Stangl Pottery

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2015-06-26 10:33:55

Stangl Pottery was one of the most popular American pottery manufacturers in the first part of the 20th century.

Background

Stangl Pottery was one of the most popular American pottery manufacturers in the first part of the 20th century. Its colourful, simple designs made its dinnerware lines a casual alternative to more formal styles, while its art pottery lines competed successfully with more expensive and sophisticated wares. Despite the evolution of Stangl Pottery from Fulper to Pfaltzgraf, its colourful dinnerware and bird figurines continue to be highly sought after by collectors.

Stangl Pottery's early history goes back to 1814 when it started as Hill Pottery in Flemington, New Jersey. Drain pipes, storage crocks and jars were made from the red earth clay in the area. Abram Fulper purchased the company in the 1860s, focusing on stoneware rather than earthenware. By 1909, Fulper Pottery had moved into art pottery production with its well-known Vasekraft line.

In 1910, ceramic engineer Martin Stangl went to work for Fulper to develop new shapes and glazes. Stangl left Fulper's employ in 1914 to go to Haeger where he created its new art pottery line, borrowing many of Fulper's styles and glazes. The mottled green glaze which he used at Haeger was borrowed from Fulper, and later imitated by other potteries. Much unmarked art pottery from the period imitates this glaze and can be variously confused as Haeger, Fulper or even Grueby or Rookwood.

Stangl rejoined Fulper in 1919, where his continued success led to his becoming vice-president in 1924, when he introduced the first open stock solid-color dinnerware. The company's facilities had expanded to three production factories, though when the original factory in Flemington burned in 1929, production was transferred into the two remaining ones. Stangl purchased Fulper in 1929 and changed the company's name to Stangl Pottery. In 1935, the smaller facility was turned into a retail showroom, in effect becoming the first "factory outlet".

In the earlier years, the Fulper art pottery lines were widely admired because of their Arts and Crafts designs. However, as interest in the style declined, the company directed its designs toward simpler forms and more muted glazes, with oriental motifs. In the 1930s and 1940s, Stangl Pottery introduced a line of bird figurines which were enormously popular and are still very much coveted by collectors. These bird designs were very accurately presented, and were hand-painted and signed by their artists. A porcelain line based on Audubon studies was briefly produced during World War II, but was discontinued after a few years.

Stangl took care to mark all of its pieces and proudly boasted of this in its advertising. A number of marks were used over the years. As many as three identifying marks might appear on a bird figurine, for example: the company's mark, the carver's initials, and the painter's.

Stangl's pottery, dinnerware and figurines were sold in department stores, gift shops and jewelry stores all over the United States. The outlet store in Flemington, New Jersey continued to be a popular tourist attraction for nearly 50 years, with visitors coming by bus tour or in auto club groups until as many as 1000 filled the showroom on a weekend day.

Pfaltzgraf purchased the Stangl Pottery facilities in 1978, and closed down production. Nonetheless, collectors continue to seek out the fruit and floral patterned dinnerware in its uniquely American patterns, as well as the well-loved bird figurines which graced many an American household's mantel for much of the twentieth century.

Collecting information

Stangl took care to mark all of its pieces and proudly boasted of this in its advertising. A number of marks were used over the years. As many as three identifying marks might appear on a bird figurine, for example: the company's mark, the carver's initials, and the painter's.

Collectors are advised to be vigilant when inspecting items as there are a great many fakes on the market.

Join a collectors club or association. A membership can add to your knowledge and your collection. Many offer a way to locate that special item you have been searching for through the use of member forums and classified postings. Locate the most appropriate club by doing some research on the purposes and membership requirements. The American Art Pottery Association is a great general purpose organization to consider. Each type of pottery or artisan may have his or her own club in existence or creating a club of your own and searching out fellow enthusiasts can work as well. Searching out others can broaden your collecting horizons.

Educate yourself. Read and study all you can about your chosen subject be it an era, an artisan, or a technique. Know all you can about it as a lay person. Bring your knowledge right up to the level of professional. You must understand your subject in order to properly choose your pieces to collect and not to be deceived as you are searching. Most collectors and resellers of antiques are honest and forthright in their pricing and assurances but some are not, some intentionally and others out of ignorance. Still others are not aware of what they have and may under price the item. This situation you will usually find at the flea market or yard sale level and can bring you the best bargains of your collecting life.

Price guide

A Stangl cockatoo sold for $10 in November 2011 at Stuart Kingston.

A Stangl pottery wig stand sold for $225 in June 2008 at Pook & Pook, Inc.

Stangl's "Double Parakeets" sold for $150 in January 2006 at Burchard Galleries Inc.

A Stangl pottery gravy boat and underplate sold for $20 in March 2005 at Livingston's Auction.

A Stangl pottery parrot sold for $55 in September 2010 at Strawser Auction Group.

A Stangl pottery elephant sold for $50 in October 2008 at Strawser Auction Group.

A Stangl flying duck figurine sold for $200 in February 2007 at B.S. Slosberg, Inc. Auctioneers.

A pair of Stangl pottery ashtrays sold for $25 in June 2003 at William J. Jenack Auctioneers.

A Stangl art deco vase sold for $100 in November 2003 at Freeman's.

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