extant medieval works. A handful are extrapolations which combine the features of several remaining brooches or signs. A few are fantasies - adaptations of pieces or techniques to a modern purpose, such as badges of affinity for re-enactors. We also have a small personal collection of authentic materials from which we have copied some of our pieces. Please contact us if you have medieval examples to sell; we are interested in pieces we can reproduce, of course, and in things we have reproduced (although it's always distressing to find out where one has fouled up). We are interested in belt fittings, especially if they differ from the ones we have seen published, and in hollow items (other than ampullae), hollow-backed castings, and items which have been made with cores. We are also interested in materials from which we can learn about the technologies of production, even if they are not complete or in good shape: items where you can see the remains of sprues, where there are thickened places or other traces of the mold on the back of the piece, etc. and molds themselves.


Our Sources

You will find the source for each piece and the level of authenticity noted at the end of the catalog entries. For example, in the following description:

 

The Pattens are copied from a Netherlandish trinket. They represent a common type of footware, worn over (but most importantly, under!) your shoes to keep them out of the dirt and mud.

Pattens $5.00
* van Beuningen, no. 993

the source is van Beuningen, number 993. Follow the link from the asterisk * to a bibliography which gives full publication information for each abbreviated reference work.

When the asterisk * is used, the item is a very close copy of the single piece identified, with no changes made except to fill in minor losses or damage. When the hatch mark # is used, the item is different in some minor way from its examplar(s) - usually it includes a reconstruction of a missing section based on closely related original pieces or we have given an attachment pin to an item that was originally supposed to be sewn on, or have produced the item in mirror image. When a tilde ~ is used, we have produced an item without copying a specific examplar; these are usually items in pewter where our source was in a different material or items created on iconographic evidence.

 

Who We Are

We are Marianne Hansen, a librarian, and Robert MacPherson, one of the foremost armorers in the world today. Mac is a tech wiz and Marianne loves the medieval technologies of mass production - casting and printing in particular. Billy and Charlie's grew out of our involvement with a couple of groups of re-enactors, although we are now only tangentially involved with them. You can still find us dressed up every so often, especially at the SCA's Pennsic War. Other than that event, we do not currently sell in person, but drop us a line if you are running a market, fair, event, or other get together where we might add to the fun.


So Who Are Billy and Charlie?

They were a couple of semi-literate ditchdiggers who moved aggressively to supply "medieval" pewter artifacts when a taste for them arose among British collectors in the middle of the nineteenth century. Large scale construction in London and Paris led to excavations and dredging operations in which a number of authentic pilgrim signs, brooches, and other items came to light. When the demand outstripped the supply, these enterprising men produced a line of (stunningly inauthentic) items which they sold with great success. The story of their operation (including its ending in the courts) is recounted in B. Marsden, 'The Shadwell Shams - The Story of the "Billy and Charley" Forgeries.' Popular Archaeology, April, 1982, 17-19. Their products are called "Billys and Charleys" in their honor.

We spell Charlie with IE, instead of EY - so much more refined, don't you think?

We are, incidentally, interested in hearing from you if you have real Billys and Charleys to sell; we would like to add one to our collection of antique pewter goods.


I've Got Questions!

Good! We've got answers! Please review our QFA's (Questions Frequently Asked) if it's a question about our materials, processes, or morals. Other than that you can write us at billy@billyandcharlie.com and we'll do our best to answer.

We are still building this site, and we are feeling our way into selling by mail, so we expect that we will find areas of confusion, types of information you need that we have not yet provided, services that will help you that we don't offer yet, and so on. We appreciate your help in solving these problems by letting us know about them and by offering your suggestions.

 


 

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