Thursday, June 30, 2011

WA Motifs

Sharing our collections was the purpose of the Aluminist when it was started more than 25 years ago and now notes and comments are again beginning to trickle in. Today's question concerns a tray depicting a 1939 World Fair building and the modernistic Trylon and Perisphere shown below. The question: Is this a souvenir tray or one made afterwards?

I know there are collectors of the 1939 World Fair memorabilia which does  include numerous aluminum trays. Perhaps one will read our question and help us our.

 Although there are pages of listing of World Fair information on the Internet I doubt if there is the information we seek.

As I have turned through my notebooks of saved letters and clippings along with sketches, I am amazed at how much information I have...some printable, some not. I read letters from the late Bill Knetch and return in time to the aluminum shows in Allentown and to the phone calls from Bill and the late Bob Cree and the long visits we had. I miss them so much.
Although this blog can never replace the personal contacts we collectors had through the shows, more comments are coming in and I'm hoping we will once more have a network of collectors sharing information and their questions. I may be wrong, but I believe that if you are signed in to this blog as a follower, you will receive a message alerting you to whatever comments are posted. I'm sure you realize that I could verify this detail with a bit of research, but after this post and all access to my blogs and even to creating a new blog disappeared last night and I spent hours navigating help and information fields, I am a bit tired of hunting information!
     Thankfully, most of what disappeared last night, was returned a few hours ago, so I, and dozens of other bloggers can resume our postings.

Old Wendell August Motifs:

Unmarked spoon hansle
identified by Bill Knecht
as probably the Farge's
Iris motif.

Lg. tray in Sail motif and
fish hook handles with
portion of table stand
(in auction catalog)


Monday, June 27, 2011

Wendell August motifs

Catching up:
     Numerous emails came in concerning Continental. Judging by the number of comments and questions that are received, the popularity of this company's Mum  motif seems to surpass all other aluminum gift wares. What is your favorite motif? Your favorite piece?

       Questions concerning prices arrive often.  This Cellini vase below is going on eBay and the seller was curious about its value. What would your estimate be? It is gorgeous but has darkened interior and inside pitting.

Cellini vase with black
bakelite and alum. base.
Double stamped

Flaw on one side


Apple blossom,

Fleur de lis motif (listed as Grecian in
Conestoga auction catalog


Coffee Bean 

Patterns listed as available on select pieces in the 1948 catalog include Apple (commonly spoken of as Apple Blossom),  Pine, Bittersweet, Dogwood, Cactus, Ducks, Sail, Bird Dog, Trout, Horse Head, Sailboat, Educational, Daisy, Grape, Turkey, Tropical Fish, Iris, and Water Lily.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Auction catlog

As promised yesterday, here are more photos of the Conestoga auction pieces. They did not transfer at all well. The best way to view these is to go to the website and browse the entire aluminum listing and learn more about the colorful Blinko glass that is also included. Individual pieces are not described and each lot contains 3 to 11 or more pieces. I had hoped to include most of their photos but after trying several means of transfer, I found none that gave us a good quality image of the items.

This set includes what appears
 to be 2 sizes of tumblers
 and custard cups.
Continental in the leaf and acorn
Add caption

Bruce Fox


Occasionally the lots are listed by the same motif used by various companies.
These to the left appear to be Wendell August.
Wendell August in Pine
  Bruce Fox using fish accents    

All appear to be Buenilum
Picture frames by various makers

Everlast  Bamboo 

Animal motifs

Lighting devices. 

I am truly sorry for the quality of these photos. They are shown to give an idea of the great variety of aluminum wares that will be in the auction. Several bank lamps are shown in the catalog, more colored aluminum that we remember so well, and hundreds of other items.

Go to  click on the Friday july 15 date under the photograph of glass and aluminum, when that site opens look toward the upper right for "view catalog."

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wendell August Forge/auction photos

 Our first posting again relates to the July auction.

La Mirada ceramic on
Wendell August Pine
patterned holder
Bunilum cocktail shaker and teapot
with Lucite  handles
Toaster in wheat motif.
Wendell August

Arthur Armour trays &
magazine holder in World Map

Usually unmarked handbags, 2 types
if closures, lg. mum-like motif

Wendell August table with
what may be a sailfish motif

Wendell August lamp, tray & bowl
in an old motif

The auction catalog is ready for viewing and if I have been successful in transferring photos of the aluminum I will include them here for your viewing, Although many of us will not find it convenient to participate in the bidding, the photos give us an unique opportunity to see a great variety of aluminum wares.

Future plans for the Aluminist
The plan for future Aluminist postings is to present as many as possible of the old motifs of the Forge. These are the ones favored by collectors…a preference I share although I have not determined the exact reasons. Today’s beautiful work by the Forge will surely be a sought after collectible of the future. The same plan will continue for other companies.

Wendell August Forge....the first.

   The Wendell August Forge, the company name that brings aluminum collectors to full alert whenever they hear the name or spy a piece on a shop shelf, was not always a producer of the decorative giftware of today…or even yesterday.  Wendell 
August was a businessman, the great grandson of a Russian immigrant, and owned a coal mine and a blacksmith shop.

     Early in the ‘20s, August had the shop create door latches for his new home and
launched the shop into a new business of forging ornamental iron, a popular architectural decoration of the time although cast aluminum was becoming popular.
     Alcoa was planning its new research laboratory and as producer of aluminum, they planned to incorporate its use throughout the building. Wendell August thought that instead of the method if casting the molten metal, his forge could hand wrought the cold metal and had his workers create several examples. One story credits Natale Rossi, an Italian immigrant worker at the blacksmith shop, as being insistent that he could create such work and did so, impressing Alcoa with the beauty of the work and securing Wendell August the contract for making Alcoa’s ornamental gates.
     WAF also secured the contract for making the decorative aluminum panels for the elevator doors. Their striking design, made by the repousse method, so impressed the architect that he suggested that small mementos be made for Alcoa executives, which, in turn, led to Kaufmann’s Pittsburg department store requesting a line of small giftware items to sell in their store.
     Thus a new industry began, spawning numerous other forges and providing employment for many, until the need for aluminum in the WWll defenses closed the forges. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Auction photos

Unusual lamp.

Recent information from the Conestoga Auction Company:

We are anticipating the catalogs to be ready in approx. 2 weeks. The catalog will be just the listing of the lots, with no photographs. The photographs and the descriptions will be posted online through as soon as it is completed. Anyone who is interested in the sale can either call or email us to order the free listing, or view the items online at anytime. There will be a link on our website that will lead anyone directly to the online catalog.

The Aluminist will be notified once the list is online and the information will be passed on.

Here are he last of the photos sent earlier by the auction company. The remainder will be available online with a few transferred to the Aluminist blog.

I can make only tentative IDs of the above but they probably include Wendell August, Cellini, and Bruce Fox .Just guessing!

 Additional information has been added to the last post's photo identification.
See comment below.

The next issue will return to our normal posting of company backgrounds and products. Your thoughts and information are most welcome.