The Prang Contract
Beginning in 1913, Fulper Pottery Company began producing art pottery shapes for the Prang Company of New York. Louis Prang was originally known for the color litho prints he produced during the nineteenth century. He was a tireless leader in the advancement of art education, and the standards he set for art education tools during his lifetime were continued by the Prang Company after his death. Prang’s specialty was providing all materials and supplies necessary for art education and instruction for all school levels.
From 1913 through 1929, the Prang Company
sold Fulper artware shapes for use as still-life models for students to sketch
or draw. Prang’s 1924 catalog
blurb stated this of Fulper’s artware: “Most
teachers have difficulty in securing drawing models that are inexpensive, yet
beautiful in shape and attractive in color.
These Prang Pottery Models were especially designed to meet this need.
They offer variety and beauty in both shape and color and at the same
time are inexpensive. They have been widely used for many years and give universal
satisfaction. They are made
expressly for us by one of the oldest and most famous Potteries in the United
States. In addition to being used
as drawing models, their shape and color as well as their perfect glazing
enables them to be used as flower vases or for school room decoration.
We offer five sets of these Pottery Models…
The shape and general character of each of the pieces in each of the sets
is shown in the accompanying illustrations.
Each set is packed at the factory in a strong carton ready for shipment. We do not break sets.”
Prang 1924 catalog illustration showing Fulper Pottery artware.
A few examples of Fulper shapes produced for Prang during 1913-1916. Left is the #32 Old Dutch Beer Pitcher glazed in Mustard Matte, center is the #75 Narrow Pitcher in Leopard Skin glaze, on the right is a #40 Coffee Pot in Cat's Eye Flambé.
An example of the "PRANG" backstamp.
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Fulper Pottery "Student Pieces"
To meet the burgeoning demand for ceramics experts to lead America's growing ceramics industries during the latter decades of the 19th century, American universities began adding ceramics engineering departments and courses to their curriculum. The first was Ohio State University in 1894, chaired by the father of ceramic engineering, Edward Orton Jr. The second was in 1900 when Charles F. Binns became the first faculty member and director of the New York State School of Clay Working and Ceramics at Alfred University. In 1903, the third university ceramics engineering department in the United States was established at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ, and chaired by Dr. Cullen W. Parmelee. The Rutgers ceramics course served New Jersey's growing pottery, china, glass and terra cotta industries, and by the late 'teens has outgrown its original building, a former horse stable. Rutgers brand new 29 room ceramics laboratory was dedicated on June 13, 1922.
Because of Flemington’s relative close proximity to Rutgers University , the Fulper Pottery factory was often a field trip destination for students of Rutgers’ Clay Working and Ceramics department. With the advent of improved automobiles and roadways following World War I, these field trips became quite commonplace during the 1920s. While visiting at Fulper, students were guided through all aspects of production, and even offered the opportunity to create their own ceramic 'souvenir' of the trip. They were provided with clay and glazes of their choice, and would hand-build an object that would then be fired and shipped back to Rutgers several days later. These “student pieces”, as they have come to be called, are often crude and clunky, and usually inspired by Fulper artware shapes, which would have been on-hand at the pottery and used as models by the students. If the “student pieces” lack artistic merit, it is primarily because the students were not art majors, but were working toward ceramics engineering and technical degrees. Ceramic design and art were unfortunately considered to be of secondary importance to mechanization and industrial science. In most instances, the Fulper field trip was the students’ very first “hands-on” experience in clay working.
One of these field trips to Fulper Pottery was chronicled in a notice published in The Ceramic Age in May 1927.
“Students in the sophomore and junior classes at Rutgers University,
enrolled in the ceramics division, recently visited the Fulper Pottery at
Flemington, N.J. The trip was made
by automobile, under the direction of Messrs. Catlin and Henry, instructors in
Fulper Pottery, occupying a two-story frame building near the center of the
town, is devoted to three distinct lines of manufacture, china, stoneware, and a
low-fired ware called “Fayence.” The
plant uses New Jersey clays for the production of the two last noted, while
foreign clays are employed for the manufacture of china.
casting method is principally used at this plant, but some ware is jiggered.
The stoneware and china are both biscuited before the glaze is applied
and then are fired to a high temperature so the glaze and the ware mature at the
same temperature. This is claimed
to give a stronger product and lessen the chance of dunting.
The kilns are sealed as soon as the firing has been completed and are
allowed to cool very slowly.
The “Fayence” ware is a low-fired body with a very strong glaze, also low-fired. In this type of art pottery the colors are most perfectly developed because of the facility of control at the lower temperatures. Most of the novelty ware is made of this type”.
A group of “student pieces” produced by Rutgers University students while visiting Fulper Pottery during the 1920s.
The "PRANG CONTRACT" and "FULPER STUDENT PIECES" text are excerpted from the book The Collectors Encyclopedia of Stangl Artware, Lamps & Birds, copyright 2005 Collector Books and Robert C. Runge Jr. MAY NOT be copied without permission