10 Things You Didn’t Know About Fulper Pottery

Fulper Pottery is arguably one of the most varied lines of American art pottery. It’s also consistently increased in value over the years and because there are so many influences, it remains now and likely always be highly sought after. Here are ten things you might not have known about this exceptional line.

  • Fulper Pottery underwent several name changes during its existence and wasn’t always a true art pottery manufacturer. Samuel Hill was the first owner and in 1815, his Flemington New Jersey company sold drain tile. By the mid 1850s, one of his employees, Abraham Fulper, became a partner and after Hill’s death, Fulper bought the company.
  • Initially, the new company began as a stoneware producer and offered more functional pieces such as pitchers and bowls.
  • Fulper was produced for just twenty five years and in that time, there were more than 1,000 shapes and sizes.
  • The most recognized line is Vasekraft. It was introduced in late 1909 by the original founder’s grandson, William Hill Fulper II. He was also one of the earliest artists who took risks with different color variations.
  • Another reason it’s so varied is because of cultural influences. The earliest pieces had a German flair, most likely because of German potter John Martin Stagl. Oriental is considered the dominating influence in those middle years and eventually, there was a definitive art deco style that was more of an influence.
  • The glazing during those earliest years, again, influenced by Stangl, are often described as “curious” and present as a “vertical rectangle” stamp. This marking can be found on the pottery pieces up until around 1920.
  • If you come across a lighter clay body, odds are, it’s one of the later pieces.
  • Fulper Pottery is the first company to offer a single color glazed dinnerware in the United States. The year was 1920.
  • The Flemington plant was destroyed in 1929 by a fire. The company relocated to Trenton, New Jersey.
  • By 1955, the name had changed again to Stangl Pottery and once again began offering the more functional pieces.

 

A Look at Fulper Pottery

Fulper Pottery has been around since 1814 – and there are millions of fans and collectors around the world. A New Jersey potter, Samuel Hill, had been making pottery strictly for utilitarian purposes – such as storage crocks, drain pipes and other similar pieces.

Of course – and fortunately for those of us who appreciate Fulper Pottery – the decision was made to pursue a more artistic avenue – but that would come later.

It wasn’t until 1858 when Abram Fulper began the process, shortly after Sam Hill’s death, to buy the pottery company. Within a couple of years, he was the proud new owner of one pottery company that focused primarily on stoneware and to a lesser degree, tiles. The years rolled by and Fulper’s sons soon found themselves overseeing their father’s company. By the 1880s, the name changed to Fulper Brothers and, true to the initial functions of the company, the brothers continued with their father’s legacy of stoneware and tile.

Enter the third generation of Fulpers. In 1899, the company’s name was changed yet again to Fulper Pottery Co. The elder Fulper’s grandson, William Hill II, became both secretary and treasurer of the company. He was a recent graduate of Princeton University as well as a veteran of the Spanish-American War. Still, the company produced the same utilitarian household items such as storage jars and cookware.

It was William H. Fulper II who decided it was time to move away from those drain pipes and storage jars and focus more on an artistic approach. The first line was said to be more “casual” than elegant, but it was popular. By the turn of the century, the company’s main pottery, John Kunsman began throwing vases and jugs with a more simple and solid color glaze. They used the sidewalk to display these new offerings and before long, it was winning prizes for its design elements. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Of course, these are but a few of the highlights of this company with an incredibly rich history that’s both fascinating and revealing. For those interested in a deeper understanding of Fulper Pottery, there are several great books on the subject. Also, be sure to check out our Fulper Pottery collection on Just Art Pottery.

 

Fulper Pottery: Backstory

Even though Fulper Pottery was incorporated in 1899, it had roots that went as far back as 1814, albeit under a different name. The Flemington, New Jersey company was first the brainchild of Samuel Hill. He too called New Jersey home and was a well respected producer of crocks, jars and drain pipes. Hill passed away in 1858 and before long, Abram Fulper decided to begin purchasing as many of Hill Pottery pieces that he could get his hands on.

Fast forward to 1899 when the company was incorporated. William Hill Fulper II, Abram’s grandson, transitioned into the role of secretary and treasurer of the company. His Princeton University education served him well, especially as the company continued to grow. It wasn’t until 1909 that the now-Fulper Pottery Company released its first line, known as Vasecraft. It was more of a minimalist line; quite casual, yet lovely.

Within a year of Vasecraft’s release, another prominent employee, Martin Stangl, found himself in the role of ceramics engineer and soon was developing many of the glazes Fulper Pottery is so well known for. Another prominent name associated with this art pottery company is John Kunsman. He too preferred the simple glaze colors. His work found its way to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition where it earned an honorable mention. There were approximately 100 glazes used during the course of the company’s production. It wasn’t until 1929 that Stangl bought out the Fulper family, and unfortunately, he opted to compromise both quantity and quality. Within five years, the company was producing most dinnerware.

What we’re left with is some of the most striking art pottery to be found anywhere. If you’re already a collector, you know the glazes are often what sets this line apart from all others and if you’re new to the Fulper Pottery collections, you’re in for a treat as you explore those many glaze lines.

Be sure to explore the Just Art Pottery Fulper Pottery page. We have several pieces available, including the Fishing Man Statue, which is a favorite among collectors.

