A Brief History.......
Fulper Pottery Company's original factory in1903, Mine Street, Flemington, NJ
The company that became Fulper Pottery was
begun in 1814 in Flemington, New Jersey by a young Samuel Hill, a potter
originally from New Brunswick, New Jersey. Hill was a utilitarian
potter and Hill Pottery produced drain pipes and storage
crocks and jars from Flemington's red earthenware clay.
A section of Hill Pottery earthenware drainpipe.
Hill Pottery redware pot
with Albany Slip glaze.
Upon Samuel Hill's death in 1858, pottery
worker Abram Fulper began purchasing Hill Pottery from the Hill estate. By the 1860s, the
company now owned by Abram Fulper (also known as Abraham) was called Fulper
Pottery. By this time the company was producing an assortment of
earthenware, stoneware and tile products.
Fulper stoneware jug
with cobalt decoration.
Stoneware flowerpot with Albany Slip
glaze made for the florist industry.
Abram Fulper's sons continued the pottery after
his passing. The company became known as Fulper Bros. or Fulper Bros.
& Co. during the 1880s. Products continued to be utilitarian stoneware
and household crockery and tile.
Portion of an1880s map of Flemington showing
Fulper Pottery as it appeared at that time.
Fulper family homes, Mine Street, Flemington.
In 1899, the company was incorporated as Fulper
Pottery Co. Secretary and treasurer of the company was William Hill Fulper
II, grandson of Abram, graduate of Princeton University and veteran of the
Spanish-American War. The company at that time was producing more
household items such as storage jars and Fire-Proof Cookware.
William Hill Fulper II
Fulper Fire-Proof Cookware casserole.
Fulper Ice water crock.
Fulper's most notable product at the turn of
the century was the patented Germ-Proof Filter. Forerunner to today's
"water cooler" the filters were exceedingly popular at a time when
public water supplies, when they existed, were not necessarily the most
sanitary. Fulper's Germ Proof Filters were fixtures in railroad stations,
offices and schools throughout North America, South America and the West Indies.
Fulper Germ Proof Filter
William H. Fulper II was the moving force
behind Fulper Pottery's becoming a prominent manufacturer of art pottery.
Fulper's first artware line was rather casual. Beginning about 1900,
Fulper's master potter John Kunsman began throwing a variety of vases and jugs
with simple solid color glazes. These were displayed on the sidewalk in
front of the pottery building and sold to Flemington visitors and
passersby. Some of Kunsman's artware was exhibited at the Louisiana
Purchase Exposition with a display of Fulper Germ Proof Filters in 1904 and won
an honorable mention for design.
Fulper Pottery original factory, 1909, Mine Street, Flemington, NJ.
Later known as Factory No.1.
William Fulper, possessing an extraordinary
gift for marketing and always aware of current trends, saw great profit
potential for the Pottery in the field of artware. At the turn of the
century, pottery collecting was enjoying great popularity, especially fine
examples of antique classical and Chinese pottery. Both private collectors
and public museums were scrambling for pots.
William Fulper sought to capitalize on this collecting
trend by providing modern recreations of antique Chinese shapes and
glazes. For the glazes, he contracted with Dr. Cullen Parmelee, head of the ceramics
department at Rutgers University, to develop Chinese-inspired art glazes. Dr. Parmelee's glazes were authentic recreations of
ancient and rare Chinese glazes and included Famille Rose, Chinese Blue,
Seladon, Rouge Flambé and Claire de Lune. These glazes were the backbone
of Fulper Pottery Co.'s now renowned Vasekraft art pottery line, introduced in 1909.
1909 Fulper Vasekraft ad.
However, several of Dr. Parmelee's glazes were nearly
impossible to consistently mass-produce. the copper-based Seladon, Claire
de Lune and Rouge Flambé required a hard to control reducing kiln atmosphere to
fire correctly, but Fulper primarily fired in an oxidizing kiln. Even the
original Famille Rose glaze rarely fired to the pale, true rose-pink it was
intended to be.
Vasekraft #25 Lily vase, hand-thrown by John Kunsman
and glazed with Dr. Parmelee's Rouge Flambé. This
copper red reduction glaze was discontinued by 1911.
