A brief history of the Academy Award

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The 89th Academy Awards will take place on 26th February in Hollywood, Los Angeles. Standing at 13.5 inches tall and weighing 8.5 pounds, the ‘Oscar’ is probably one of the most recognisable awards of modern times.

The statuette was designed by Cedric Gibbons, art director with MGM, and depicts a knight gripping a crusader’s sword, standing on a film reel.

It was first presented in May 1929 to Best Actor, Emil Jennings for his roles in ‘The Last Command’ and ‘The Way of All Flesh’. Since then, a total of 2,947 statuettes have been awarded. The Academy’s five areas of discipline – directors, actors, producers, writers and technicians – are all represented by the five spokes on the film reel.

The original name of the statuette is the Academy Award of Merit, but is usually referred to by its nickname of ‘Oscar’, supposedly after a comment made by Academy librarian Margaret Herrick, that the statuette looked like her uncle Oscar. The nickname was formally adopted in 1939.

The statuettes are made from a pewter-like alloy with 24 carat gold plating, but during the second world war, a metal shortage led to them being made of painted plaster. These were replaced after the war with the original gold plated ones.

New statuettes are cast every January, and although the number of nominations are known in advance, it is not until the winners are announced on the night that the number of statuettes needed is known. Any surplus ‘Oscars’ are stored until the following year’s ceremony.

At H. Cooper Engravers, we have several designs of glass and crystal awards suitable for any occasion.

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