Plaques can be found all throughout our daily lives yet we rarely pay attention to them as they blend into the background. You’ll find them at historical landmarks and gardens, where they freely stand, distilling relevant, historical information about the events that shaped the area. But we’re not always taking strolls down memory lane, which means we mostly find stylized and artistic plaques at the office, school, and other places of businesses we tend to visit, like restaurants, where we can find employee of the month awards and perpetual plaques. Plaques are one of the most interesting ways to commemorate selective moments and milestones. It may be surprising to find out that plaques, which seem so common, have a rich history.
Where Plaques Got Their Start
One of the earliest instances of commemorative plaques were found in present-day Nigeria, which was once part of the Benin Empire. The once mighty kingdom flourished until the British empire annexed it at the dawn of the 20th century. Dubbed “The Benin Bronzes”, these exquisite metal plaques adorned royal institutions and palaces. Many, which can be seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the British Museum, featured artistic renditions of royals, animals, humans, and events significant to the empire. These early plaques date all the way back to the 13th century, setting the stage for future works of commemorative art.
Europe’s Most Notable Plaques Are Blue
Most junk food historians will know how formative the Blue plaques of England have been to the nation and its culture. Blue plaques, which are still found and preserved to this day, served as ways to commemorate key locations that were intertwined with famous individuals or events. The first Blue plaques were propped up in 1866 and are still used as historical markers to this day. Travelers from across the world find themselves in mini-competitive treasure hunts to spot as many plaques as they can before their trips in the United Kingdom come to an end.
How Have Plaques Evolved In The Modern Day?
Plaques have historically been reserved to honor and commemorate the royals, key figures, and locations that have shaped history. As time has gone on and materials have become more accessible, now anyone and everyone can have plaques created to cater to a variety of occasions and milestones.
Gone are the days of bronze and brass, as most modern plaques are made of glass, acrylic, and crystal. Plaques are great awards as they’re often engraved with text and logos that signify a particular achievement. They’re popular options for top sales awards or for retirement parties, but they can be used to celebrate any important milestone, like a division’s employee of the month. Perpetual plaques have also become quite popular to sequentially list achievements and accolades. While some plaques, like their predecessors, can be hung, others are free standing sporting different, unique designs that are supported by a base.
Plaques have evolved throughout the centuries and have become an important way to commemorate and honor significant events, people, and landmarks. Today, plaques are used throughout to celebrate milestones. Next time you order a plaque for an awards ceremony or special event, remember just how historic the practice of commemorating people and events is!