The dictionary definition of a plaque is “a thin, flat plate or tablet of metal, porcelain, stone, etc., intended for ornament, as on a wall, or set in a piece of furniture” or as “an inscribed commemorative tablet, usually of metal [or polished marble or granite] placed on a building, monument, or the like.”
In this article, we’ll explore the bronze plaque and the aluminum plaque as memorials and signs.
The Bronze Plaque as a Historical Sign and Marker
The bronze plaque is frequently used as memorial plates for various historical or important locations. Historically, it has been in use for at least a few millenia, and the four Botorrita plaques, discovered between 1970 and 1994, are bronze plaques discovered in Botorrita (Roman Contrebia Belaisca), close to Zaragoza, Spain, dating back to 1st century BC.
This was cast in 1982 and commemorates a pre-Revolutionary battle led by Charles and Andrew March, who, with 1200 colonists engaged a band of Shawnee Indians at Point Pleasant (oh, the irony!) in West Virginia on the Ohio River.
The one on this Bank of Scotland facility in this picture probably dates back to the 1700’s or 1800’s.
The township of Madison Green, Connecticut, dates back to early colonial days, and the green, or park, houses three war memorial plaques set in either boulders or a cut stone monument. The Revolutionary War, World War I, World War II, and the Korean War, are all commemorated by the metal signage created for each one.
Cast Aluminum Plaques – Why They’re Becoming More Popular
Now, these are used more frequently as they are less expensive, and they are easier to cast or mold than bronze. The “Victims of Terrorist Attack on the Pentagon Memorial” is a new memorial constructed at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. It commemorates the victims of the September 11 attack on The Pentagon, in particular the five individuals from whom no identifiable remains could be found. There are 184 names inscribed in the aluminum plaque of those who died in the attack.
Another interesting plaques were the gold-anodized place on board the Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 in 1972 and 1973, respectively. They were designed to show extra-terrestrial life the origin of the spacecraft in case they were intercepted by alien spacecraft and featured the nude outlines of a man and woman and some other symbols that were intended to help the extra-terrestrials figure out where the craft came from, then blow us to smithereens as depicted in many Hollywood movies.
Metal Plaque Uses in the 21st Century
In our line of business, we’ve created quite a number of plaque signs over the years, mostly for some type of memorial or recognition, but also for address and house number. We’ve also done a number for businesses in areas of town where gaudier signs weren’t allowed, and on older buildings where it just seemed that the bronze kind was really the only sign that fit the look of the building.
Technology has changed the way some of them are decorated in the past 20 years or so. Although the basic metal plaque is still made in much the same way as the Romans did it 2000 years ago, there have been some technology advances over the past few decades that made it possible to etch them, add color photos, and create BAS and Photo Relief portraits, Flat Relief portraits, and Glazed Porcelain Photos can all be added to plaques.
Most that are used as signs or memorials are around 3/8″ to 1/2″ thick, but there are also 1/8″ “thin gauge” plaques available now. Copy on the bronze one is almost always in relief, or raised. The letters or logos can also be painted, and the background is typically painted with a durable urethane. Other material options include stainless steel, copper, and brass, although these materials are typically etched rather than cast. Brass can be cast, as can copper, but stainless steel, at this time, cannot be that we’re aware of.
Finally, when it comes to a sign that says your establishment doesn’t cut corners, the bronze plaque or the aluminum plaque will say it more convincingly than most other sign options. Click here to find out for more.