Kent State University Press releases new limited edition Civil War memorabilia

Megan Wilkinson

Kent State University Press released two designs of limited-edition collector plates to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War this month.

The forged aluminum plates measure six-inches in diameter. One of the plates depicts the first shots fired during the war at Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, and the other plate is a telegram message Secretary of Treasury John A. Dix sent to Colonel William Jones in 1861.

This is the first time the University Press has released collector plates, said Director Will Underwood.

“We don’t generally do merchandise, so this is something new for us,” Underwood said.

Carol Heller, administrative assistant at the University Press, came up with the idea for the plates. She said she felt the plates would be a good product to bring more revenue into the department because of the success of its Civil War History journals. The journals are scholarly works about the American Civil War that have been published quarterly for the past 60 years.

“The plates are all unique,” Heller said. “They’re very nice quality and are attractive. They make a good conversation piece, too.”

Heller said the plates are all handmade by Wendell August Forge in Brockway, Pa. The company specializes in making hand-wrought ornamental metal-ware and other gifts in aluminum.

The University Press will sell 1,000 copies of each plate until the inventory is gone. Underwood said if the product is successful, the University Press intends to release two new plates each year through 2015 to celebrate the anniversary of the Civil War.

Heller said the University Press is still deciding what designs to use for the next four years if the department chooses to continue making the plates.

“At the moment, we want to use the revenue to pay off our bills,” Heller said. “Then it will go back into the Press. We would like to build up our staff and hire some interns.”

The plates are currently on display in the showcase by the elevators on the first floor of the library.

Underwood said he recommends the plates to collectors and history fanatics. He said they make a nice memento.

Contact Megan Wilkinson at [email protected].