History, Heritage, and Tradition
Wendell August Forge is America’s oldest and largest forge, producing hand-wrought ornamental metalware and elegant giftware in aluminum and other metals since 1923. The company was founded in Brockway, Pennsylvania by Wendell McMinn August, who, at age 38, was active in the coal industry.
August engaged Ottone “Tony” Pisoni, a blacksmith in his coal mine, to hand-forge door latches for his home. Admiring the low cost and high quality of Pisoni’s work, August was inspired to start a decorative ironware business. Pisoni was joined by three more blacksmiths who handcrafted the first product line, including one-of- a-kind fireplace andirons, candlesticks, lighting standards, doorknockers, latches, railings, and grilles for windows and doors.
In 1930, a commission to create decorative aluminum gates and elevator doors for the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA) led to a new era of design innovation.
Pisoni mastered the art of forging aluminum, and the company prospered, forging the designs of James McCausland, an architect who joined Wendell August in 1928 and became Designer and Operations Manager. A commission for architectural remodeling at the Grove City National Bank proved so successful that the Bank’s president convinced Wendell August to relocate to Grove City, even investing in the company to facilitate the move. Wendell August’s Grove City forge is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
As sales of Wendell August giftware soared, the company expanded its product line to include treasured Collector’s Plates and commemoratives; Christmas ornaments and gifts; trays, bowls, and vases; gifts for personalization; and jewelry – but the fabrication process remained the same: each one still individually made by hand, in the tradition of fine craftsmanship. Among its many notable custom designs, Wendell August was engaged to create mementos in honor of the “Millionaires’ Flight” on the Hindenburg air ship, and was commissioned by the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency to produce 12 solid bronze plates commemorating the SALT II treaty between the U.S. and Russia.
Click here for the full story of the "Millionaires' Flight" of the Hindenburgh.
The heritage art of Wendell August Forge is preserved by the company’s artisans and craftsmen, who use the original eight-step process to produce every heirloom piece in aluminum, bronze, pewter, sterling silver, and other metals.
This process includes Die Engraving by a master engraver, Material Selection and Cutting, Repousse (Hammering), Surface Anvilling, Edging, Carbon Coloring, a three step polishing process, and Forming. Company artisans create new motifs and designs, while some motifs – like the ever-popular Dogwood – have endured for decades.
F.W. “Bill” Knecht, III acquired the company in 1978 from Wendell’s son, Robert August. Knecht operated the company until his death in 2004; the Knecht family still owns the company today.
Visitors to Wendell August’s four stores will find a lovely array of traditional and contemporary metalware for heart and home, from affordable gifts to elegant designs and furnishings. More than 1,000 gift items are available in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and designs, at prices ranging from under $10.00 to nearly $1,000.00. Many are complemented by colored glass and hand-painted designs. Christmas-themed gifts are particularly popular.
Free workshop tours are available during production hours in our Main Street at Exton, PA location, and children can create their own work of metal art for a nominal materials fee of just $2.00 per child in our Grove City Flagship location, Ohio's Amish Country store, and in Main Street at Exton store and workshop. Group tours are welcome; advance reservations are requested. Additionally a store is located in the Premium Outlets Grove City, PA.
In addition to the company’s four retail stores, Wendell August also works with a nationwide network of sales professionals as it handcrafts elegant yet affordable custom gifts, awards, incentives, and trophies for businesses and organizations throughout the globe. To view the business and organization presentation, visit www.wendellaugust.biz. Wendell August products are also sold through its own catalog and its strong online presence at www.wendellaugust.com.
Today Wendell August Forge maintains the same painstaking dedication to heritage and history…to artistry and craftsmanship…to quality American made products…that propelled Wendell August to first open his forge in 1923.