A Look at Fulper Pottery

Founded in 1805 by the Fulper brothers, this New Jersey pottery has remained synonymous with an evolving northeastern pottery company. What began as a drain tile manufacturing company quickly evolved into a pottery company known for its Fulper doll heads, beautiful book ends and multicolored and multi-shaped vases, statues and even kitchenware.

Unlike other pottery companies, Fulper Pottery consistently, from the beginning, marked its wares with back stamping of an oval trademark and pattern name. Contracts began rolling in once the company transitioned to an art pottery company and soon, thousands of Fulper Pottery pieces were being sold around the nation.

Fulper Pottery, though, didn’t have an easy road to its ultimate success. In September, 1929, the Flemington, New Jersey Plant burned in its entirety. It was a blow to the town; Fulper Pottery was one of the largest employers in the entire region. Many employees were able to transfer to the Trenton, New Jersey plant. It was then that Fulper Pottery became Stangl Pottery. Then, in 1940, Stangl released what is described as a “fine grade” of hand crafted and hand decorated dinnerware. Each collection incorporated lovely designs; though there was one more element that really set these designs apart. Stangl Pottery introduced for the first time a revolutionary carving process. Using special tools, the designers carefully carved those subtle those distinctive designs that culminated into beautifully decorated finished pieces.

By the time the 1950s rolled around, Stangl released its Antique Gold pottery line. These wares are easily identified via their 22 karat gold hand brushed embellishments. It’s absolutely stunning against the matte green glaze. So popular was the line, that soon Granada Gold, with 22 karat gold brushed over a striking turquoise finish and Black Gold, which is painted over a handsome and inky black finish were released. The final piece in this unique line was the Platina, which is hand brushed with platinum for a brushed silver finish.

See more of the Fulper/Stangl pottery on Just Art Pottery’s Fulper Pottery page.

The Top 10 Pottery Searches for August, 2009

Newcomb_College

Below are the top ten most searched pottery collections for August, 2009.  The searches reveal consistency with few changes.  Clearly, the trends for Roseville are still strong, as it dominates four of the ten spots.

Roseville Pottery- Patterns A-E – Some of the patterns in this group include the incredibly sought-after Roseville Apple Blossom, the delicate Roseville Azurean and the ambitious designs in Roseville Capri.

Roseville Pottery – Patterns F-L – This group includes the Roseville Juvenile and the Roseville Laurel.

Weller Pottery – Beautiful and deep coloring with lean lines define Weller Pottery.  A perfect example that defines the Weller Pottery themes is the Camelot Vase.

Roseville Pottery – Patterns S-Z – Look for the Roseville Savona with its rich gold coloring and the vivid reds that define the Roseville Silhouette.

Roseville Pottery – Patterns M-R – This group has the unique shaped Roseville Pottery Magnolia Brown Cider Pitcher.

Rookwood Pottery – If you've not seen the Rookwood Faience Pottery Pears on a Branch Tile, now's the time.  This exquisite tile measures 10" in height and is 6 ¾" wide. 

Van Briggle Pottery – Known for its many markings, this collection has something for everyone.

McCoy Pottery – Look for any of the McCoy Pottery Vases.  Each is beautiful in its own right.

Newcomb Pottery – The blues and greens set this collection apart.

Fulper Pottery – Elegant and refined are commonly used to describe Fulper Pottery.

Despite the foothold Roseville Pottery maintains, Grueby's arts and crafts style, and the contemporary styles of Ephraim and Door Pottery just missed the Top 10.

Donna McGill

Fulper Pottery Marks

Fulper produced art pottery from around 1900 to 1935.  A variety of marks were used by the company throughout its years of prodution.  The following provides examples of many of these marks as well as the approximate periods of use.Dsc9387

Large Fulper Rectangular Ink Mark

This mark was used from around 1909 until 1916. Two examples of this mark have been documented one with serif font the other without. 

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Fulper Vasecraft Paper Label

Some examples of Fulper Pottery produced between 1909 and 1916 were marked with this paper label.  As shown the label typically has the form name and glaze.

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Prang Rectangular Ink Mark

Between around 1913 and 1929 the Prang Art Supply Company sold Fulper Pottery.  Between 1913 and 1916 examples of Fulper Pottery sold by Prang were marked with the following mark.  After 1916, Fulper pottery sold by Prang was marked with the later Fulper stamp.

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Raised Oval Fulper Mark

From around 1916 to 1922, Fulper used the following raised vertical trademarks.

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Incised Fulper Mark

From around 1916 to approximately 1922, Fulper pottery used a incised stamp mark as noted below.  This mark is often found on some of Fulper’s better examples.

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Oval Fulper Ink-Stamp Vertical Mark

From approximately 1922 to 1928, Fulper used the following ink stamp mark.  This mark is sometimes referred to as the "oval racetrack" mark by some collectors.

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Later Fulper Stamp Mark

After 1928 until the end of art pottery production in 1935, Fulper pottery used a horizontal, impressed mark.  Typically the mark is accompanied with the shape number of the vase.

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Other Fulper Pottery Marks

Fulper used a few other marks during its middle period of production.  Examples include the Rafco mark and the Flemington stamp.

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Additional Fulper Pottery Resources:

Greg Myroth