years, we collectors have believed that there was a gradual change in Fulper
Pottery Company's production from the Vasekraft type of glazed stoneware
artware to solid-color glazed Stangl wares after William Fulper's death
in 1928, incorrectly termed the "Transition Period".
This is a nice, simple story, but is very far from the truth.
Fulper actually DID have a transitional period from true artware
production to a more commercial line of artware type products, but this took
place during and immediately following World War One. Several circumstances were involved in expediting this
change. Martin Stangl's direct
influence as Vice President of the Fulper Pottery Company did not take place
until 1924 ~ several years AFTER Fulper's actual "transition" took
are usually two primary factors that will have an overall effect on the type of
merchandise a company will produce. These
are economics and popular taste. Both
of these played a role in Fulper's production during the late 1910s.
Fulper’s Vasekraft line of artware was not their primary product or
source of revenue during the first two decades of the twentieth century.
Only one-quarter of Fulper’s production during this time can be
attributed to artware; the primary income was from the highly successful
Germ-Proof water filters, water coolers and cooking ware.
These items were in great demand and shipped worldwide.
development of inexpensive electric refrigeration and potable public
water systems also cut greatly into Fulper’s product lines.
The demand for Fulper’s Germ-Proof stoneware water filters and coolers
diminished greatly because of these modernizations.
The water filers and water coolers had been Fulper Pottery Company’s
most profitable product line from the 1890s through World War One. The aluminum
cookware craze during the1910s left a reduced market for Fulper’s stoneware
cooking ware, causing that line to be discontinued by 1920.
The diminishing sales of the filters, coolers cooking ware AND artware
threatened the very existence of Fulper Pottery Company during World War One.
Fulper Pottery’s Vasekraft artware had been grounded in the Arts and
Crafts movement, demand for this type of artware was declining toward the late
1910s for the following reasons: From
1915 through 1920, American popular taste was drastically changing.
There was a major war occurring in Europe – President Wilson declared
we would not be involved, but there was a general air of nervousness across the
land. One way this nervousness
manifested itself was in the type of home furnishings with which Americans were
suddenly surrounding themselves. No
longer were they enamored with the “modern” Arts and Crafts style of
decoration (many collectors consider the end of the Arts and Crafts movement to
have roughly coincided with Gustav Stickley’s bankruptcy in 1915 and Elbert
Hubbard’s death with the sinking of the Lusitania in 1916).
Americans were seeking familiar, comfortable, historic styles; things
easily related to America’s past. Consequently,
Colonial Revival and Classical Revival furnishings became immediately popular
(this same phenomenon occurred directly prior to the United States’
involvement in World War Two, and had a profound effect on Stangl production at
that time also). By 1918, Fulper
dropped the Arts and Crafts inspired brand name Vasekraft, and thereafter
called their stoneware artware line simply Fulper Pottery Artware.
of these varied circumstances left Fulper with a need to develop new product
lines to replace the ones no longer commercially viable.
Fulper found a temporary solution in the manufacturing of porcelain doll
heads during the latter part of World War One.
Doll production kept things going until 1921, when less expensive dolls
were again available from overseas. During
the 1920s, Fulper continued porcelain production in the form of Fulper
Porcelaine brand lamps and novelties. The
Fulper Porcelaines and a lesser grade of Fulper Pottery brand
stoneware artware were manufactured throughout the 1920s, but did not take up
the slack left by the decreased production of utilitarian stoneware.
economic depression of 1922-1923 made it obvious to William Fulper that if
Fulper Pottery Company were to stay in business; less costly, desirable products
would have to be manufactured. In
1924, Martin Stangl (newly appointed vice-president of Fulper Pottery Co.)
introduced the Fulper Fayence product line.
The Fulper Fayence brand name was designed to connect this new
series of products with Fulper’s reputation of outstanding high quality.
The Fulper Fayence line consisted of nearly one hundred shapes,
including vases, lamps, tea sets, dinnerware, smokers’ items, console sets and
novelties. All of these pieces were
made of a white earthenware body and glazed in bright, solid-color glazes.
The principal glazes used on this line were Colonial Blue, Persian
Yellow, Chinese Ivory, and Silver Green.
The Fulper Fayence line was available from 1924 through 1930, and
was labeled with the Fulper Fayence brand name during that time.
After 1930, certain Fulper Fayence shapes continued to be
produced, but were marked with the Stangl brand name instead.
1926, the Fulper-Stangl line of products was introduced. This line
utilized the same body and glazes as Fulper Fayence, and consisted of
various artware and dinnerware shapes as well.
The Fulper-Stangl shapes were distinctively fashioned in Modern,
Art Deco and Primitive styles, while the Fulper Fayence
shapes remained classically inspired. Like
the Fulper Fayence brand, Fulper-Stangl products were marketed under the Fulper-Stangl
brand name through 1930.
the 1920s, Fulper Pottery Company was concurrently producing Fulper Pottery,
Fulper Porcelaine, Fulper Fayence, and Fulper-Stangl lines,
as well as a great assortment of special-order and private label products that
did not conform to Fulper’s four primary brand name lines mentioned above.
In 1930, the Fulper Fayence and Fulper-Stangl lines were
converged and became simply Stangl.
The Fulper Porcelaines had been dropped in 1929, but the Fulper
Pottery brand artware line continued until 1935.
Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Fulper’s artware lines would often
share shapes. The Fulper
Porcelaine and Fulper Fayence lines have several common shapes, as do
the Fulper Fayence and Fulper Pottery lines.
Whenever a different type of finish or body was chosen for an existing
shape, the customary practice was to change that shape number as well.
Several examples are the Fulper Pottery #850 round flower frog
(introduced in 1923) and Fulper Fayence #909 round flower frog
(introduced in 1924); the Fulper Fayence #962 and Fulper Porcelaine
#369 bird wall pockets (both introduced simultaneously in 1925; and the Fulper
Fayence #934 miniature vase (produced 1924-25 only), the Fulper Pottery
#825 miniature vase (introduced 1927) and the Stangl Pottery #2016
miniature vase (introduced 1935).
and similar items sharing a same shape but having different bodies and glazes,
have often been mistakenly identified as “transitional pieces”, but are all
separate, distinct pieces belonging to particular product lines.
Fulper’s actual “transitional period” occurred during the late
1910s. It was not a transition from
Fulper to Stangl as is commonly supposed, as both
the Fulper and Stangl brands of products were produced
simultaneously throughout the 1920s. The
real “transition” was simply a shift from utilitarian stoneware and high-end
artware production to the the manufacture of brightly-glazed decorative artware
and dinnerware products as dictated by a changing market…
an aside, Martin Stangl did not purchase Fulper Pottery Company in 1930, nor was
the company name changed to Stangl Pottery in 1930, as is so often surmised.
During the 1920s, Fulper Pottery Company was owned and controlled by
three primaries, William Fulper II, Judge George K. Large, and Martin Stangl.
These three men agreed upon all business decisions before any changes
were made or new lines introduced.
Following William Fulper’s untimely death in 1928, his widow Etta
continued in his stead, and remained a controlling interest in the company until
the mid 1940s. The
company continued as Fulper Pottery Company until it was finally incorporated as
Stangl Pottery Company on December 18, 1955, twenty-seven years after William