As we eagerly anticipate the release of The Thistle we want to again reference an except from the book Wendell August Forge – Seventy Five Years of Artistry in Metal.
In this except we will be quoting a 1946 Alcoa advertisement featuring Wendell August Forge, and the birth of our retail products.
You couldn’t exactly say the architect launched the business. Nor two blacksmiths who made some aluminum gates. Or the department store executive who sparked to an idea. And we of Alcoa were merely building a building.
But today in Grove City, Pa., there’s a thriving company that owes its existence to the part each of these played.
The architect’s plan for the Aluminum Research Laboratories’ new building, in 1929, called for imposing entrance gates made of cast aluminum. Wendell August, blacksmith shop owner, asked for a chance to bid, but on the basis of hand forging aluminum bars. He got the job and put his two smiths to making the gates.
When the architect saw their beautiful handcraft he suggested hammering out several aluminum serving trays, in repoussé, as souvenirs for some of our executives. Delighted…and sensing a new, marketable product… they showed their trays to a department store president.
He sparked. An order followed… and Wendell August Forge Inc., was started. This way, we believe, the first company in the aluminum giftware business. Since them, many others have gone into it and done well….
The pattern from the Alcoa doors was a thistle design, but the tray became known as “the tray that launched a business”, The Thistle.
On March 6, 2011, nearly 82 years after the initial introduction of this pivotal work, and on the one year anniversary of the beginning of recovery from our historic fire, we are introducing a limited edition of this historic iron die to one hundred customers. This is a numbered series with only 100 being produced, so act quickly to own your piece of history.