Monday, December 5, 2011

The Companies and Their Motifs

Wendell August Forge 

The plan for future Aluminist postings is to present as many as possible of the old motifs of the various companies. 

The first maker, the Wendell August Forge:

         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.
       Wendell August was a businessman, the great grandson of a Russian immigrant, and owned a coal a blacksmith shop and mine.
     Early in the 1920s, 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 current 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 Kaufmanns' 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.

A more complete history can be found in my book, Hammered Aluminum-Hand Wrought Collectibles Book Two.

The motifs to follow, are those developed for items made by the Forge from approximately 1930-1978, and are the ones most favored by collectors. The Forge's long history may make this list a long one.

Perhaps the most popular of all
the Forge's motif. It was used on
trays, bowls, candleholders,
silent butlers, boxes...the list
is a long one.
I believe there are several
versions of this. It appeared
on toasters & other breakfast
type pieces..toast holders, etc.

This has not appeared as often
as many of their other motifs. It's a nice
pattern but may not have been as
adaptable as others.
This swan on a small dish, is the
only one I have seen. I'm sure there
many others.

The Thistle seemed to be rather
popular. The detail is great.

The Iris motif on a Wendell August
vase is often featured in various books
and articles. It's a great piece but I have no
 idea how widespread this motif became.

Another motif not often least
not in Texas.