This will be a weekend for football trophies and awards, from the Vince Lombardi Trophy to the blingtastic Super Bowl rings and the MVP trophy.
Those get the spotlight, but another group of trophies going to a select group of team owners also will be awarded during Super Bowl festivities that span several days — and those bronze-and-walnut beauties were made by a small casting foundry in Hiram, Maine.
“Basically, these trophies are all going to the owners’ side of the collective bargaining agreement as a thank you for coming to the table, making it happen so we could have a season this year,” said Walter Butler, president of New England Castings.
One of those awards is going to Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
Butler has 17 employees engaged in loss-wax casting. It’s a fine casting process used by jewelers to make rings, bracelets and other detail-oriented pieces.
“It’s a fine-detail type of casting,” said Butler. “We’ve done work from trophies like this to gas turbine engine parts, medical surgical tools, hand tools, parts for bikes … We do quite a variety of work.
“We’re a little company in Maine with few employees doing quite remarkable things.”
The company works in cobalt, nickel, stainless steel, regular steel, bronze, aluminum, brass and other alloys.
The company began working on the project this summer; Mark White Inc. in Portland was the lead project manager and New England Castings was the manufacturing partner. The castings company submitted a prototype for NFL executives to examine and wound up winning the bid.
The trophies are bronze footballs inlaid with walnut. Each is individually marked with the name of the recipient which is cast into the material, not engraved.
New England Castings made 20 of them and the actual manufacturing part of the project took about six weeks, Butler said.
“Obviously, we take a lot of pride in what we do,” said Butler. “We feel we’re getting opportunities like this because of our reputation.”
Some of those other opportunities are impressive in different ways.
The company has a public art project in Kennebunkport paying tribute to former first lady Barbara Bush which includes bronze castings of some of her belongings — a copy of the book “Pride and Prejudice,” a pair of sneakers, a hat.
A New England Castings subsidiary, Bellingham Bell Co., has created two bells that are of note, too. The first is on the USS George H.W. Bush, an aircraft carrier.
The other is an 80-pound bronze bell made for the USS Constitution in Boston Harbor. The plan is to retire an antique bell on the ship in July 2012 to mark the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. The old bell will be placed in a museum and New England Castings’ new bell will replace it on the ship.
Butler said New England Castings acquired Washington state-based Bellingham Bell Co. in 2008. They took the business in-house, and hung onto the name Bellingham Bell, said Butler.
“It had a ring to it,” he said.