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The Emmy Statuette Is A Marvel Of Art And Science

Explore the rich history of the coveted trophy before The Emmy Awards airs on Sept. 17.
Posted on Jun 15, 2017 | 12:25pm
The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards are a chance to celebrate the finest work on television. When a nominee becomes a winner, they'll also take home one of the finest works in the industry: an Emmy® statuette.

The award represents not only the success of the honoree, but also decades of rich history and fine American-made craftsmanship.

A love story: The Television Academy wanted to get it right, rejecting 47 prototypes before Louis McManus, a television engineer, designed the Emmy we know today. The statuette symbolizes the Television Academy's goal of uplifting the art and science of television. The Emmy's wings represent the muse of art and the atom represents science. And McManus' muse? The woman we all recognize is none other than his wife, Dorothy.

Stage name: Emmy Awards are named after "Immy," an abbreviation for the early image orthicon camera. Because the icon is a woman, the Academy changed it to "Emmy," which seemed to suit her better.

Craft services: Each Emmy takes five-and-a-half hours to handcraft at R.S. Owens in Chicago.

Casting call: Using virgin metal heated to a whopping 700 degrees, operators ladle the ore into a cast mold. It only takes 20 to 30 seconds until it's solid enough to be removed. Once removed from the cast, excess "flash" is removed and the elaborate detailing begins.

Ensemble production: The neutron ball, hoisted high by the female figure, consists of six thin metal pieces that are fused together—by hand.

Hair and makeup: The award is finished in the electroplating department. Each statue is dunked in vats of zinc, copper, nickel, pure silver, and 24-karat gold before being polished to perfection.

Sticking to the script: R.S. Owens has used the same mold library—dating back to 1938—to create the Emmy Awards. Much of their equipment is as designed and utilized in the '30s and '40s.

A full season order: Roughly 400 statuettes are manufactured each year. The Academy orders extra in case there are multiple winners in a category. The ones that aren't used get stored for the following year.

Star treatment: The statuettes are literally handled with white gloves to prevent errant fingerprints.

And the nominees are: While R.S. Owens receives a list of nominees from the Television Academy, the company is not privy to who will win. As a result, these metal magicians hand engrave nameplates for every nominee. 

Whose nameplates will make it onto an Emmy Award this year? Stay tuned for more info when The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards nominations are announced on Thursday, July 13.

Watch The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards, which will broadcast live on Sunday, Sept. 17 at 8 PM ET / 5 PM PT from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, on CBS and CBS All Access