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Historic Forge Burns to the Ground

Historic Forge Burns to the Ground

Wendell August Forge owner Frank W. "Will" Knecht looks over memorabilia, records and other items salvaged from Saturday's fire.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via YellowBrix

March 08, 2010

The company, which employed 50 people, made fixtures for the Stouffer restaurant chain and for passenger ships. During the Depression, it made architectural pieces including aluminum grills, lights and fixtures. Two forge pieces are in the Smithsonian Institution.

The factory, which sat on Madison Avenue under a large American flag, has been owned by Mr. Knecht’s family since 1978. Its craftspeople make ornaments, trays, bowls, figurines and coasters.

All products — made of pewter, stainless and sterling silver, bronze, aluminum and copper — are hammered into hand-carved steel dies in a process called “reposse.”

Wendell August is the creator of this process and the only working forge in Pennsylvania, said Laurie Kerkering, co-manager of the Exton store, one of four the forge operates.

The foundry produced the signature “flying ducks” chafing dish known to generations of Americans, as well as a souvenir coaster depicting the Pittsburgh skyline. The forge also made 75 light fixtures for St. Bernard Church in Mt. Lebanon and 12 bronze plates for President Jimmy Carter and other signers of the SALT II arms treaty in 1979.


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