During 1910, many of Dr. Parmelee's difficult
and costly glazes were either reformulated or discontinued.
Also in 1910, William Fulper hired ceramic engineer Martin Stangl to develop new
Vasekraft glazes and shapes. While the
original Vasekraft line featured Oriental inspired shapes and glazes, Martin Stangl's shapes were Arts & Crafts styled and his
glazes earthy and organic.
Johann Martin Stangl at Fulper Pottery in1910.
Martin Stangl shape and flambé glaze.
One of the first design projects tackled by
Martin Stangl at Fulper pottery was the development of Fulper's now famous
Vasekraft lamps. This series of pottery lamps were very novel in that they
were topped by pottery shades inset with stained glass shapes and panels.
Stangl's Vasekraft lamps were expensive even then, but were highly popular and
were offered by the company from 1911 through 1918.
1911 Vasekraft lamp ad.
Martin Stangl's shapes and glazes coupled with
William Fulper's innovative and tireless advertising campaign propelled the
Vasekraft artware line to great recognition and popularity. Fulper
Vasekraft products were sold throughout the United States in the most prestigious
department stores, gift shops and jewelry stores.
Bamberger's Department Store in Newark, NJ, one of the
many, many locations that carried Fulper products.
Throughout the 1910s, Fulper's Vasekraft
was highly recognized as an important American art form. Fulper Pottery
frequently participated in prominent exhibits of contemporary art and won
several awards, including the Gold Medal of Honor at the Panama Pacific
International Exposition at San Francisco in 1915.
By Word War I, the popularity of the dark and
ponderous Vasekraft shapes was diminishing, so the line was renamed "Fulper
Pottery Artware" with newly designed shapes based on English and Spanish
Fulper Pottery English flower flagon in Rainbow Flambé glaze.
During World War I, Fulper Pottery produced a
line of highly successful porcelain dolls and doll heads for American toy
manufacturers to replace German porcelain doll heads no longer
available. At the end of the war, Germany was able to ship completed
doll heads to American manufacturers more cheaply than Fulper Pottery could
produce them here, so Fulper discontinued doll head production and introduced a
line of novelty porcelain lamps, dresser boxes, ashtrays and boudoir items,
marketed as "Fulper Porcelaines".
1920s Fulper Porcelaine novelty
powder jar, designed by Tony Sarg.
In 1924, William Fulper appointed Martin Stangl vice president of
the company. Also at that time the company expanded by constructing
"Plant No. 2" a few blocks from the original Fulper
Fulper Pottery Plant No.2, early 1930s.
At Plant No. 2 was produced Fulper Pottery's
newly developed Fulper Fayence art and dinnerware lines. The Fulper
Fayence dinnerware was America's first open
stock solid-color dinnerware. This line ultimately became Stangl Pottery,
and for many years was advertised as "Stangl Pottery, made by Fulper
Fulper Fayence #901 decorated after dinner coffee set.
America's first open-stock solid-color dinnerware.
Throughout the 1920s Fulper Pottery Artware
continued to be produced at the original factory. By 1926, demand for the
Stangl Pottery products had increased to the point that a third production
facility was acquired in Trenton, New Jersey.
Fulper Pottery Plant No.3, Trenton, NJ.
William Hill Fulper II died suddenly in
1928. The company continued to be run with Martin Stangl as President,
Judge George K. Large as Vice President and William Fulper's widow, Etta, taking
her husband's place as Secretary and Treasurer. In September, 1929, the original factory in Flemington burned,
production was absorbed by the other two facilities. Fulper Pottery
Artware continued to be manufactured at the Flemington Plant No. 2.
1928 photo of a Fulper Pottery table set.
During the 1920s and 1930s, Fulper Pottery
Artware was designed in Classical, Art Deco and Primitive styles.
1929 Fulper Pottery poster.
In 1935, Fulper
Pottery Artware production was ceased at the small remaining
Flemington location, and that building was utilized solely as a retail showroom
for the company's ceramic products. After 1935, the company continued to
be Fulper Pottery, but produced only Stangl Pottery brand dinnerware and