MGM Art director Cedric Gibbons designed the statue of a knight holding a sword and standing on a film reel, and Los Angeles-based sculptor George Stanley gave shape to the statue for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Formally the Academy Award of Merit, the statuette got its moniker when Margaret Herrick, the then Academy librarian, commented that it looked like her Uncle Oscar. The Academy officially adopted the name in 1939.
The Oscar statuette had varying dimensions until 1945 when the current standard came into acceptance; the reel on which the statuette stands always had five spokes, representing the five facets of filmmaking: directors, technicians, actors, producers and writers. Over the years, many metals like bronze, britannia metal, copper and nickel silver have found use in the making of the Oscar statue, with its gold-plating being the only constant.
During World War II, the Academy, for three years, awarded winners with statuettes made of plaster due to metal shortage but quickly replaced them with gold-plated ones once the war was over. In 1982, the Academy enlisted Chicago-based RS Owens and Company to produce the statuettes. The Academy does not know until Oscar night the number of statuettes to be given out, and this results in surplus awards being housed in the Academy's vault until the following year's Oscars.