Commemorative Plates

The story behind the plate – taken from an article in the January 1979 issue of The Western Reserve Magazine.

The Kettlesprings Kilns operated out of its Hiram headquarters since 1950, producing thousands of commemorative plates for special events such as fairs, homecomings, golden jubilees, museums, churches, centennials, and much more. Richard (Dick) Fay was the coordinator of design and production, whose sketches frequently appeared on the plates. He faced interesting challenges while trying to capture the aura of the past, working from yellowed, brittle newspapers, faded photographs, old postcards, written descriptions, and sometimes “modern” photos. He rarely got a first-hand look at the buildings, scenes, or people he was sketching.

Only sketches or line art could be used on the plates. Once the art was approved by the customer, a zinc plate and rubber stamp were made. Then production began at a factory near Sebring. Before the plates were boxed and shipped, a short explanation of the person, place, or event was hand-stamped on the back. Kettlesprings’ busiest period began about two years before the Bicentennial and extended through 1976. In 1979 at the time of this article, Kettlesprings was the largest distributor of commemorative plates in the world.

Stow Historical Society ordered a Kettlesprings plate in 1975 featuring local historic sites, such as the first town hall (later to become the Children’s Chapel of Stow’s First Christian Church), the old Silver Lake Aquarium (later to become the Community Church of Stow), and the new old town hall (first begun as Stow Township Centralized School and razed to make way for the present City Hall at the corner of Darrow and Graham Roads). We still have some of these plates available for sale at $8.99 each. As noted in the article, special plates are manufactured for special events, and “When they’re gone, they’re gone.”  If you are interested in purchasing one plate or several, please contact one of the board members or email All proceeds benefit the archival activities of Stow Historical Society.

Heritage plate Back (1)